The Fifty Cent Tour

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Making Do

I'm standing at the front door watching my neighbor shovel his driveway down to the black. By the time he is finished there will not be a more pristine, blacker driveway in the neighborhood. That is until the plow comes by again.

Schadenfreude.

I'm clutching a cup of hot coffee close to my chest hoping the heat will radiate out and melt all of this winter wonderland nonsense. The warmth rising out of my cup does a steamy tango with the cold air and fogs up the storm door. Out of sight, out of mind. I close my eyes trying to recall when it was that I actually loved this stuff, lived for its arrival and mourned its passing.

We were lucky enough to grow up across the street from a playground with a sledding hill.
I think my parents were sold on the house before setting foot into it, based on that fact alone.
We spent a lot time covering every square inch of that playground, and I assure you, there isn't a blade of grass in there that we don't know about.

The first decent snowfall was an eagerly awaited event for every sledding enthusiast in the neighborhood, which was pretty much every kid. We'd suit up with socks under our mittens and bread bags lining the inside of our boots, 3 pairs of pants and a few sweatshirts.
That's how we rolled...err... sledded in the days before active outdoor outerwear "systems". 
We rode Flexible Flyers, Eskimo toboggans and those flying saucers that were kind of uncool to be seen riding.

Our parents didn't tag along and micro-manage our sledding activities and arrange hot chocolate playdates. My mom would send us out with a thermos of Nestle's Quik (made with hot water because she needed to save the milk for dinner and the baby) and peanut butter crackers. We would take turns drinking out of the cup from the top of the thermos, and yeah, we'd accuse each other of hogging the cup, but that's just the way it was and we dealt with it. No running home to tattle-tale because you'd miss out on sledding!
And the sledding was sweet.
The middle part of the hill, the crown, was the steepest part. The left part, headed toward the tennis courts, was suicide and the right side, a gentle slope, was the baby hill. We'd build jumps out of mounds of snow down the middle of steepest part of the hill. Some serious air could be had there if you were going fast enough. The toboggan rocked on the jumps! It was clearly the ride of choice. And if you were going solo on the toboggan? It was like flying! I remember feeling that cool "pit of the stomach" dropping sensation taking those jumps.

We spent hours on that hill. Up and down with our sleds hundreds of times. We all were saddened when the snow pack started to melt and dark scars of earth started peeking out.
It meant the sledding was done until another snow storm.
And to think, I used to pray for that!

I stand here now, staring out of my front storm door, it's still snowing and it's starting to get dark. I smile, not so much at the current situation but at the memories of the past.

That's the way it was then and this is the way it is now.
I gotta deal with it. :)


Peace ~ Rene

38 comments:

  1. We grew up steps from a perfect sledding hill, and spent hours and hours and hours there. At the bottom of the hill was a basketball court that got flooded every winter for skating. We were so lucky.

    These days, I'm happy to enjoy the snow from indoors. I suppose I should get off my ass and try a winter sport or two. This great post is inspiring me...

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  2. Just a wonderful description of "old school" sledding--I remember the wooden toboggans & our metal "flying saucer," as well as a wooden sled with metal runners I got one year for Christmas. Those were different days, with different attitudes toward winter for sure!

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  3. Yep, it's like that, on the other side of the telescope of passing years. I felt the same way about the 21" walloping of snow we got 2 weeks ago.

    Did i grow old, that quickly?

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  4. My cousins Claudia and Gina remembered you, I never got around to asking Justin. None of the male cousins were there. I remember my Jersey youth and sledding at the parks! I wouldn't mind a little snow!

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  5. The bread bags, the socks under the mittens, the sledding with the neighborhood kids, are you sure we werent neighbors??? Great descrpition of those great memories, and I too have wondered when did the white stuff become so dreaded? Bring on Spring!! Sue

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  6. amen sister! I used to sled by railroad tracks where one side was a sheer dropoff. As you said, no parents, and someone always went home bloody. Kids these days are kinda wussy...

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  7. I've never been sledding in my life. Now I've rolled down a few hills but there was never snow present in my youth. Oh, well.

    Great description of what sounds like some good times.

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  8. Yeah, I remember our years in Seattle when it snowed and we sledded down the hills behind the Albertson's across the street from us, or giddily watched cars doing brodies in Albertson's vacant white parking lot. And presto logs.

    Yeah, sometimes I am nostalgic for those days. Most days not.

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  9. magical, Rene...
    yours, the pen that transports us.

    xo~ Chuck

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  10. I love it, Rene! Your recall of days when snow was good, and the snow.

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  11. Thanks for bring back memories of my childhood days!
    Nice post, Rene.

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  12. Sounds to me like you need to go sledding.

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  13. those were the days...our neighbor had a recessed driveway with a ten foot drop off wall...we used to race down the steepest part of the hill and play chicken with the fates to see who could get closest...without going over.

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  14. Rene, what great memories for you. Now I understand a little of the beginnings of your sense of adventure!

    This post brought back some memories of our grown-up children. We live within walking distance of the local high school, but the distance is cut in half if one walks through a few backyards. Well, no self-respecting teen wore boots to school in the nineties, so our daughter wrapped her shoes nearly to her knees in plastic bags, secured with rubber bands, and discreetly removed the bags as soon as she got to school.

    And, I can still look out our front window and watch the new generation of young children playing on the "mountain" in the middle of our cul-de-sac, formed by the many trips the snow plow makes. How fun for our kids when it got really big and didn't melt for weeks and weeks and weeks... Sleds and saucers and little ones who were barely able to walk with all the outerwear.

    But for you, my friend, I offer cheers to the new year with a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows, from inside the house, of course!

