The Long Run



When I was growing up and school closed on snowy days, I joined the sled- and toboggan-toting kids who converged on Suicide Hill.

It offered a near-perfect snowy perch. At the crest no one needed a push; the precipitous drop guaranteed speed. And while the climb back up was heart-thumping steep, it was over before you knew it.

Suicide Hill earned its name from the brick wall planted at the base. The hill ended abruptly at the back of the high school and once the sled trails were worn and slick, it took skill and sense to rocket down and bail before impact (especially when piloting a rudderless inner-tube, snow spraying your face). The collisions with brick and mortar came with teeth-rattling force.

Our kids are a bit young to be concussed on Suicide Hill. Besides, that suburban haunt is far from the farm. Instead, on Sunday we accepted an invite to a friends’ house, where we claimed the hilly front pasture.

This run was moderately steep but warmed in the sun, the snow was soft and slow. It took some time to carve out a sledding path and even then, we launched the kids with a push.

Still, this hill offered a glint of danger: at the bottom, a burbling creek sliced through the field. And with each turn, the kids skidded closer to the water’s edge.

On one run, Martin positioned Cayden flat on his back and gave him a mighty shove. The Boy bulleted down the hill with such speed, I missed the photo op, even with the camera poised to shoot.  He wound up a few feet shy of the creek.

After that, we played ball. Martin stood on the mound, pitching a kid off the crest of the hill, while I positioned myself at the bottom. Crouched down, hands on my knees, I waited to snag a speeding preschooler.

Admittedly, I delayed my interceptions until the last minute….  just to see if they possessed the velocity to careen over the edge. On the last run I waited a beat too long and carefully extracted Hadley from the pricker bushes.

But each time the kids demanded, “go faster!” They were hooked on the risk.

That same thrill as Suicide Hill.

With a push, Hadley starts her run

She was doing so well.
Until she hooked an edge…

The kids hiked back up the hill by themselves. Except when they didn’t. 

Just a few more feet….

And where was the baby, you ask? Well, options were limited. 
We couldn’t push Brynn in a stroller. 
And all the sledding gear was in use.
She didn’t like sitting up with the sun in her eyes.
Eventually we found a solution, guaranteed to shield her from the snowy glare: