Put a Lid on It: Snow Day Memories Recall Racing on Makeshift Sleds

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lid sledding

The nip in the room caused us to pull the quilts all the way up to our eyes. Normally, my little sister and I would bounce out of bed like red-nosed clowns spilling from a too-small car. We would dash to the kitchen, eager to earn elbow space from our older brother and sister at the crowded breakfast nook. But on this day, snuggled in the comfortable bed, our warm cocoon seemed too wonderful to leave. When we finally threw back the covers, we shivered as our bare feet touched the unforgiving cold tile floor. Both of us rushed to dress, hopping from one foot to the other to keep warm.

All dancing stopped, though, when we spied the solid white blanket covering the ground outside of our home. Snow – the first of the season – beckoned through the window. Great billowing drifts of the magical stuff had appeared overnight. What had seemed destined to be another ho-hum day of winter suddenly crystalized into a day of wintry adventure.

See more: 5 Citrus Recipes to Brighten Up Winter

Beth and Dennis were already halfway through their toast and eggs when Merrie and I ran into the kitchen. My siblings and I scarfed down our breakfast, knowing we had precious little time before the yellow school bus would arrive. Those of us of school age would have to sit through torturous hours at our desks, gazing longingly at the great outdoors just beyond reach.

Daddy came in from outside, stomping his shoes on the mat, and unwrapping himself from his jacket and hat. “Just heard on the radio. Roads are closed today from ice,” he said. We four children stopped our usual squirming and sat stone-still, all ears. Daddy grinned, then added the cherished words we were bursting to hear: “No school today.”

We cheered a great whoop, practically levitating from our seats. Breakfast forgotten, we scattered in search of snow garb. Mama wouldn’t let us set foot outside without the heavy layering she deemed essential. One by one, she assisted in wrapping each of us in long underwear, sweaters, scarves, gloves, hats (with earflaps) and coats. When she finished bundling us into unrecognizable forms of rotundity, we looked more like the Pillsbury Doughboy than children. Despite barely being able to move, we waddled outside where Daddy waited for us at the top of the hill.

See more: More Than Snowmen

Other children might own Flexible Flyers, those nifty wooden snow sleds with steel runners that practically glide over terrain. The Flexible Flyer in the Sears catalog even offered two ways of control – a wooden bar for steering and a rope as a braking mechanism. In contrast, the device my siblings and I rode came from the imagination of my frugal dad. Daddy commandeered a round lid from a barrel in the storage shed, pierced a hole in it and threaded a thick cord through the opening. That battered lid, about 2 ½ feet in circumference with a raised lip around its edge, was to be our magic carpet ride on the snow-encrusted hill in the yard.

One at a time, we perched on this makeshift sled while Daddy pulled the cord and took a running start down the hill to jump-start our descent. After a few yards, he’d let go and spring out of the way as we barreled past on the slick surface, laughing with joy if we managed to become airborne.

It occurred to me later Mama had two reasons for her thorough packaging of us four children into overstuffed roly-polys. First, the multiple layers protected us from exposure to the harsh wind and biting cold. Second, the Pillsbury Doughboy treatment served as protective padding against inevitable crash landings, a kind of portable airbag system. It worked. Thanks to Mama, neither my siblings nor I ever suffered a single scratch during these careening wild rides of glory with Daddy in the lead.

About the Author: Besides lid sledding, Nancy Dorman-Hickson grew up roaming woods, riding horses and fishing muddy ponds. Now she’s a wife, mom of adult twins and freelance writer. For more, see nancydormanhickson.com.

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