William came for the weekend. We baked some brownies. Repotted a couple plants. He and his grandpa shoveled. ($2 worth.) He brought his sled and warm clothes along. Across the river there is a playground, and the hill there is a popular sledding spot.
The parking area was not plowed, so I parked across the street in a church parking lot and we walked across. I spent over an hour standing at the top of the hill in the bright sunshine of a 17F day. It was cold, but the sky was blue and everyone was in high spirits. It was fun to people watch.
A mother with two daughters was there and she was cautioning her kids the entire time. "Stay away from the fence!" "Pick up your feet!" "Move out of the way!" "Watch out!" Over and over she said, "I'm not looking for a trip to the ER!" Nobody got hurt.
A father and his son were there. Dad was right in the thick of it, dad dressed in his Carhartts and the son in his coat and snow pants. They each had their own sleds and were racing each other down the hill over and over. Dad was catching some fine air on the ramps. He acted and sounded like a big kid, and his kid was loving it.
Another dad brought his son too. William and that boy knew each other from school. That dad brought a folding lawn chair and sat not far from where I stood. He enjoyed watching. "Try the ramp!" he encouraged his son. "For God and Country!" he said. "Duty and Honor!" His son looked at him. He'd obviously heard this schtick before. The father said, "Okay then, do it for your mom! I know how you love your mom!" he said.
The young man did get the nerve to try it. Not until later, did I hear that father talking about their plans. "I've only got one more day with you," he said. His boy sat beside him in the snow, his cheeks bright red from the cold. "I know," he said.
That's a great gift to give to a child, don't you think? To speak kindly of his mother even though they are no longer together?
There were a group of high school boys. flying down the hill over and over again, shouting as they hit the ramps, flying, arms and legs akimbo and crashing off the track into the deep snow, as gleeful as any of the kids there, and completely unselfconscious.
There was another grandma with a grandson. He had a fancy sled, one of those with steering and three skis. A lot of kids stopped to stare enviously, holding their plastic sleds from Ollies or Big Lots or Walmart. However, they lost interest quickly. The boy was afraid of the sled and jumped off of it every time that it began to pick up speed. He'd land on the slope and the sled would go shooting down the hill without him. His grandma would trudge down the hill to pull the sled back up the hill as her grandson dragged along behind her dispiritedly.
Quite an assortment of humanity there.
Madeline L'engle said, "The great thing about getting older, is that you don't lose the other ages you've been." Today, I was, for a time, five years old, sliding down a big hill on a wooden sled with metal runners. It was cold. My dad was there. The two days were separated by 60 years, but sounded much the same. The sky was just as blue. The trees just as sharply silhouetted.
I stood with my hands in my pockets, being five once again.
"Grandma!" William shouted, "watch me hit this ramp!"
I blinked, and grandma left five behind to appreciate her grandson's moment.