Snow brings out varied reactions depending on when you deal with it.
If you’re driving in it (or what’s left of it and its partner, ice), you curse it. If you’re watching it fall from the warm comfort of home or work, you admire it.
And if you have a chance to play in it, you freeze your butt off for one more good run down the hill.
We have several good opportunities for sled hills in Emporia, but since winter 2009 our chances to try them out have been limited at best, almost nonexistent at worst. Following our 11-inch snowfall earlier this week, we decided to try the one everybody here has to try at least once: Prairie at 24th.
There are, effectively, two separate runs just south of that intersection. Reason being? Interstate 35, which splits the sled areas and also meant engineers (thankfully) decided on a steep grade from the overpass to highway level.
We decided on the lesser of the two grades, which still had some heavy traffic as area schools took their second straight day off. There were youngsters, preteens, adolescents, college students, regular adults — even old farts like me — all either sliding down the hill or waiting their turn.
I used to love snow until I had to drive in it, but one thing I’ve always kept in my heart is the almost unfettered joy of sliding down a hill…on a toboggan, mind you, rather than in a company vehicle. If the giggles and ha-has and whoooos and “I wanna do this agains” are an indication, my daughter now shares that joy — or, rather, had it rekindled. It’s a joy that just emanates from your very core when you’re sliding downhill, backward, going faster and farther in the frozen stuff than you have ever experienced.
If you’re lucky, nothing can get in the way of that joy. Not crashing into another sledder. Not even a series of face plants in frozen water. And, in my case, not even flying off a makeshift snow ramp in the complete opposite direction of my toboggan. Or going farther than my eyeglasses…which the toboggan skimmed over…
…Which is exactly what happened to me. Several sled runs were already carved out of the snow by the time we arrived mid-afternoon. My eye was drawn to one that obviously took a lot of time and effort to create. There were two snow ramps, one about two-thirds of the way down the hill, the other at the bottom. I let everybody else get a couple runs down the hill. Then it was my turn. At my weight, it took no time to get up to forward speed. My problem was i didn’t hold on to the handles — and I caught air on the first jump. I can’t say I did a General Lee on the way up (thankfully there are no photos or videos as evidence) but the way I landed, well, um, the Duke boys would not have been proud.
So, of course, I have to try it again. I forget to hold the handles again. And, instead of driving off unscathed, righting the system like those two modern-day Robin Hoods, I do a Roscoe P. Coltrane. Again.
And, of course, that’s the run my daughter uses for the next 20 minutes. Amazingly, she had far more success making it to the second bump than her dad did.
There is something about the combination of snow, a hill and a sliding device that can warm even the coldest heart. Even if they had to spin their wheels trying to get to their favorite sliding spot. Snow has a unique way of reminding adults (even cynical news directors) there is a child inside waiting at a moment’s notice for half an hour of unbridled fun. That’s a lesson I’ll gladly repeat.