Good heavens, the sledding hill is gone.
For the last few years, whenever the weather and mood have lined up, we have bundled up the girls into their foul weather gear, packed the car with the oddly dual-purpose inflatable toboggan/rafts that we have, and headed over to the sledding hill by the hospital. It was a great hill! It was steep enough to get up a decent speed, especially on those rafts. It was short enough not to get up too much speed. It was right next to the Emergency Room in case you somehow managed to get up too much speed anyway. It had a wide flat area at the bottom to coast gently to a halt in before there was any real danger of running into the road. And it was close to home, so we could be drinking cocoa within minutes of deciding that we were too cold to continue. It was perfect.
And now they went and put a building on it.
Okay, so it is the hospital's land and they can do what they want with it. And maybe helping the sick is just a teensy bit more important than sledding. Maybe. But still - it was the most perfect sledding hill in town, and now it has been Destroyed By Progress.
Just as a side note, this is not the first time that someone has erected an entire building around here without my noticing. One summer I was exiting the highway, coming into town, and there was an entire mall that wasn't there before. "Great Googly Moogly!" I thought. "There's whole new places to spend money that I didn't know existed!" I think they do this in the dead of night, and cover it up with SEP fields* during the day until they're ready to spring it on us. It's the only explanation that makes sense.
When I was a lad, we used to take our old-fashioned wooden-top, steel-runner sleds down to what we optimistically labeled "Suicide Hill," a steep, bumpy hill that featured two concrete shuffleboard courts at the bottom that made an excellent jump, followed by about 20 feet of real estate to stop before running into the creek that bordered said real estate on two of its three sides. The third had trees. It was a cold 3/4-mile trek back home if we ended up dunked, as we did surprisingly often. But it was worth it.
Suicide Hill is still there, though it is overgrown now and hardly fit for sledding. The shuffleboard courts are still there, however, and with a bit of yard work the whole thing could be running again. But not here. Unless we plan on sledding through the lobby of the new hospital building (an intriguing, though probably sub-optimal idea), we will just have to find a new place.
* Douglas Adams invented the idea of the SEP field in his Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Basically, SEP stands for "Someone Else's Problem." When you cover something with an SEP field, people can stare directly at it without seeing it, because it's someone else's problem. I think this technology exists and is in widespread use today. It would certainly explain a lot of things.