Winter months bring back fond memories of sledding

Call it sled riding, sledding or – heck – even tobogganing. Now that the snow is flying, I just want to sit my tuchus on a plastic saucer and rocket myself down a hill.
There’s nothing like a snowstorm to bring out your inner child. While growing up, the kids in our neighborhood had three levels of sledding hills to choose from.
The first one, within the neighborhood playground, equaled the ol’ “bunny hill” at a ski resort – it’s fun when you’re in kindergarten, but once you’re a big, bad first grader, you need a bit more of a challenge.

Abby Badach, editor-in-chief

The second hill – a bit larger to tackle – rose up from a field adjacent to a community boat launch on Lake Erie and had this impeccable slope perfect for building adjoining ramps.
But the granddaddy of all sledding hills, the name that would strike terror into our little elementary school hearts, the hill that could even make the junior high kids quiver in their Chuck Taylors – was Dead Man’s Hill.
I’d bet money that everyone’s neighborhood had a Dead Man’s Hill, or some ominously branded equivalent.
I’d bet more money that, most likely, nobody ever died while sledding on them.
Dead Man’s Hill – the textbook example of what is formally known as “a doozy” – upsurged from the local golf course grounds, a towering fright that cast fear into the hearts of every neighborhood kid. Our Dead Man’s Hill differed from the Dead Man’s Hills of other towns because of the creek in close proximity to its base – if you took off just fast enough, you could extend your sledding journey by another 20 feet by skidding across the frozen ice.
Of course, at the ripe old age of 22, I now realize why this hill gave all the neighborhood mothers heart attacks. (I swear, mom – I never made it to the creek.)
I have such fond memories of sled riding, many trips which ended in coming back to my house with sopping wet snowsuits and foggy eyeglasses. And then there was the time when my dad fell and broke a rib while trying to snowboard on one of those super-long, hunter’s orange sleds.
In retrospect, that could’ve been the last time I recall hitting the sledding hills.
The best sled-riding sessions involved utter abandon – the total fearlessness of plunging down an icy slope, winter wind rushing in your face, breathing in the distinct scent of wet scarf.
These days, all I seem to do is complain about winter. Of course, when I was 7, I didn’t have to drive in whiteout conditions – but just because I face that challenge now doesn’t mean I can’t reconnect with some sense of that joy.
Fellow college students, the time has come to drop our hatred of winter and return to our neon-colored plastic discs once again. We’ve got another good two months – wait, this is Erie, make that three months – of sledding weather to embrace.
The best part? It’s a helluva lot cheaper than skiing.

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