Smack, Whack, the Ice Is Cold

Over the holidays (yeah, I know I’m still back there…still recovering), I spent some time with that fluffy, white stuff that falls from the sky. Snow! Lovely snow. Lovely cold, icy, slippery snow. In all its many forms, a beautiful sight and a great way to bring in the New Year.

A few years back, I drove with my sister and our kids for hours around the mountain in search of untainted, pure white snow. Ha. I  think we actually would have settled for brown snow. The fact is, where there should have been white there was only brown, and it wasn’t snow. We checked. Dirt and such.

This year, luckily, we saw plenty of snow thanks to a couple of recent storms. We had a blast sledding down the mountain, dragging our circles of snow behind us.

Here’s what I now label safe, hazard-free, predictable snow play. Notice the wide, gentle slopes, cushioned with a reliable amount of soft snow.

Snowplay
Closely monitored. They tell you when.

Fast forward to our rockin’ New Year’s Eve bash. Here we are in the empty ice rink.

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The disco ball showered tiny green dots across the ice. There’s that.

Apparently, the guests were coming back pretty soon, uh….later. Like never.

A few other guests did make it, a mother and her two daughters. We talked for a bit and she revealed to me how her step-daughter was in the ER due to a concussion she suffered while sledding. Apparently, her step-daughter wanted to be as bold as her brother and followed him down the hill. I knew the place. We had passed it earlier and had already promised the kids we would go the next day.

The place, Little Sweden. It’s a former ski resort, closed down years ago and now a popular destination for snow play, so long as you can get a parking spot. We kept our promise and went on New Year’s Day. Big mistake! The place was teeming with sledding daredevils and, unlike the safe cushion of the soft snow above, this hill was icy and hard, and the wind picked up.

After successfully going down the bunny hills and the next level hill up, my son coaxed me into going down the big hill. The monster!

Here’s some pics of my son going down the mountain to give you a sense of it:

Top of hill (see red arrow)

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There he goes:

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Going:

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Still going:

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This hill is completely insane! How did I not notice? Do you see those little dots at the end of the hill? Those are people and those are cars that line the road. I hope you get a sense of the steepness. Add to this, the total chaos of bodies flying down in all different directions. Oh, it was madness.

Why I decided to DO this, I have no idea! My son and I went together on the sled, which is probably our first mistake. With so much weight, we had a lot of speed, hit a huge bump on the way down, went flying, actually got some air and BAM! I hit my head. Translated in haiku:

Smack, whack, the ice is
cold as my head rolled inside
stinging, swirling stars

The impact was pretty solid, like a cement block crashing into my skull. If someone caught it on video, I don’t think I could even watch it. I have no idea what happened. I do know I was scared to death. I didn’t pass out. I got up right away. My head hurt, and I was dizzy. My son was okay and asked me a series of questions, which I answered correctly.

Friends…I’m lucky to be alive.

I knew about the dangers of this hill and worried sick over my kids hitting their heads. Recall, only the night before I learned of a little girl laying in a hospital bed due to THIS hill! I saw plenty of accidents when I was there, too. What I forgot was that I was just as equally at risk as anyone else.

What’s completely amazing to me is after such a hard-hitting blow, I bounced back as if it never happened. I even drove 100 miles after on a windy road I had never driven before. “Kids, if I pass out, call 911. Okay?”

I bounced right back. That’s what we do. But I wanted to pause and reflect on it. I know I’m lucky and I’m so very grateful I’m here. It’s a rough start to the new year, but it also puts things in perspective for me. I don’t take anything for granted. Your life really can vanish in a blink of an eye. All the petty things just got squeezed out. It’s a reminder for me to linger a little longer in the moments that matter, making them as full as possible. I wish you a great new year, savoring the moments that count.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Oops!

This week’s photo challenge is Oops! 

‘Tis the season to revel in photographic (and/or photogenic) disasters.

I have an assortment of photos that will satisfy this challenge. Please forgive my indulgence, but I’m going to share a few. I had a hard time deciding which ones to include. I have plenty of blurry ones, but I like these the best.

I probably pleaded with him to smile for the camera. Bad mommy!

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Every half-second my kids must move, and the closer they are in proximity to each other, the less likely they will be still for the camera. Didn’t quite get this one.

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That’s not quite it either!

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Here are a few blurry ones, but I think they’re pretty interesting. I love that face and the kids in the whirling background.
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Last but not least, I have no idea what this is…but I like it!

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To see other photos of Oops, visit the Weekly Photo Challenge site.

Ghost Walk – Part I

Her pace changed for no one, not a dog or a car, for rain or heat, or for a pile of leaves. Shrouded in dark, flowing fabric, her heavy boots could have slowed her down, yet she skimmed the surface, as if pulled by a string. She walked the circle of our neighborhood to the pulse of an internal metronome. I drove past her on my way to work and again on my way home. It didn’t matter if I were early or late. I saw her so often, I didn’t see her anymore.

And I didn’t see her when I backed out of my driveway. The rain pattered and fogged my windows. I backed up slowly, then Bam. In my rearview mirror, I saw a blur, swirling like a top. At first, I didn’t realize it was her. She had regained her step like she was making up for lost time. I stumbled out of my door, falling on my knee. When I met the sidewalk, she turned down a hill out of my sight. Following at a steady jog, I dropped the hill and she was nowhere. She had vanished.

I reversed course to home. My husband greeted me in our kitchen.

“Karen, what’s the matter? You look beaten up.” Ivan turned away from his Twitter feed.

“I hit her,” I cried. “I didn’t see her. She came out of nowhere. She…”

“Who?” He grabbed my shoulders.

“Her. The walking woman. God, I don’t even know her name,” I peeled off my jacket.

Ivan looked at me blankly. “She’s a strange one.”

“You know her?”

“Well, no. It’s strange what she does. The walking. It’s obviously some kind of therapy,” Ivan grabbed his phone.

“I hope she’s okay.”

“I’m sure she is. She wouldn’t be able to disappear if she were hurt ” he said, stonefaced.

I scowled at him, finding his logic lacking. I imagined the woman in black limping like a wounded rabbit into a bush, not wanting her injury to be discovered.

“And I suppose you wouldn’t look for her anyway.”

He sighed. “You worry too much.”

“No, Ivan. I need to find her. I feel horrible.”

“Why don’t you ask her over for coffee?” he sat on the couch, flipping through channels.

The next time I saw her, I detected no limp. I drove alongside her in my car. She waved me off and told me to get lost. The second time it happened, she shrieked, “Leave me alone, lady.”

She left me feeling freakish, which probably smoothed my transition to stalking her. Being a stalker in your own neighborhood was hazardous to your lifestyle, especially if you were a beginner, like me. My clumsiness was rampant, crunching at leaves and running into hanging branches. The task was further complicated by the hundreds of houses, intersecting streets, and friendly neighbors. So potentially, I could lose her.

“Karen. Look, I’ve got some tomatoes.” It was Sharon, calling from the opposite side of the street, my cover obviously blown.

“Do you know her?” I asked, the tomatoes a forgotten subject.

“Who?” Sharon squinted her eyes into the sunlight. “Dara? Yeah, not the most friendly, but she likes her walking.” She chewed on her toothpick.

To be continued…