Ice Adventures

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Snowfall on Burke Hollow Road in Williamson County Tennessee December 2008.

My brother, sisters and I looked like the human equivalent of bubble-wrapped packages. Layers of clothing represented Mama’s version of protection from the frozen tundra surrounding our home.

Blanketing snow bleached the scene. Color had fled the land, replaced by the muted browns and grays of leafless timber. Into this frigid ground we traipsed, admiring the crunchy sound of ice beneath our feet and the sparkle of crystal icicles above. Our cheeks bloomed the red of cherry snow cones while our fur-lined gloves felt as if we held kittens. When we talked and laughed, our breath hung like frosted fog sound bites before dissipating in the air as if made from disappearing ink.

Daddy had punched holes in the flat circular tops of metal drums and threaded sturdy ropes through the openings. Perched in the center of one of these makeshift sleds, the passenger sat on folded legs while the steering child pulled the rider down the hill until momentum prompted the rope holder to just … let … gooooooo! Down we’d careen in a crazy maelstrom of slippery ice and crunching snow, sometimes spinning, sometimes sailing through the air before stuttering to a stop, miraculously unscathed.

When we discovered a familiar pond transformed into an ice rink, our utter disregard for safety meant leaping without looking. Not once wondering how thick or thin the frozen surface was, we eagerly slipped and slid on top of the frozen water like giggling hockey pucks. Fortunately, the ice held.

It proved to be a rock-solid surface – as I discovered when I slipped and cracked my head on its unforgiving expanse. In seconds my vision of our silver and white surroundings transformed into brilliant rivulets of crimson. The wound above my left eye bled profusely as I stumbled home through the wooded path. I wasn’t really frightened, though, until I saw the look on the faces of Mama and Daddy. She grabbed a towel while he phoned the doctor before we loaded into the car for the 30-minute drive. I sat between them in the front seat with my swaddled head on Mama’s lap. As the daylight waned into twilight, Daddy sped on the icy roads, glancing down at me periodically with a worried look I wasn’t used to seeing.

By the time we arrived, Dr. Bounds had reopened his closed clinic and was waiting for us. I don’t remember the numbing injections, the stitches, the car ride home or the welcoming committee of my siblings. But I do recall curling up on the sofa in front of the stone hearth fireplace at the end of that long winter day.

My eyes grew heavy as I watched the flames lick and curl in a hypnotic pattern. When Daddy came in from the cold with his arms full of wood, I muttered against the wind stealing warmth from my exposed ankles and wrists and snuggled deeper under the coverlet. Eventually, I left behind the murmurs of my family and the comfort of the crackling fire. Little by little, I gave in to peaceful slumber, content to let the day’s real-life adventures become the stuff of dreams.

3 Comments

  1. Merrie McGrath

    November 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Brings back memories of winters in the south. More ice than snow, but we made use of every crystal. Thanks for bringing that back!!

  2. Charlotte S. Davis

    November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Nancy, once again you have beautifully captured precious childhood memories. I love reading your stories.

  3. Lesa Sakwa

    November 30, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I enjoy your writing style… it’s like rocking in a rocking chair. You rock me right into a story…whether with humor or sentiment … and sometimes a little bit of both.

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