The recent weather has been unusual. The snow, sleet rain, snow and refreeze has left the ground a solid block of ice. I'm 215 lbs and I can stand on the snow drift in my front yard, jump up and down, and not make a dent. While all of this has been terrible for shoveling and driving, it has made for some amazing sledding.
Across the street from my house is a big hill overlooking Meadows Edge's eponymous meadow. The land has been recently sold, but so popular is the sledding site that the agreement of sale was contingent on the new owners allowing local kids to continue sledding there. With the frozen conditions and with the face of the hill facing into the prevailing westerly wind, the sledding hill has become, at the least a luge run and more likely one of those thinks that the ski jumpers go down.
Anyway we went over there and had a fantastic time. Mrs. Flick always gives me the requisite warning, " be careful that the kids don't go near the pond", and I gave her the requisite rolling of the eyes. The pond is a good 500 yards from the top of the hill and probably 100-150 yards from the bottom. Kids sledding with boggie boards coated with Crisco baking grease down get within 50 of the pond, so my kids on their $8 plastic sled have nothing to worry about.....or so I thought.
When we first got there two teenage kids were getting ready for a run. One was on one of those hard shelled saucers and the other was digging in to push him like a bobsledder. Off they went. The kid PUSHING slid to the bottom of the hill on his belly. The kid on the saucer became a dot on the horizon. He went to the bottom...across the meadow....and not only to the pond, but PAST the pond and into the next farm field. He went at least a half mile !!!! At least !!!
I turned everyone around and went home for helmets.
Anyway, we went back to the hill and had a great time of it.
After a while the kids started getting tired and cold and we decided that they'd have a final run. I put them all into one sled and sent them down like a giant human cannonball.
I should mention at this point that one of the drawbacks to the situation was that as fun as it was to go down the hill, it was equally as difficult to get back up the hill. Many times the kids would make it half way up only to lose their footing and go sliding all the way back down or they'd lose grip on the sled and it would fly off into the distance. The only hope of getting up the slope was to act like a mountain climber...some kids had hacked holes into the ice at intervals and you could use the crags in the ice like a rock climber and make your way up.
After this final run my kids were trying to make their way up to me and not having any luck. At least one of them was falling down half way up and usually taking the rest down with them. It was turning into human bowling.
Finally I yelled down to them to go over to the big tree next to the road and that I'd come down to them and we could take the road back home. I picked up the camera, their two sleds, and whatever discarded helmets, hats and gloves were around and started to walk down/across the face of the hill to meet them. This turned out to be treacherous. After nearly falling off a few times I figured " screw it" and that the most reasonable thing to would be just to sled down to where they were. I dropped one of the sleds and plopped down in it. I put my feet down to control my speed, I only had to go about half-way down...and off I went.
Well HOLY POOP !...I immediately started going about 100 times faster than I thought I was going to go. I tried to dig my heels in...NOTHING ! I was actually starting to pick up speed. Panicked I reached out ahead with my free hand and tried to dig in into the solid ice face...nothing ! Then it happened....
My left hand which was at the end of my fully extended left arm went into one of the footholds that the kids dug into the ice. The full weight and momentum of my body went smashing into the last three fingers on my left hand. All I could see was a white flash as severe pain screamed up my left side. I believe I broke the ring finger and cannot get my wedding ring on it at all. The other two fingers are swollen and I can't bend them the whole way to make a fist.
The other effect of the impact on my hand was to change my trajectory. Instead of heading down the hill, I was kicked at a 45 degree angle...right at the kids. I was about to slam into my entire brood of children and we were all going to be spending the rest of the evening in the emergency room.
I've mentioned before that 'The Boy' might be the slowest kid I've ever seen. His feet are gigantic and he runs like he's wearing flippers. The kid might have some talents, but he isn't going to win any footraces. The Boy looked up to see me coming down the hill....I had my left arm straight out and an obtuse angle, my right arm was held high above me wielding a sled, a camera, and two helmets , and I was screaming a death wail while writhing and wriggling like an epileptic on fire...his eyes got big as saucers and The Boy made a run for the road with a burst of speed that was as impressive as it was unexpected.
I had just the briefest of moments to notice his burst of speed, before I took notice of the tree that he had been standing in front of. The tree that I was definitely going to hit. I rolled over and bailed out of the sled. That did nothing. I splayed myself out and readied for the impact. The sled hit the tree first and by the grace of God that helped made the difference. I hit the sled, which buckled under my weight, but helped absorb some of the impact. Also, instead of breaking a limb, I hit the trunk of the tree with my midsection. Luckily I didn't break a rib, but I did knock all the wind out of me with a mighty " URRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH".
I laid there for a few minutes with all the kids gathered around me saying stuff like, " I think your Dad is dead" and " That was totally cool, do it again, do it again.". After a little while I got myself together, set about gathering up all my things which were scattered around the hillside like wreckage from a plane crash, and took the kids home for some hot cocoa.
We're going back a little later today if anyone is interested in joining us.