FROM THE Sledding misadventures As the snowflakes drift lazily downward on a fine Sunday afternoon, my husband has a bonfire blazing out in the field, hot chocolate is heating in the coals and the …
As the snowflakes drift lazily downward on a fine Sunday afternoon, my husband has a bonfire blazing out in the field, hot chocolate is heating in the coals and the kids are screaming with delight as they sled down our steep hills. I’m getting over a long illness, so I’m tucked inside writing today, but usually I’d be in the thick of things.
I’ve always loved sledding and still do to this day. My 41-year-old body might disagree, but I still go. I spent many hours as a child careening down the hill at Hoffman Park in River Falls, or dodging trees on the various slopes around my house. If there was a hill nearby, I was analyzing its “sledability.” It was always a disappointment when I found barbed wire fencing at the bottom of a hill, but that didn’t always stop me. I’d just roll off before I got that far. Most times I was successful.
A few years ago, we took the kids sledding at Nugget Lake County Park. That day we had the big hill to ourselves. The kids were delighted that someone had built a jump in the middle of the hill. It was nothing huge, but it provided some entertainment as we sailed over it on our inflated tubes. It’s good exercise trudging up a slippery, snowy hill time and again and soon our lungs were burning with cold, fresh air.
The kids dared Shane to take a tube down the hill. Up until that point, I had been sledding with the kids while Shane helped them get positioned in tubes at the top of the hill before sending them down. Never one to resist a dare, Shane maneuvered his tube to the steepest part of the slope. He was going to show them all how far he would go. We all lined up and cheered as his tube gained momentum. He was flying, but his tube wasn’t heading the direction he wanted. Instead, it was taking aim at the jump.
We all watched with mouths agape as he sailed over the jump, flipped a somersault (no joke), landed on his head and ate snow the rest of the way down. I scrambled down the hill, praying he wasn’t hurt. He slowly sat up, shook the snow off and raised his arms in the air in a Victory V. How he didn’t break his neck is beyond me. Sledding mishap #1.
Last year, the boys were gone for the day, and Carolina begged me to take her sledding in our yard. We have very steep hills here, so there’s no shortage of opportunities. It’s just a matter of where you’ll end up.
Shane had piled a huge snowbank toward the bottom of our yard, in front of the road, so no one would sail out into the road. It worked well … as long as you could steer. Carolina sailed down the steep hill by our shop just fine, coming to rest neatly in the snowbank haven.
I’ve always had a bit of daredevil in me, and sometimes it still overtakes my good sense. I positioned my sled at the steepest slope, next to the birch trees. I wanted to make a good track, because this part of the hill had not been used yet, and what a shame to waste such pristine, sparkling, fast snow. I started off a bit slow, but when I hit the drop-off, I took off. Snow sprayed into my eyes, the wind blasted my face and I was sailing at lightning speed. I hit the driveway and instead of gracefully gliding into the cushioned snowbank, I shot like a cannon down the icy asphalt. Instead of my life flashing before my eyes, visions of casts and crutches danced in my head. Would you believe I’ve never broken a bone? I was pretty sure that was about to change.
Thank the Good Lord no cars were coming, because I shot across the road, over a steep bank and flew a good 20 feet through the air. The sled went one way and I went another. I landed on my tailbone on a nice, pointy corn stalk, my head slammed the frozen ground and my glasses flew into the snow somewhere. I laid there and wondered if the white I saw above was the clouds of Heaven. I was brought back to earth by Carolina’s shrieks of “Mommy? Mommy? Are you dead? MOMMY!”
I couldn’t speak, because the wind had been knocked out of me. I gave her a thumbs up as she plucked my glasses from the snow. My tailbone felt like it was shoved into my throat, but all my limbs seemed to be in working order. I had a goose egg on the back of my head, but no cracks could be found. My hard head was intact. I slowly stood, gathered my shredded pride about me like a cloak, and limped up the road bank as my husband stood with hands on his hips shaking his head in the door of his shop.
It might be best that I’m tucked inside the house today. I might get another daredevil idea and I’m still recovering from my Halloween faceplant.
BY SARAH NIGBOR