Long hair in a half up pony. 17º chill in the air. A turn of the key locks the black ’96 Land Cruiser, a trusted companion. Boots crunching in the snow I walk my Flexible Flyer runner sled, a gift on my 5th birthday, maybe the greatest I’ve ever received across the park. It’s been dark for over an hour and the crowd that played on the hill while I worked through the day is thinning. They’ve done the good deed of packing the snow to make for fast runnings.
A small group of college-ish types take turns pushing each other down the hill in a white plastic laundry basket. Making the best of what they have to celebrate this frosty winter gift. This night they have companionship, camaraderie, and a memory that will replay each time the have to wash their clothes. Nice! Parents stand at the top of the hill as their children ride plastic toboggans, saucers, sheets of cardboard, etc.. “One more son, my toes are frozen. Time to go.”
As I walk by I sense accessing eyes. A few years ago I came to this same place with my boys. Now they are grown and off on their own adventures. My former snow play partners have girlfriends and/or social engagements, and so I revel in this winter sport opportunity alone.
I find my way to the highest point on the hill and set the sled to run. If I aim just so I can hit a bridge that offers safe passage across the creek at the bottom of the slope. If I miss it’s a three foot drop over a limestone ledge into a partially frozen stream riddled with sharp rocks. Holding my old friend by the left handle and the right rail I push off in a sprint and dive on.