The snow had been postponed. On Tuesday, it was scheduled to arrive Wednesday at 1 p.m. I planned my day around it. By 1:12, I understood the snow was a bit behind schedule. I was not looking forward to it; I was dreading it. That’s sad.
Snow was one of the great joys of my childhood. No school, sledding, snowmen, fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate with marshmallows, my Mom drying load after load of socks and pants, making sure I was ready to go outside again.
In the days before every house had a closet full of Nordic wear, we made do with cotton socks and rubber boots. Toes got cold, then painful, then numb. That was the signal to go indoors for awhile. I envied my collie, Prince, who could brave the cold all day even though his coat formed snowballs. He and Soda, the golden retriever across the street, would run wild while we warmed up then join us when we took off down the hills again.
In West Hills we had a great sledding run from the top of Corteland Drive then left onto Marlboro. By the time you reached the turn, you’d picked up a lot of speed, adding an element of risk and the possibility of spills. Once after I turned over, I sat in the road catching my breath. One of my friends slammed into my back. Though I wasn’t hurt, I sometimes wonder if a lifetime of back pain could be traced back to that moment. Then, I was just angry, and tried out a few new curse words. Then we were back at it again. Trudge up the hill, fly down, repeat.
One snowy night a couple of weeks ago, I looked out the window at the snow and ice-covered road. I live on a fine hill for sledding, and I wished I were young enough and strong enough to try it out. It’s been a long, long time.
The last time I remember sledding was 1979. My friends were living in a farmhouse in Blount County. We called it The Ponderosa. One February night we took off across the fields to a hill and played like kids. Well, almost. I remember huffing and puffing back up the hill. It was almost painful, and the magic just wasn’t there. It was too cold, too wet, too steep, and I was feeling every iota of discomfort. So sad.
There have been nice walks in the snow, snowmen and fireplace fires since then but the keen sense of anticipation disappeared with the blizzard of 1993. Recently divorced, I was snowed in alone with my dog, Holling. My friend, Sammy, and I talked until the telephone lines went down and the power went out. I was one of the lucky ones. The power came back on in a few hours; others went without power for a week or more.
Still, it was boring and bitterly cold. Holling took off in the snow and I had to chase him down. At one point I thought they might find me with the spring thaw, but Holling gave up just as I was ready to give out.
I shouldn’t be griping. We’ve had a multi-year reprieve. This is the first winter that has acted like winter in a long time. By the time you read this, we will know if the great storm of 2014 materialized. If it did, I hope the snow will be melting or gone. Somewhere in the interval, I hope I stopped to appreciate the stillness and beauty and to remember the speed of a sled on a snow-packed hill.
Jan Hearne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.