Sledding memories continue as the snow flies |

Sledding memories continue as the snow flies

Anna Aughenbaugh
Fort Collins, Colo.

My first memory of sledding is of my 13-year-old Uncle Jud pulling me down a snow packed street. Illinois winters are cold and damp, so he didn’t have to run down the street long before I begged to go back into the house. It took longer to get into and out of my wool snow pants and bulky coat than the time we spent in the snow. I never was adventuresome enough to do a belly flop onto a sled like the neighbor boys did, so sledding was never a solo sport for me.

Long after we were married, with me on the sled behind my hubby, Allen, we went down a steep hill near Tiskilwa, Illinois. Allen said, “See those cows at the bottom of the hill? We’re going to go right under the center one.”

That sounded too scary for me and right then my leg developed a mind of its own and shot off the sled, landing me in the snow. Of course, Allen laughed hardily as he picked me up and told me he’d had no intentions of going between the legs of the cow.

We took our grade school age children to a park that used to be a landfill near Yorkville, Illinois. Mt. Trashmore was a steep, snow packed sled run. After the long climb to the top, the ride down was exhilarating. Our daughter and a friend were on a sled that was careening towards the bottom, with them enjoying every second of the ride, until all of a sudden the sled veered to the right and went tumbling off the side of the ‘mountain.’ We feared they’d broken all the bones in their bodies, but before we could reach them, they came up over the edge, excited about this adventure and ready for another ride.

When Allen was teaching sixth grade, we’d take our kids and his class sledding on a hill that bottomed out just before a river. The toboggan seemed quite safe to me, so I settled onto it with Allen and three 12-year-olds. The snow flew up into our faces, making us look like Frosty the Snowman as we sped down the hill. Halfway down, Allen said, “If we’re going fast enough, we will go out onto the frozen river.” I sure was glad when we stopped just short of the water. Later we sipped hot chocolate and huddled around the warming fire provided by the park district.

Two foot pieces of oilcloth always went with us on our family vacations in June. It was great fun for the kids to sit on them and slide down snow packed hills in Colorado, Yellowstone and Montana. One hill in Yellowstone proved to be much steeper than anticipated, so our eldest son, Larry, went tumbling down head over heels. Our younger kids saw his predicament and gingerly made their way back down on foot. After brushing himself off and realizing he was still intact, he was ready to look for another hill to conquer.

We moved our small runner sled to Colorado, but soon found out that the runners just sunk into the snow. Because of that, we invested in some inner tube type sleds that glide over the snow. When we get good sledding snow, we carry our tubes to a park down the hill from our house. On beautiful blue sky days, the temperature doesn’t have to be very high to allow us to make several runs down the hill. Even though we usually don’t have children with us, we love to fly down the hill with snow blowing in our faces. The tubes often turn circles several times before we get to the bottom. Allen and I try to beat each others length of ride and often laugh until our sides hurt. The younger sledders often give us ‘high fives’ and sometimes ask to borrow our sleds.

After trudging home one day, I told Allen I’d never made a snow angel, so he marched me to our backyard for another new experience. Not being nimble, by the time I managed to get back on my feet, the angel was unrecognizable, but I was triumphant and could add that to my list of new things I’ve done.

What wonderful times we’ve had in the winter wonderland, not the least of which are reminiscing together over cups of hot chocolate.

The runner sled is relegated to being a Christmas decoration. The tube sleds are kept where we have easy access to them when the snow covers the hill and entices us to tromp down to the park to play.

If you haven’t sledded for awhile, bundle up, grab your sled and maybe a child or two and head for a hill. You may get the giggles and feel like a kid again.

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