By Jelane A. Kennedy
At some point most of us who live in snow country give up sledding. For me it was probably around late middle school when I learned to downhill ski. It was time to move on to more adult activities. In high school gym class I learned to cross country ski and continued to enjoy this less expensive sport depending on the place I lived. A lot of this had to do with whether there was any snow or not. About ten years ago I took on the sport of snowshoeing. My little secret was that I loved to go sledding but not having children of my own I felt I had limited access.
As a kid I remember my first personal sled. It was blue two-person toboggan with two levers for steering. It was not long before the levers fell off and it was then just my mitten hands that I used to steer. I was never a saucer person. I did at one point try the “new” sled on the market, it looked like a fruit roll-up. But ultimately it was the trusty blue sled. I used this sled most often at the local country club’s golf course, where every kid in town went sledding. We had our favorite hills.
One winter my sister and I created a little bobsled run out our back door on the tiny hill that gently ran into our hard to manage backyard. The idea was to run as fast as you could and belly flop on the sled and race down the run. Doing this over and over again to see how far you could go! One night after dinner Mom even turned on the back porch light so we could continue the fun.
Then one winter we were introduced to the door toboggan. My Uncle created it out of an old door with recycled kneelers from a nearby Catholic Church that was remodeling. The only real place to hold on was the doorknob. With my four cousins and sister we hung on to the door and each other as my Uncle zoomed around the snow covered wheat field pulling us behind the tractor. Of course one or more of us would fall off chasing to get back on.
Eileen got me back into sledding. Our first adventure was about ten years ago when her two nieces, one was in middle school the other in high school, wanted to go sledding on the nearby golf course. We had one sled between the four of us but we had fun that day sledding and making snow angels. Seven years ago while visiting Eileen’s cousin’s family we went sledding prompted by the innocent notion that it was a fun thing to do for with five-year-old twins (Elizabeth & Melissa). Four adults, two kids, a dog and two sleds later we played like we all were five. Those two winters my forgotten secret love saw the light of day. Later that second winter Eileen gave me a new green sled.
Since that time, Eileen and I did try tubing. We happened to be vacationing near a ski center. One of the afternoon activities offered for free was tubing. We had a good time that day. But we received a lot of stares. What were two adults without kids doing on the slope?
Quietly my green sled very much like my old blue sled has waited for me to finally realize that sledding is a lifetime sport. This winter it has finally happened. Again prompted by sledding with Elizabeth and Melissa, now twelve over the holiday vacation. I am ready to admit, I love sledding!
The following week without borrowed kids in tow, we went sledding. As a lifetime snow sport it has many advantages. First you can’t fall down, because you are already on the ground! Second speed can be control by how far up a hill the start is and the use of mitten hands to slow down. Equipment can be pretty inexpensive, snow pants and a sled with the usual winter coat, hat and mittens.
What finally solidified this change in thought was the beautiful afternoon on the free groomed sledding hill at the Schroon Lake Ski Center (Schroon Lake Golf Course). The aerobic thump of my heart as I climbed the hill. The clear blue sky and sparkling snow as the sun beamed down. The crisp cool smell of winter air as it was inhaled. The view of the mountains and evergreen trees gently embraced in a blanket of snow. Showing off gentle curves of grace. Finally the rushing glide down the slope, each ride different with each climb up the hill. The laughter of kids of all ages, and lastly the gentleman wizened in years climbing out of his truck with a sled in hand.
(c) 2013 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran