The hill is in a field behind Margaret’s house. Shaded by the surrounding woods, the snow doesn’t melt there unless the temperature is above freezing for a while.
So it’s still deep enough for sledding.
Margaret used to own the bookstore in town. Jon has known her and her husband Bill, since he moved Upstate. During the summer we had socially distanced dinner on their screened-in porch. But we haven’t seen them since the weather got too cold to sit outside.
Then a couple of weeks ago Margaret asked me if I wanted to go sledding.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been sledding. Margaret, who is in her mid-seventies, usually goes with her grandchildren when they visit.
But that isn’t happening this year.
Wearing masks and keeping at least six feet apart, I chose the purple plastic sled and Margaret took the orange one from where she keeps them in the woodshed next to the front door.
We stood on the top of the hill which is steep enough to slide down but not too steep to walk back up. Margaret warned me of where the big holes were so I could avoid them. Then told me how she props her feet on the edge of the sled so she can use them to stop if all else fails. Otherwise, she’d end up in the trees and brambles.
Margaret went first. She expertly sailed straight down the hill and slowly came to a stop just before the tree line. I was impressed, she made it look easy.
When it was my turn, I flew down the hill out of control, circling to the right I practically had to turn myself over to stop.
As we dragged our sleds up the hill we talked about what was going on in our lives and in the country
On the way down the hill, everything vanished but my body bouncing over the snow trying to gain just enough control not to crash into brambles. It was like a quick-moving meditation, instantaneously throwing me into the moment.
We went up and down the hill for about a half-hour then took a walk. But before returning our sleds to the woodshed, we took one more slide down the hill.
If there wasn’t a pandemic going on, I don’t know that Margaret would even have thought to ask me to go sledding. And now it’s one of the few things we can do together.
Margaret invited me back again as I was leaving. And as long as the snow stays, I’ll take her up on her offer.
I wonder if next winter when the pandemic is hopefully under control, we’ll think to go sledding again. Maybe by then, we’ll just be thrilled to be able to go to lunch together. And sledding will just become a memory of these strange times.