Friday, February 15, 2008

Think Snow!

When we first moved to Knoxville, I read some statistic that said that Knoxville gets an average of 11 inches of snow a year. Well, either that stat was from the ice age or the author was smoking crack because it never snows here. Well, not never, but at least not in the three winters we've been here. We did get a light dusting once, but nothing of note. Longtime residents swear that it used to snow more and blame it on global warming. Others say that our position in the valley means that storms go around us and dump everything on the mountains. I don't know the explanation, but I do know that I WANT SNOW!

Growing up in Nashville, when I was in kindergarten or first grade, it snowed for weeks. As soon as one melted,another one hit. We were out of school for days and days. My family lived on a hill surrounded by other hills and my sisters and I had a ball sledding the streets.

My mom still has our Radio Flyer sled. We'd wax the runners to make it as fast as possible and tear down the hills. The best time to go sledding was the evenings. The whole family would bundle up and take to the streets. My mom would bring a thermos of cocoa and we'd meet up with neighbors for a sledding party.

We'd ride that sled in every way possible. We'd fit two, even three of us on it. If the snow and ice was really thick, with the added weight of additional people you could break the speed limit. We'd try out different positions, sitting, lying, kneeling. My favorite was lying face down. You could feel the wind rushing past your face, tearing your hat off. This position also allowed you to drag your feet to slow down if needed or help steer.

During the day, our friends would come over and we'd devise new and dangerous routes. The black diamond route started at the top of our steep driveway, curved left around the triangle in front of our house, turned right down the big hill and then immediately turned left down a side street. What made this route so dangerous were the obstacles in the way. There was a yield sign in the triangle and a stop sign at the immediate left. That stop sign was the killer.

One morning, Andy and I positioned ourselves on our sled at the top of the driveway. I sat in front and he sat behind me with his legs alongside me, steering with his feet. Calvin gave us a huge push and we were off. It was a bumpy ride down the gravel drive, the rough terrain threatening to tip us over. At the bottom of the drive, Andy jerked the sled left and we sort of hopped over the corner of the triangle and sped down the straightaway toward the next turn. We made the right down the hill with no problem. We were going so fast by this time that Andy couldn't control the sled. He pushed left as hard as he could, both of us leaning to help the sled make that last turn by the stop sign. The other kids were all running behind us, cheering us on. We both thought we were home free. Unfortuantely, we didn't make a wide enough turn and we jumped the curb, went airborne and slammed headfirst in to the stop sign. To this day, that sign is still tilted slightly. That ride went down in sledding history. It was one wild ride.

That year spoiled me. For winters afterward, I didn't understand why we never got that much snow again. In high school, desparate for a snow day, my sisters and I would do snow dances. We'd put on all our winter gear, go outside, hop around in a circle, waving our arms and chanting, "Snow, snow, snow, snow. Snow, snow, snow, snow." It worked more than once and soon friends started asking us to perform the dance each time snow was in the forecast.

This morning,the weatherman predicted a chance of snow showers tonight and tomorrow. Later this afternoon, Sweetpea and I are going to don our gear and I am going to teach him the snow dance. After that, I'm getting the sled out of the attic. Bring it on, Mr. Snowmeister.

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