Sunday, December 4, 2011

During my teenage years my family lived in a rented home in Castleton, VT. It was an amazing place to spend those years. The house was surrounded by miles of fields, woods, and streams. I loved it.

The winters were long though, and when the snow would fall deep and the cold wind would whistle through the naked trees, I would sit at home wishing for a change in the weather so I could walk in the woods again.

Every year, usually in mid-January or early February, a brief sunny thaw would break the monotony of winter's tyranny. I always enjoyed the thaw, but not half as much as what followed. When the mercury dropped again, as it inevitably did, all that snow that had begun to melt would freeze hard as concrete. It magically transformed fields, which had previously been an unpassable expanse of drifts and knee-deep snow, into a smooth level parking lot. I could walk the fields, and sometimes the woods too, in my tennis shoes, and never once break through the crust.

On one such day, as I was walking on top of the frozen snow in the fields behind the house, I wondered what it would be like to ride a runner sled across the surface of the frozen snow. Good idea, right? I quickly ran to the garage and fished out one of our runner sleds. Then I dragged it up into the farthest corner of the field. The field itself was a long gentle rise, which began down near East Hubbardton Road and rose up to the tree line at the base of Blueberry Hill. From the farthest corner I would have to steer the sled to the right of a long row of trees before cutting to the left and traversing the broadest part of the field in a long diagonal before turning a hard right and zipping down the last stretch toward East Hubbardton Road. In all I guess the route would cover the length of several football fields.

As soon as I laid down on the sled and pushed off I knew I was in for the ride of my life. The runner sled shot away across the frozen snow much more quickly than I had anticipated. I was going so fast that tears welled up in my eyes and ran back toward my ears. Trees and snow whirred past in a  blur as I picked up speed, but the sled handled beautifully. I made all my turns just fine, but as I made the last turn and shot down towards the road the sled picked up even more speed, (it was kinda scary) and for the first time I wondered how I was going to stop. I put my boot down to test if that would work as a brake, but it just skipped off the surface of the hard-packed, frozen snow. I was careening toward the end of my ride (and possibly the end of my life) so I jammed my boot down into the snow with all my strength. I don't know for sure how fast I was going, but at that moment, when I jammed my boots down into the snow, I intsantly separated from the sled and went tumble-bumble across the snow. It was the sort of crash that could have easily resulted in broken bones. Without its captain at the helm the sled shot away before dropping off into a ditch. The frozen crust was sandpaper rough and strong enough to hold me as a I went crashing and skidding along. It was like bailing out on asphalt.

I remember laying there for a moment atop the snow, my heart racing, mentally checking off my extremities to make sure I was okay. Nothing hurt. A visual inspection revealed that the only casualty was the left elbow of my good winter jacket. It was torn wide open and some white fluff was poking out.

"Awesome!" I whispered. Then I went again.

1 comment:

The Fredricksons: Brian, Britney, Salty, and Benji said...

The end of this story, which I thought for sure was ending in a badly torn up tummy, is level with your video bar. I love it :)