posts tagged with 'sledding'

April snow brings wet fun

On Friday morning when Harvey announced it was snowing Mama denied it without even looking. Yes it was chilly and rainy, but snow in mid April? Well, sure! It's happened before. And over the next half hour the big flakes mixing with the drizzle got more frequent until they took over completely and the snow started piling up. By lunchtime there was a couple inches on the ground—enough that we altered our plans to hike with our friends and went sledding instead.

the kids sledding in the misty drizzle

spring in New England!

Not that it was easy! Boots, mittens, and mufflers had all been misplaced since the last cold weather. And the sleds were way down in the back of the basement. But we made it happen, and were only ten minutes late (no worries; our friends had the same problem with their own gear). By the time we hit the slope the snow had changed back into drizzle, but that didn't mean it was warm. Quite the reverse, at least for the grown-up type people shivering at the top of the hill! For the kids the main issue was that the wet wet snow wasn't particularly fast, but it got better as they packed it down. And it was prime for making snowballs!

the kids rolling a big snowball

the first of many

It was lovely to be there at one of our favorite sledding spots—where we hadn't gone all winter because of our friends' careful quarantining. That said, we didn't actually manage to stay very long. After a little over an hour everyone was sopping wet and ready to go home, making it easily the shortest play time we've ever had with those friends. But it was lots of fun while it lasted! And now that it's sunny and springlike again we can look forward to running around barefoot with them later this week. Ah, the joy of an April snowstorm!

a daffodil smashed down by the snow

snow showers, snow flowers

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filling in the memory hole

Yesterday afternoon Zion and I went sledding (again). We didn't get out to the hill until after 4:00, it with the cold the snow was in great shape, so we were still going strong as the sun dropped below the trees. It wasn't only the good conditions that made me want to stay out as long as we could, though; the weather forecast gave me a feeling that it could maybe be our last sledding of the year. So, thinking as I often do of how to tell the story, I went to take a picture of Zion walking up the hill towards the setting sun. But my phone, at that moment, ran out of batteries.

The main reason I write in this blog, as I've probably said before, is so I can remember what happened in this adventure that is our life. So, just like when I miss a photo, when I go for a while without writing I feel some loss. Like the last two weeks, when a combination of factors left me unable to write and post coherent thoughts. But never fear! Yesterday we were out with friends who took a photo just like I was thinking of and, unasked, texted it to me! And even though I haven't been posting I've actually been writing down at least the outlines of some things I want to say, which I'll retroactively publish when I get a chance. Thus the historical record will be preserved! (And then I suppose this post will just be confusing, but never mind; count it as the memory of a particular moment, right?)

backwoods sledding

As I mentioned, the boys and I ventured out yesterday afternoon for some backwoods sledding. We love sledding, but even after 16 years in Bedford I never located a favorite local sledding spot. The two places we know in Lexington are so good, to say nothing of our friends' hill in Chelmsford. But there's definitely something to be said about being able to hit the slopes without 40 minutes of driving, round trip. What if we were to exchange that driving for a little bit of walking in the woods?

That was my thought early this winter, when the first snowfall made me see a hill by the airport in a different light. Unlike most of Bedford's hills, which are forested, this one is kept clear by the airport folks because it's just in line with the runway. It's not super long, but it does have one steep drop and when I saw it with snow on it I figured right away that it would be worth a try. Of course, right after that the snow melted and we didn't get any more for all of January. But it's back now!

the view from the top of the sledding hill down towards the airport

at the top of the hill

Just like the day before, we were faced with deep snow on unbroken trail. Even worse for morale, someone else had started in from where we parked and then given up after 25 yards and turned back. But we're made of sterner stuff, and even with the deep snow even Elijah marched on strongly into the woods.

on the trail pulling sleds through the woods

mushing

It was maybe longer than we remembered getting up to the hill—last time having been under somewhat easier conditions—but moving as slow as we were let us notice opportunities along the way for some warm-up runs. It's not often we get to try glade sledding!

Harvey and Zion toboganning down a path in the woods

they could sell tickets for this!

Despite the beautiful spot the snow was actually pretty disappointing, being both deep and sticky, and there was a little grumbling and unhappiness among the party. But we pushed on, and eventually came to the open space atop the hill, where we traversed across like explorers crossing High Greenland. And when we reached the steep part I'd been looking forward to trying since December our long journey felt well worth it! After just a couple runs we had a smooth trail laid down, and could take our fill of thrilling, if short, plunges down the steep side of the hill. And it was fine that they were short, because otherwise getting back up the hill would have been too much work!

Zion and Lijah walking across a snowy field

to the main event

Besides the sledding, there were also snowcovered rocks to climb up and jump off of, and planes to watch, and we spent a happy hour enjoying all those things. Then suddenly we were done—wet, and cold, and tired—and we were glad it was mostly downhill on the way home. That made pulling Elijah on the sled almost easy! We're looking forward to going back for more soon, and especially to knowing that next time will be even better: I expect never to see snow this sticky ever again.

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sledstravaganza!

I wasn't sure how we were going to spend our Martin Luther King Day yesterday. I didn't have work, so I got to spend the rare Monday with the boys; but there was also no school, so I expected that they'd probably be playing with school-going friends. So we left our schedule wide open. As it turns out, all the school-goers made sure that they had every minute programmed so after a peaceful morning of games and historical study, we were all ready when homeschooled friends invited us to join them for some sledding.

kids sledding

whee!

