We finally got some real snow for the first time in two months. Somehow, the snowbelt that is Phoenix, Maryland, got less than Columbia and New York City , but don't worry everyone, I am sure they'll have the schools open in a week or two. Until they do, however, this blog is going to suffer in quality and quantity.
This was the kind of storm you prayed for as a kid. No matter how much weather forecasting has improved, and some might say it hasn't, there is still nothing more exciting for an eight-year old than going to sleep as snow is falling and waking up to a blanket of white covering everything you can see.
Sledding sure has changed though. We used to head out to the steep hill on the street around the corner from our house and ride until our hands were chapped raw or until somebody needed stitches after a nasty pileup in downhill sled demolition derby. Our sleds were heavy Flexible Flyers with metal runners that we waxed with the stubs of candles left over from Advent wreaths. (And yes, I walked to school every day for eight years) You had to watch out for cars, except for that time we went to a construction site and stole the sawhorses with the flashers to block off the street. When a car came we would laugh and holler as the driver fishtailed up or down the hill. This was before everybody had four-wheel or even frontwheel drive, so there were some real struggles.
Yesterday, I piled my two kids and their friend into the SUV, and we drove to their elementary school to hit the big hill. When I say big, I mean big enough that one of their buddies fractured his elbow there last year. And despite the fact that my boys arent allowed on a bike, scooter or rollerblades without a helmet, we let them zip helmetless down a hill of hard packed snow because we're pretty sure they won't go into the ditch or the few trees at the bottom. Pretty sure.
When I got out of the car, I took out one foam rubber and two plastic sleds , and off they went. As I turned the corner around the school to catch up with them, I caught a whiff of the unmistakable odor of charred meat. That's right, someone had set up a charcoal grill at the top of the hill. Sledding and tailgating - pure genius. The grillmeister was a hunter, and I heard later that he was offering freshly killed and cooked pheasant. Like I said, sledding has changed. The other award for ingenuity goes to the kids who brought the king-size inflatable mattress. They could lie five across and have plenty of shock absorption with minimal risk of flipping over. Look for this event in the 2018 Winter Olympics; I think it's safe to predict that the U.S. will dominate the five-man king-size mattress downhill.
The only tense moment of the day came when a group of teenagers got tangled up on a run and tumbled in a heap at the bottom of the hill. They got up slowly and huddled around one boy who sat motionless. Several adults exchanged concerned glances, but it turns out that they were just looking at his phone to see how the picture he had snapped on the way down the hill had turned out.