Sliding Down A Hill On A Snowy Evening

by Curt Kovener Curt line

After last Friday’s snowfall, I drove up to the wilderness retreat to see if everything was as I left it. It was…just covered in a cleansing white covering of snow.
Blazing a trail on a lane that is just a long, curving clearing through the trees can be an adventure.
After I got to the house and found everything in order, I sat and looked out the front window at the snow covered trees on the hills & hollows and the ice encrusted lake and thought back to my youth and the times sledding. Most of which occurred on Nehrt’s Hill west of town.
To the first time sledder, Nehrt’s Hill was terrifying: high, steep, and bumpy lined by large unforgiving trees if you crashed.
But with a few short passes, confidence grew and even new sledders felt the need for more speed and distance.
Usually it was the traditional metal runner sled that many of us used. But there were some innovators. Saucer sleds often offered a spinning trip down the hill that unless you quickly learned the ever changing balance point, you & disc ended up tumbling to a stop. The saucer sleds frequently made the first passes down the hill to pack the snowy coating which enabled the runnered sleds to gain more speed and distance.
Sometimes scoop shovels were borrowed by the Nehrt barn. Usually it was the guys sitting in the shovel holding on for dear life the wooden handle between the thighs and keeping their feet high enough to not suppress speed and not too high to tumble backwards but always ready to drag in the snow for guidance or an emergency stop.
Possibly one of the most fun downhill conveyances was a tractor tire inner tube. There were several single passenger car tire tubes going down the hill. But the larger tube from the rear wheel tractor tire meant group fun.
Sometimes we would sit on the tube, interlace our legs toward the center like spokes on a wheel and shove off down the hill. Guy were yelling, girls were squealing their glee at a communal slide down the hill. There was much laughter, smiles, and red faces from the snowy spray as we trudged willingly up the hill for a second thrill.
At some point we got the brilliant(?) idea to lay down on the tube enmass. The guys were prone on the bottom with the girls clinging desperately to whomever they could. Maybe it was at this point where co-ed sledding crossed over to another realm.
What was discovered challenging the hill in this fashion was at while the tube cushioned the bumps in the hills, the ones on top sometimes went airborne and clinging to necks, shoulders, articles of clothing to keep from being dismounted, would slam into the person beneath. Sometimes there was bruising; sometimes the wind would be knocked out of the middle men.
And it all resulted in unabashed laughter.
And there was this time that someone located the hood from a 1940’s era car made of American steel. Turning it shiny side down (after a coat of wax was applied to the faded paint) the group sled looked somewhat like a boat bow big enough for the entire student body. Remember this was back when they made B-I-G cars.
The group rides in the car hood soon lost its appeal as the hood was heavy and took several guys to lug it back to the top.
Tractor tubes were much more fun. Almost as much fun as the bonfire and hot chocolate that someone’s kind mother seemed to always provide.