Friday, January 30, 2009

Bouncing Daisies

The Daisies went sledding yesterday, out by the river.

It was a cold and blustery day, as the days have been this winter. There has been no January thaw in our part of Wisconsin. We haven't seen the up side of freezing since Christmas, when it rained for two days before it all froze again. The winds were blowing the trees sideways, the mercury was visibly falling toward the single digits in the thermometers, and the ground was covered with a layer of snow so thick and impermeable that it might just last until the Fourth of July. So naturally under those conditions the Wisconsinite thinks: Let's play outside! With small children!

It's a Darwinian place, Wisconsin.

Kim was teaching during the appointed sledding hour, which meant that a) I was on my own for this one, and b) Tabitha was coming along as well, which was just fine by her. We piled into the Vibe, stuffed it full of our sleds, and headed off in search of the hill.

This, it turned out, was something of a trick.

You would not think it difficult to locate a hill, especially one big enough to be used for sledding, but then you would be wrong. We circled through the park a couple of times before finally settling on an appropriate candidate through my clever interrogation techniques.

"Hey Lauren," I called. "Do you recognize any of those people on that hill?"

"No, dad, those are BOYS."

"How about those people?"

"Which people?"

"Those ones, over there."


"Yes, there. Do they look like Daisies?"


And there we were. Simple.

So we got out, gathered up our stuff, and trudged off to the hill, along with a herd of children and parents that had come to the same conclusion at roughly the same time as we did. We crossed the ditch, skirted the surprisingly large number of trees, and started up the hill.

It was another one of those Mel Allen "Ooooh! That's gotta hurt!" hills, one that was nearly vertical at the top before flattening out slightly about a quarter of the way down. Though flattening out is somewhat misleading, as there were all sorts of gullies and moguls, and if you went down more to the right there was, at the bottom, a ski-jump that some previous sledder had painstakingly constructed. Hitting it was a feat of random aim, but that didn't stop people from trying.

The girls had a wonderful time, racing up and down. Tabitha scooted and zipped. Lauren enjoyed herself for a while before doing a faceplant at the bottom and coming up looking like the wrong end of a lightweight sparring match. I suppose it says something about The Times We Live In that we actually wondered if someone would call Child Protective Services today at school, when she showed up looking like that. Then again, it says something about living in Wisconsin that "rocketing down a vertical hill in the sub-Arctic cold" would have been a perfectly acceptable response to any inquiry. Regardless, after the faceplant Lauren tended to go down on her snowpants rather than the sleds. "I want to go fast, but I want to be safe," she said when I asked her what she was trying to do. "Pick one," I told her.

We were only there for about half an hour before the cold and wind got too much, especially at the top of the hill. We headed home, and gathered round the kettle for some cocoa, and life was good.

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