There's not a ton of snow but it was plenty to give us a few good runs down the hill. That might have been it, but then someone had the idea to run a race. So we stomped out a finish line, then a start line past which nobody was allowed to push, then the race was on! I forget who won that first one, but it didn't matter because it was followed by another, then another, then another... A sixty-second timer to get back to the start line kept everyone moving briskly up the hill as well as down. And there were enough races that each of the five kids and two dads had a chance to take a win or two (of course, I took lots more than two). As seen above, Lijah was a full participant—at least, until he face-planted with a 13-year-old on top of him. Then he went inside. But we persisted! After the races ended we tried some group challenges, and were very proud to get all five of the remaining sledders first on one snow-tube and then on the toboggan.

sledders at the top of the hill with the low sun behind them

still at it

Then when we finally called it a day there was hot chocolate with whipped cream waiting inside. Pretty good day!

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perfect winter's day

Lijah bundled up on a cold sunny day

on the slopes

Martin Luther King Day is very important in our household, and it did not go unobserved. But when it comes to recounting the most exciting part of our days it's hard to argue with the outside adventure. Today was the most beautiful of winter days possible, and we took full advantage of it. Our friends recently bought a house with a golf course conveniently located across the street, so this morning we invited ourselves over there to do some sledding with them. It was lovely.

the bigger kids sledding down a hill in a bunch

they all survived

We've never experienced golf course sledding before, but I can't deny the appeal: there's not just one hill to go down, you have your choice of dozens! It helped that with the icy snow you didn't really need to break a trail to have a good run. The best part was sliding across the water hazard at the bottom of one hill, as pictured above. The second best part was when we all got tired we were able to walk right across the street to a warm house and be treated to hot chocolate and a lovely lunch!

I know Harvey and Zion are wonderful sledders and fully enjoy being outdoors, but I was delightfully surprised by how well Lijah did. It was cold—probably not a whole lot above 10°F when we started—but he didn't mind it at all. He was excited for the first run down the hill, and then he managed to recover after a pretty good wipeout on the second run (he yelled alot, then when he calmed down he declared he wasn't going to use the blue sled again). He was having such a grand time that on the way home I had no qualms at all about stopping, at the boys' request, to play on the frozen Concord River.

on the Concord River, frozen from bank to bank

ice road

The town very kindly plowed the dirt road to the boat launch, so we were able to spend a pleasant half-hour sliding on the ice on the river and in the woods (the river having been very high when it froze). Once again, I'm sure we'll all sleep well tonight!

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sledding

Before we said goodbye to Nisia and before all the snow melted (both today) we went sledding.

Zion and Nisia going down the hill in snowtubes

it doesn't look like much, but it was fast

The light and fluffy snow of Saturday evening was much-stomped by Sunday sledders, so when he saw the hill Harvey was so discouraged he was about ready to head home. But I knew that some grass and leaves sticking up wouldn't slow us down any, because packed, sun-melted snow at 15 American degrees is about the fastest surface you could hope for. And so it proved.

Lijah stayed home with Grandma (and Cindy—thanks for the entertainment!) so I was able to concentrate on encouraging the bigger kids. And they all did great! Zion and Nisia stuck to the snow tubes (and the plastic toboggan with me), and took dozens of delighted runs down the big hill. They complained some about the walk up, but kept at it nevertheless. Harvey was fearless on both the plastic toboggan and the real one, which he got back on even after a ferocious crash into the stone wall at the bottom of the hill that left him with a scrape on his chin and a couple of sore teeth. If only we had been out after lunch instead of before it, we might have been there three hours instead of just one and a half.

Of course, I did some sledding too, and made it through the gap in the stone wall into the lower portion of the field by myself on the toboggan and with Zion on the plastic sled. I was pretty impressed with myself... I've still got it! Even Nelly took one run down, on a snowtube—she has video evidence if you don't believe it.

Nisia won't be back again til summer, but we hope the snow puts in another appearance—we had such a good time we'd hate for that to be our only sledding of the season!

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some sledding

Before the snow all melted, we got in a few sledding outings. The only problem with sledding is that it presents numerous difficulties to the photographer—the light's often bad, the subjects are moving quickly... and the photographer wants to be rolling in the snow, not standing around with the stupid camera! Of course, sometimes the cutest sledders stand still for a bit.

Lijah standing happily with the sleds

enjoying the outing

Other times, we just have to do our best. The boys have managed three major sledding days in the last two weeks of this crazy winter: one on the fabulous hills by Taya's house.

Zion headed away from the camera on the hill by Taya's house

with helpers at the bottom to stop him hitting the trees

Another with my parents at the hill of my youth.

Harvey and Zion sledding in the snow

together in all kinds of weather

And one more with me this Monday, before the temperature shot up 60°F (ok, only 35° from when we were actually outside sledding, but still) and the snow disappeared in short order.

Harvey coming down the hill

short and steep

The other disappointing thing about sledding pictures is how they never manage to show the slope of the hill properly. That last one is pretty steep.

Harvey and Zion appearing over the edge of the hill

coming back up the cliff

Just a few short years ago a bad day of sledding had me promising never to take the boys out again until Zion was seven. Obviously that was an idle threat, but it was also a misguided one, because they're now champions on the slopes (having the right gear helps.. thanks grandmas!). Even Lijah enjoys his few trips down the hill, and is happy to hang out with the big boys as long as they're having fun. Even when he gets sleepy... if you look carefully at the photo of Harvey up above you'll see the little one in the background about to tip over. Here's a close-up:

Lijah sitting on the toboggan, about to fall asleep and fall over

sledding is hard work

He was pretty much asleep with his eyes open at that point; when sat down with him and put him on my lap he cuddled right up and went to sleep. Then I put him in the car seat and enjoyed another 45 minutes of sledding with the big boys. We need to get it while we can!

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