Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Best sledding course ever

After an unexpectedly heavy snowfall throughout much of the day on Friday, the kids rebuilt the sledding course that had begun to deteriorate in recent weeks and spent hours sledding over the weekend.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I looked up periodically to watch them. Their course ran along the edge of our lawn, right near where the open space meets the trees which thicken into the forest of the state park that adjoins our property. Through that forest, I could see cross-country skiers streaming by all day both Saturday and Sunday on the park’s legendary cross-country trails.

This is the best sledding course the kids have ever built. This is only our second winter in this house, and last year we barely had any snow, so they didn’t discover the full potential of this yard until sometime around the February 8th blizzard.

Looking at it objectively, you wouldn’t be struck by its sledding potential. The yard at our last house had a much more obvious sledding hill. This yard doesn’t even slope all that much.

But Rick showed the kids how the slight incline combined with the length of the yard and the curve it formed around the side of the house made for an ideal track: fast, long, varied, with room to build up three or four jumps. He helped Tim sculpt the course the first time around; this weekend Tim conscripted Holly to help him pack it down and clean it up, and they were off. Sledding individually. Sledding double. Sledding backwards. Sledding with the dog running in their wake. They even made up a game in which they pretended to be mail carriers who delivered the “mail” – in the form of sticks – to various “houses” – in the form of rocks and stumps – along the route.

As I often remind the kids, there are very few perfect sledding days in any given winter; this past weekend we had two of them. I’m sure the cross-country skiers I could see through the woods felt the same way, and part of me regretted that it’s been years since I went cross-country skiing. If I didn’t feel like I needed to be at home right now, I could be skiing, I told myself briefly. But if I weren’t home right now, continued the thought, I’d be missing the chance to see the kids go sledding. And watching them have this much fun was surely just as good as being out skiing on my own – a truth every parent quickly learns.

When I glanced at Facebook later in the weekend, I was surprised to see how many people were bemoaning the new snowfall and the consequent extension of winter. It seems everyone but me is ready for spring. Sure, I look forward to warmer, sunnier days. I’m still enjoying the snow, though, and the sight of my kids sledding.

Sometimes when I look at these piles of snow, I think of how much mud will result when it all melts, and I think about how much time I already spend sweeping and vacuuming and mopping and wonder how I’ll ever keep the floors clean come spring.

But then I remind myself it’s an awfully small price to pay for joy. Seize the day; seize the winter and all the winter weather that came with it this year. Let mud season come when it must. Let the floors get dirty. Skip the mopping once in a while, even. Right now, there’s sledding and skiing and wonderful winter weather, and all kinds of fun to be had in the snow.

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