Monday, December 10, 2012

The Sledding Party

The last few days have been cold. We're talking 50-layers-aren't-enough cold. Huddle-under-a-blanket-and-don't-come-out-until-spring cold. Fantasize-about-burning-furniture cold. You know, Hollywood-blockbuster-disaster-movie-end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it cold.

It's been cold.

I like winter. I like having snow. I like having fun in the snow. But when it's so cold your boogers freeze if you're out for longer than 10 seconds, there's not much fun you can safely have. That leaves you stuck indoors with a teenage boy and an unnamed number of cats, all of whom have cabin fever. But at least the cats handle it with some grace.

And sure, I could scrub my bathrooms or organize something, but it's much more enjoyable to sit around and blog about the fun we had last week when it was still warm. We'd had a stretch of decent weather, culminating in one glorious day where the temperature got almost to 40. I knew the cold weather was coming right after, so I planned a sledding party as one last hurrah before our forced incarceration.

I like to surprise people, so I kept the party a secret from my niece and nephews. This time my surprise backfired on me a little bit---when I showed up at the school to whisk them away for an afternoon of fun and frolic I discovered Tiggy had to stay for a concert and Damon was home sick. Fine. I didn't want them in my party anyway. You can have a perfectly happening party with 3 people and 3 dogs (because of course I invited out Jaquiline Hyde the Beautiful Border Collie, and Clancy-doesn't-get-out-much Gibbs.

The sun sets so early in winter that by the time school lets out there's hardly any daylight left. Devon and I tried to hurry, but by the time we made it out to the house, the sun was already setting. I called ahead and Caleb had our snow gear all ready for us. We had a couple of sleds, a snowboard, and for the first time, a pair of skis with boots that actually locked in.

My mom had gotten them last year, but we'd never had enough snow to try it out before now. We had been using a  pair of skis that we just stood on until we fell off. I kind of liked the emergency-eject option, personally, but now we could be just like real skiers. Just like them.

Our sledding hill was located some distance behind the house. I have no hills right by the house, a source of disappointment to me; to be fair, hills are rather scarce around here in general. But last week Caleb and I scouted out one out back in the neighbor's field. It drifted with quite a bit of snow, so the slope was still covered and smooth.

Too bad we had to hike 50 miles to get there, but we hardly minded the distance because of the beautiful sunset.

We...puff, puff....hardly.....wheeze...minded all. Collapse.

The dogs were having a great time. No lack of energy on their part. We seriously need to train those slackers to be sled dogs!

Clancy's right there in the center. White dogs don't show up well in the snow!

Caleb and Devon started having fun right away while I stood at the bottom of the hill and tried to figure out ski boots while hopping on one foot. Ski boots are interesting, to say the least. They're very...supportive (read immobilizing) and one gets the feeling that the ankles are pretty safe. I understand, though, why people are always breaking their knees while skiing. I felt like a flamingo just trying to walk in them----I can't imagine trying to fall. I could feel my kneecaps crumbling!

I made one slow, VERY careful trip down the side of the hill before deciding Devon could have a turn. I wouldn't want to be selfish, you know.

Devon did very well on skis, but he's something of a monkey anyway. Only my passion for accurate journalism compels me to report that he fell down his first time down the hill. One leg---with ski still attached---ended up about five feet uphill from the body, but after a "speedy" rescue, he reassembled his limbs and continued on his way. Do real-life rescue squads stop to laugh first?

All too soon, the sky darkened and the wind started to pick up. Fun is fun, but nothing says "wet blanket" like getting frozen to death, so we had to say good-bye to our play-time and head back to shelter. It had been a wonderful, fun afternoon of memory-making.

But the party wasn't quite over yet. It's against sledding party rules to end an evening without curling up with a nice glass of hot cocoa and a good movie. "It's a Wonderful Life" is still one of the greatest Christmas films ever made. And how will Hollywood ever surpass it---when faith, family, and fidelity are considered so old-fashioned and out-of-date now?

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