    Great post, as always! Thank you.

    ~ xo,
    Ginny

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  15. P.S. I forgot to say that, although I had to look it up, I love your use of Schadenfreude. Great word!

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  16. I love your descriptive writing. I can just imagine the smell of Nestle's Quik in the cold air and anticipation of the next sled ride down.

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  17. Wanna see the perfect sledding hill? It's about 1/4 mile from our house. The hill is so long that walking back up is out of the question - I drive the Jeep down there and pick the kids up at the bottom and drive them back up. It's almost a mile from top to bottom, and varies from rolling slope to death-defying vertical drop. THAT's a sledding hill.

    I'm still a kid at heart. But yeah, it'll never be like it was back then. Your post took me right back to my childhood. Thanks for that.

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  18. Loved your sledding memories....!!

    And I know we didn't have "snow pants". We just played out in the snow in our jeans and didn't mind getting soaked...
    Its amazing how many kids don't get to just go out and play anymore...

    PS I think we have the same neighbor.

    SheilaC

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  19. Having grown up in Texas, I hardly saw snow. I always thought how much fun it would be. When I moved to Albuquerque, I got to "taste" the snow and learned that I hate it! =)

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  20. Good memories. Today, though, I sit indoors and watch the weather go by. Got a kick out of the word, Schadenfreude. Thanks for the education.

    ~ Just Joany
    Red Wagon Flights

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  21. Sounds magical... It was 78 degrees here today! I remember quite a few warm Christmases from my childhood years. And, when we were lucky, there was snow up in the mountains... for weekend trips. I always wonder what it would have been like to actually live where it snows. We rolled down hills of grass, and sled on cardboard down the really steep ones. No hot cocoa, though.

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  22. Oh Rene, I can relate to that. We were 5 door down for the "big sledding hill" and would bundle up and head out first thing in the morning with the "instructions" to be home before the street lights came one. Those were the days.

    Now, gladly, I live in Southern California and avoid all things snow as much as possible. But this was a great reminder of the "good old days".

    Thanks.

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  23. Ahh. Couple pair of corduroys, our feet in plastic bread bags and then into our boots, off to the hill...

    Years later, while getting my head x-rayed (insert jokes here!), the doctor asked when I had broken my nose and that's when I remembered the wooden tobaggon and the day I hit the tree. MAN that thing sucked to steer!!

    Pearl

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  24. Nothing gets the chil'en more excited than the announcment of snow day! We used to spend most of it outdoors sledding and screaming down a neighbor's steep drively. Now they just wanna sleep in! But I don't mind 'dealing' with that...I don't wanna be out there either!
    How many more days 'til Spring???

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  25. We left our houses with sleds in hand, and didn't return for the whole day. WIth NO hot chocolate, but nerves of steel.


    We were frozen solid when we returned, but happy, happy, happy.

    Ah. those were the days.

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  26. Yes, we grew old that fast...
    :)

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  27. And now I am scared to death of those little ramps the kids make--don't feel so good coming down on a 35 year old butt.

    Beautiful new photo Rene.

    xo

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  28. I was so glad to see more than one person in your comments mention "bread bags".

    Sometimes, we tend to think we are the only one with "those" memories.

    How lucky were you to have a playground at hand!

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  29. I used to love snow, too - probably because, growing up in Florida, we never had any unless we were visiting relatives up north at Christmas-time, and everything was festive and fun and there were snowmen to build and sleds to ride...

    And then I moved further north and had to shovel it in the winter. Ugh.

    Beautifully written piece.

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  30. Brings back memories of sledding down the hill behind our house, only the hill led into the pond, so we had to have snow and freezing temps for long enough for the pond to freeze to a safe thickness! That was back in the 60s and we certainly were not micromanaged! We skated for hours on that pond with not an adult in sight, and you know, we all lived! We flew down that hill with the greatest of ease on sleds and tobaggons!

    My VGNO

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  31. As always Rene, your posts are evocative adn movingly written. Love this line:

    "The warmth rising out of my cup does a steamy tango with the cold air and fogs up the storm door."

    So well put. what a picture that brings to mind.

    your experience is so opposite to mine. for me, no snow, and now tons of snow and I love it more now then I did the few times we got a 1/4 inch of slush. :)

    I always love it when you are able to visit and drop line. thank you for your excellent fortifier cheerio comment. Loved that. Very fun. :)

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  32. Just to let you also know, i have gone back adn read the ones missed from the hols, back to the xmas date post adn left comments on each, so hop eyou catch them.

    A very good new year to you Rene. I so love your blog.

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  33. Love the old sled hills. What great description. Thanks for the memories.
    Happy VGNO!

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  34. We had a great sledding hill not far from home.

    Now, we have one out back, but watch out for the trees!

    Have a great VGNO!

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  35. Ha! Good old bread bags inside of boots. I did the same thing! Memories are wonderful, especially from our younger days!

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  36. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!!! I love your reflections...and your vividly painted memories...whatever you write-- be it prose or poetry-- you invariably bring a freshness ...a unique and extraordinary perspective...and so you continually cause me to see things in new ways! I love that. ~Janine XO

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  37. Stopping by for a little belated VGNO action. Hope you are having a great weekend!

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  38. Ahhh...the good old days! Isn't it funny that we're the ones reminiscing about them now, the people who did that used to seem so old! I wish I grew up where it snowed (OR coast, lot's of rain, no snow)! So I still love to watch it pile up, but up here in Portland it's very rare (last year) that it stays for more than a day or two. Love hearing about your memories! :)

    Hope you had a Happy VGNO!

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