Dashing through the snow

A pair of the nephews received new sleds during the Buntjer family Christmas on Saturday, which meant an afternoon of face- and finger-freezing while being pulled behind the four-wheeler down on the farm.

I couldn’t help but notice that the people of my generation stayed indoors – undoubtedly too old for such frolic (or afraid we’d be feeling our age come Sunday!)

As nephew Matt tore around the yard with screaming and laughing sled riders in tow, we of the older generation sat around the grazing table talking about sledding in the good ’ol days. (Not that they were any more or any less fun, but we did have sleds with steel runners, big wooden toboggans and round, metal supersonic cylindrical disks.)

What fun it was to trek to the top of the hill in the cattle yard, plant ourselves on the sled and shove off toward the great beyond – or rather, an area where we wouldn’t run head-first into the cattle panels.

When the snow was really slick, we’d head for the driveway and its slow and steady downward slope. The steel runners worked best for this locale, and I always preferred to lay on my stomach and steer with my hands, rather than sit on the sled and steer with my feet.

Generally, this worked to my advantage in sled races against my brothers, but it was not without its flaw. Like maneuvering down any driveway, one must come to a stop before flying across the highway, and it only took one time for me to realize driving my sled off course and into a snowbank was not the best choice.

Snow tends to get in all the little nooks and crannies – like in one’s mouth, between the eye sockets and the eye glasses, between the scarf and the zipper of the snowsuit and between the wrists and the mitten cuffs.

After that first incident I learned to use my toes as brakes, and what could be better than a pair of those big lovely moon boots with the thick rubber platform soles! Mom never had to worry about us wearing a hole through our moon boots – they were the best, warmest, most comfortable boots I’ve ever owned.

The oldest of my nephews said Saturday he always preferred the sledding disk to any of the others. To me, it’s the most dangerous option because you never quite know what path this sled will take. One too many times our supersonic cylindrical disk took me backwards down Pfeil’s Hill – a local sledding mecca that is scarey enough for kids who can see what obstacles are coming before them!

The disk worked great being pulled behind a snowmobile – almost too well, as I remember. Mighty was the kid who could hang on – and stay on – the metal disk being whipped around by a snowmobile doing 360-degree-turns in the alfalfa field.

I was not the mighty kid, I will tell you that. I can also say few sledding incidents are more painful than going airborne with an inner-tube and doing a belly flop (without the inner-tube) on a snow-covered gravel driveway.

I thought of that painful childhood memory as I longingly looked out the window Saturday afternoon and wished I owned a snowsuit and a good pair of moon boots.

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