Is there any better Midwestern childhood staple of winter than sledding?
The kids from my neighborhood had a great option with the hill next to my grandparents house just up the street from me. It was also the first meeting place destination for all of us on “snow days” from school.
We would trudge our various sleds-from saucers to rail sleds to toboggans to the cheap, hard plastic body length ones-up the hill.
Each sled offered a different ride. The toboggans were for a handful of friends to experience together–our snow-covered boots criss-crossed over each other’s laps, we formed a sitting centipede speeding through the snow.
The one man saucers always gave you the extra spins and speed you wanted while the body length sleds gave you more steering control.
The old fashioned, wooden rail sleds gave you speed but also a loss of control. Sledders ascending the hill had to keep an extra eye out for those traversing on the rail sleds…lest they get struck by an errant traveler and end up flipped flat on their faces.
The inner tube sleds came into play just as I was getting into my teen years and out of sledding but later in life, I got to try these tubes down the hill. The tubes sure make the ride smoother, no more feeling every bump on your stomach under the 1/4 inch plastic sleds, and went at a decent speed too. They also are easy to connect an arm onto and co-sled with others.
Hour after hour, we’d get our little endorphin rushes, even building up snow piles to act as ramps to shoot off for more speed and height and danger. It was always a snow badge of courage to make it into the lawn of the house across the street from the hill.
My friends and I would take breaks by heading over to my grandma’s house. We’d leave our boots at the door and swap war stories in our socks over the hot chocolate drinks she’d prepared for us.
Later in life, I’ve had some of my buddies share that my grandma will always live on in the warmth of their memories because of these little snow break sessions around her kitchen table. Me too.
Honestly, sledding was one of the first activities I was excited for Cash to experience. I’m happy to report, last week, Meghan and I walked up the block to our local snow hill, Garner Park to give Cash his first sled run!
As the veteran sledder in the family–Meg grew up in California and had her first sledding experience only a couple years ago when I brought to Madison on a visit–I put Cash on my lap for his first run.
I conceded to Meghan to start halfway down the hill and we “sped” down. It was too slow for Cash’s liking according to his bored face.
This made me happy because I knew we could up the ante…and by “up” I mean start further up the hill the next run.
Cash and I made a few more runs and Meghan even got a few in and a couple more with all of us.
It was one of the more fun days this we’ve had this winter as a family. Plus, Cash can now say he’s a sledder.
Actually, his first words about sledding will likely be “faster, faster…”