Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sleddin' Snow

We've started out the winter season a little slack on the snowfall in our area. Predictions have ran high for the past two weekends, but alas, it always seems to go around us. We've really had nothing so far but some icing, which is never good to have or fun to get around in. I always dread the forecasts of ice, but snow? Oh yeah, I'm as bad as my grandchildren waiting with anticipation for a "good one"!!

As a kid growing up here on the 40, ice skating on the pond and sled riding on the hill was just a no brainer for entertainment. You didn't set inside in front of a tv or computer whiling away the hours being bored...ohhhhh no!!! You strapped on every article of warm clothing you owned and headed outside...and depending on the temperatures, sometimes for hours at a time (or at least until your gloves were frozen solid!!).

"The Hill" was the place to go for sledding! Back in my day we were the only ones who lived here at the end of the road so there was no need to worry about cars running in and just got on the sled and took off! Also back in the day the Hill was not quite as "gentle" as it is now either...this was before the county decided that curve at the bottom was dangerous and needed to be smoothed out! The Hill used to be one looong straight stretch with a "dead man" curve at the bottom which shot you across the creek if you were lucky enough to make the curve! The creek also had no fancy concrete slab to cross...strictly gravel and water, so you always hoped (if the temps were up!) you could stop before hitting the creek and that ice cold water! Of course, if it was frozen, the goal was to make the curve AND see how far across the creek you could get!

We didn't own those plastic saucer things, or those bright yellow toboggans they now try to pass off for was Radio Flyers all the way! With a hill like ours you had to be able to steer, whether by feet or by hands, steering was an option you didn't want to be without! You also didn't want to be without lard...yes, I said LARD!! A good slathering on the bottoms of your sled rungs made those things just fly down the hill, plus it also kept the steering mechanism in good working condition. Since early winter was butchering season, you always had a good supply of lard (at winters end they received another good greasing of lard to keep the rust off!).

After the niece and nephew moved down here from the city sledding became even more fun. They'd tromp the half mile down the road to my house with their sleds in tow and back to the hill we'd go. Sometimes we'd double up on the sleds...the more weight, the faster you went! That was usually me and Bub, we were always trying to come up with some great feat of dare devil-ness to beat the Hill! Sissy would ride double, but only if we sat upright and she rode behind. After losing her once at the curve, that pretty much decided her on riding single from then on and she normally didn't start until halfway down! Bub and I always started at the top and sometimes with a running jump as well!

Not much sledding gets done on the Hill nowadays...not for lack of wanting to, but because of the almost instant removal of any and all snow by the county road graders! My grandchildren know if they have any hopes of sledding they have to get out early for a couple of runs, otherwise by day's end it will be gone. They always hope if it snows it will happen on a Friday night, because then they have the chance of an entire day without fear of the grader taking it off before late afternoon! As a kid, I never had to worry about the road grader, they rarely made it down our portion of the road...sometimes I think they forgot we even lived down in here! I don't recall many snow days from school either...buses drove the roads no matter what, so I was always assured of many days of sledding. Of course, I was also assured of many days of complaining since sledding made the Hill even slicker!!

I also don't do any sledding myself these days, I leave that up to the younger generation, mainly because of a not so pleasant sledding accident several years ago that left me slightly banged up for a few days (but that's another story!!). But that doesn't keep me from looking forward to a good "sledding snow"...the kind that falls softly, with huge flakes...the kind that piles up quickly and is perfect for building snowmen as well. The kind that blankets everything in pure, clean white...mounding around and over any obstacles that gets in it's way and adding such an abundance of sparkle that you could believe you are walking on diamonds with every step you take! It's that kind of snow that seems to soften the world and covers the harshness that surrounds us...for me, it's calming and peaceful...and beautiful!

We're still early yet into our winter season, so I still have hopes of a "sledding snow" and I for one, along with my grandchildren, will continue to wait in anticipation through every forecast we hear. I'll turn on the porch light in the early hours of the morning in hopes of it's arrival and if it comes? I'll pull back the curtains, pour me some coffee and set back and smile!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas memories...

The hubs and I have been up in the "maker" room the last few days...I'm working on gifts, he's working on all our old photos. He came across some old cassette tapes and decided to plug them in to see what was on there. One of the tapes contains all my kid's at a much earlier age singing Christmas was something we always did this time of year, they'd gather around the piano while I played and they'd sing their hearts out.

This particular recording was without the piano however, and I think they were "practicing" before walking over to Grandma's to sing for her out in the yard! It brought to mind the last year we did this, it was the first Christmas after my brother Steve had passed away from a motorcycle accident...Mom was standing at her back door listening when we decided to sing "I'll be Home for Christmas"...tears began to form in her eyes as she recalled to us a phone call from Steve years ago when he was stationed in Greece. He'd called to tell her he'd been listening to the song and wishing he was "home". I think Mom had already been revisiting her memories, both happy and sad, before we had arrived, because she also said Steve had been on her mind for some reason that evening.

My kids were concerned they'd upset their Grandma and commented on the walk home "we'd better leave that one out next year"! I recall telling them no...that such is the way of grow up (as they had done), move on and life changes. I was already feeling the changes within our own family and knew there would come a time when all those things we had once done would be no more. My children now all have children of their own and they're making their own memories....some are reminiscent of their Christmas's past and some of them are new ones they are now adding.

Does it make me sad? In some ways it does...I couldn't help but tear up myself listening to their voices on that tape and the memories that came flooding back of the many past Christmas's. I could see my youngest daughter breaking into a jig dance in the middle of the living room to a bluegrass style Christmas tune...once again I see the oldest daughter in her bathrobe and "high kicking" across the kitchen to the tune of "Mandy" from White Christmas, and there was our son, with a rubber band around his forehead attempting to do some kind of Chinese kung fu face and hollering because the rubber band got caught in his hair!!

Perhaps it makes me sentimental and sappy, but I love Christmas! It's always been my favorite time of year because it seems to always be a time of "revisiting" memories, but that is the part I love the most, even with the sadness thrown in. I decorate my tree to the sound of old CD's where a particular song brings to mind my dad and those things that might have been or even could have been, the year I was ice skating on the pond and just "knew" my grandmother had passed away, or one that reminds me of the year we lost my nephew Bub at such a young age. I see my mother decorating our Christmas tree, and  I can hear another brother pointing out to me a red light making it's way across the sky one Christmas Eve was in fact Rudolph pulling Santa's sleigh! Some are sad, some are happy, but they are all a part of me and I love to bring them out this time of year, dust them off and recall them all.

We'll never tromp up the driveway to sing Christmas songs again, but who day it may be me standing at the back door listening to my grandchildren as they sing Christmas carols and more than likely, I will still be recalling our Christmas's past...both happy and sad. What would sadden me more would be if we cease to make memories at all.