Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Suicide Hill made for snow much fun

There is a terrific tobogganing hill a couple hundred metres from where I live.
There are several grades from a leisurely slide down the hill to a rocket-like decent for the brave and foolhardy.
The best part is, the run off area is a football field.
My children spent many an hour sliding down and climbing up that hill as did numerous other kids from around the neighbourhood.
There were even a few of us older kids out there once in a while, reliving our youth by taking a blast of frozen ice particles to the face.
I never had an actual toboggan when I was a young lad, but I have ridden on one a few and the snow just pours over the top of the wooden contraption and hits you in the face, tearing off the first layer of skin and rendering you temporarily blind.
Of course, the more the hill is used the less powder there is. Eventually, the snow packs down and the slope ices up until it is basically a downhill skating rink, allowing participants to break the sound barrier before they reach the bottom of the hill.
As a young lad, we would all gather at 'Suicide Hill' to do our sledding.
What else would a group of youngsters name a tobogganing hill? Gentle Slope of Fun? Slide of Silliness?
No, it had to be something dangerous, something that evoked the death-defying acts we were performing.
Actually, it was not the safest sledding hill in the country. There were two runs: a short fast one, and a long slower one.
The short fast one went down a fairly steep slope into a run off area. Doesn't sound too bad except for the barbed wire fence at the end of the run. If you had too much speed, you actually had to jump off your mount to slow down or you would hit the fence – as had been done by many people on many occasions.
The other run was much slower and if you did it right you would slide across a driveway, through a cross road and down another road that was even longer than the actual hill you started out on. The full length of this run could only done when there was a fresh, unplowed snowfall blanketing the blacktop because sliding on bare asphalt is a bad idea any time of the year.
Aside from the risk of being run over, it was a lot of fun. Kids rarely factor danger into their activities, so we hardly ever thought about being clobbered by a car.
Our focus was on racing down the mountain and seeing who could slide the farthest, the fastest.
No one was ever seriously hurt, but one intrepid slider did crash into the side of a car, much the displeasure of the car owner who was more worried about a dent in his automobile than the head of the child that caused the dent.
That hill is now a housing development, so never again will a child have to dodge a Dodge or find a way to stop before sailing through a barbed wire fence.
And perhaps that is a good thing.

Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh

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