It has been said that man does not live by bread alone, but I found that woman can live by sled alone.
You can trudge up the hill and carefully, painstakingly, carve a firm path down by inching your way in a snow coaster, or flying saucer, as we used to call them. After a few slow, snow packing trips down the hill, where you walk up hill breaking another path in fresh snow, you will have a hard packed run, where your coaster will glide to the bottom. In fact it will go further on every run.
I did this today in a feather-light snow storm with only my reluctant Maine Coon cat Auggie as a co-conspirator. Auggie didn’t help. He didn’t want onto the coaster, he just walked way out in the field with me and sat on the Adirondack chair observing my folly. After a few runs as I edged closer and closer to his quiet chair, he jumped into the snow and left wonderful tracks with his huge snowshoe feet. And I was left to sled alone.
I turn 60 this year and at first I thought, oh this is attempt at sledding is pathetic, but as the run got faster and longer it was marvelous. Why, I pondered, am I so happy to bike, swim, skate or swing alone, but I always consider sledding alone to be a sad endeavor.
I trudged to the top again and again and every time I pushed my start back a few feet and began to more quickly cross my legs so I was a little swift ball on an orange disc. I found after the first few feet, the coaster rotated 108 degrees, so that I ended the run turned around. And as I couldn’t see I landed smack in the black berry thicket OUCH.
A good thing about sledding as an adult is that you can turn on your problem solving brain. I would parse the physics of my coaster. Problem: I end up reversed. Possible solution: if I began facing backwards, would the same rotation, spin me so that I make the bulk of the trip careening frontward? Well it did, and on the first try. I felt like a jubilant Olympic athlete. I had made my own run, problem solved and although I fell off at the end, every time, I t made me laugh out loud.
And there I was, snow covered and alone, giggling. Auggie had gone home; I had obviously embarrassed him. The weak winter sun was setting and the trees scratched the sky as lacy snow flew in blustery guts off the roof of the barn. The nuthatches and golden finches gobbled at the full feeder of thistle seeds and I was full of joy.
No one was there to see it, or share it and still it was palpable and soul soothing. If you sled alone, chortle and return home snow encrusted at nearly 60 is the ebullience imagined less real because no one saw it save a large feline and feasting feathered friends? I think it is more solid as it proves that the glimpses of pure joy, free, timeless and solitary are gifts for all ages.