It snowed today in Colorado, a wonderful eight inches or so, and I didn't have to go to work. I will work the rest of the week, but today was wonderful--no rushing out the door, but actually having the time to shovel the sidewalks and enjoy hot coffee several times before and after the shoveling.
Winter’s cold settles into Missouri, where I grew up, in late autumn and doesn’t offer many warm, sunny days until spring. It isn’t like Colorado, where I’ve lived most of my adult life, where t-shirts and shorts show up even in January. The sun hides often during Missouri winters, the snow stays around for a long time and freezes to hard and dirty ridges that are hard to walk or drive over. On the other hand, big winter storms in Missouri can fill the sky with white goose feathers, moist and beautiful. They are so ready to make drivers’ nightmares of hills, but also create marvelously slick runs for those wooden sleds with metal runners, like my own childhood’s Flexible Flyer.
Before I moved to the city, before I was twelve, I lived in a small town of about 800 people. All my relatives were near—grandparents, aunts and uncles—ready to give me, my cousins, and friends happy times. One of the happiest and most adventurous experiences came on snowy days, when some one of the adults would tie our sleds to a car and take us flying around town on the snow-packed streets. Remember, on a snowy day in a little town years ago there would have been little traffic. Even if we had met another car, they would have watched out for us. We were safe back there behind the car and loving every fling around the corners. It was especially exciting when we hooked up two sleds to the bumper and had the added challenge of avoiding collisions. Sometimes our bodies slid off the sleds and careened over slippery roads, up onto curbs. The driver would finally notice we were gone, probably by our screams to stop, stop. We would get up, brush off, reposition the sleds, and move right on.
This special sledding only happened in the beginning of the snowy days. After that, even the few vehicles driving would wear off enough snow so that the sled wouldn’t always glide, but would hit bare spots that tore up the runners. The sledding also happened late afternoons, because we were usually in school, so really didn’t get ready until after four. It was getting dark by about five. We had an hour of pure adrenalin-charged fun until we had to call it quits.
We arrived back home, peeled off frozen, sopping wet clothes, and drank hot chocolate while we screamed and giggled remembering the curves, bumps, and near disasters. Our skin warmed and we waited for supper.