Saturday, March 21, 2015

Time Traveler--Midnight Sledding Parties

If you've been following my Time Traveler posts about growing up in north Idaho in the 70s with no power or water, you know they're really just me telling some stories from my childhood, which usually wasn't normal at all.  They're mostly for my kids, but since not many people had a childhood like this, you're welcome to come along.

Stay with the class, though, OK?

One thing I remember very fondly is midnight sledding parties.  Where I grew up, we all lived in the hills, usually down long, steep driveways that were inaccessible in winter except on foot or by sled, so we took advantage of the snow and the hills and the large community of other hippie-ish folk in our area, and we'd all get together at one or another's property and go sledding at night or to celebrate New Year's Eve.  I have random memories of these nights.
Us with Mom around Christmas one year, c. 1978-9

It was magic.  A lot of stuff I did growing up wasn't "normal", but those nights were pure, unadulterated, brittle-cold, sparkling magic.  Like frozen crystals in time--I have memories of the sound of laughter with friends on clear dark winter nights.

Breath showing like puffs of smoke.  No noise but our voices in the air.

No electric lights, no car headlights, no flashlights.  Just moonlight glinting on the snow, casting the blackest shadows in a silent forest that stretched for miles around us in every direction.  Glittering frozen air, tiny sparkles floating.

The sound of our snow suits going zhip-zhip-zhip as we dragged our runner sleds and toboggans up the hill for another long run down, to land with an "umph" at the bottom.

Struggling with that crazy Flying Carpet blue plastic toboggan that we always got for Christmas.  It came rolled in a tight tube, and never wanted to assume any other shape but a tube.
Image result for flying carpet sled
'member these??

Trying to get up the nerve to take the hill on a saucer sled--that death-defying, sometimes-backwards, sometimes-forward, out-of-control daredevil ride.  Only the serious sledders did that.

Flopping down backwards, full-force with a whoosh, into a snow bank with a friend, to gaze up smiling into an inky sky filled with a million tiny hard-edged stars that seemed to go on forever.  Catching snowflakes on our tongues.

Wondering out loud those age-old childhood questions:

Do you think there's anyone else out there?  

Naaahhh.  Well, maybe somewhere...

If I was Han Solo, I'd take Chewbacca and go visit that bright star, right....there.  I bet there could be someone there.  See it?  



Wanna go again? 

In a minute.

Whoever's house we were at, there would be hot chocolate when we were done and a fire to warm our hands.  It usually wasn't long before we'd get that dreaded frozen crack of doom between the end of our coat sleeves and the cuff of our mittens.  No matter how careful we were at getting dressed, we always  had that frozen red gap of wrist showing, and the snow always got in there.  If you layered your socks, long-johns, pants, boots, and snowpants right, you could avoid the snow getting to your ankles, but I never did get the mitten/shirt/coat thing mastered.

So we'd warm up and go some more.  Say good-night to everyone, wish them Happy New Year, and head back to our various homes, warm from the cocoa and the joy of friendship and shared life.

I don't have any pictures, mainly because probably no one was taking any (because hello--it was NIGHT), but I *did* find this lovely picture that for some reason someone took, of our sledding hill on the property we bought next to ours, called The Meadow.
Imagine this with snow, by moonlight, and full of people...

Good times, you guys.  Good times.


  1. While we never did sledding at night, it's something that I do miss from my childhood. We now live at the beach and it's not the same for my kiddos. We took our oldest boy sledding in December 2013, he was almost 3 and he thought it was amazing! My grandparents have a farm and the field behind the house has a nice steep slope for sledding. The thing I think we all forget as we get older is how hard it really is to walk back up the hill in the snow after the very brief ride down. Luckily for him he was pulled back up in the sled each time.

    1. I also remember the first pass down the hill, scootching along trying to break the snow down to make a lane. And sitting doubled up on a runner sled, trying to steer that thing with your feet!

      And that trudge back UP, oh my gosh yes.