When our family of four moved to Coronado from Rhode Island in the spring of ‘67, we entered a world without winter. I dearly miss the seasons of New England, especially the snow, for maybe a week, that is, because I was too young to have to drive in it. Silly rabbit, snow is for kids!
Therefore, submitted for your approval (a little Rod Serling lingo), I offer a nostalgic, childhood memory of a cold winter’s day in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, circa 1966. I was nine.
The morning after a snowstorm, all the bundling-up Mom had us do before venturing out into the elements seemed to take forever, because my younger brother Michael and I couldn’t wait to see how much snow had fallen overnight. the more the merrier, maybe even enough for schools to declare a snow day!
All the better! So, sports fans, what sort of day might it be? Would the sun be out in full force, shining blindingly brightly? Would it be a gray day, or darker? I liked quiet, still, grayish mornings best, when it was flurrying just enough for a few big flakes to be floating around in midair, suspended on the breeze as if gravity were no longer in force.
It was cool, way cool, to be up and at ‘em early enough to beat the snowplows to the neighborhood’s freshly-fallen, foot-deep carpet of fun, when all the roads and all the front yards were still uniformly covered, when the as yet unplowed thoroughfares and unshoveled walkways were out of sight and out of mind, when from our own front doorstep to all the other front doorsteps flowed one continuous community landscape of white, blanketing everything in sight. The obligatory tire tracks and dirty, slushy trampings could wait! Instead, we’d discover networks of fresh animal tracks where deer, birds, dogs, cats, rabbits and other fauna du jour had made their mark.
After stepping outside onto our elevated stoop, we’d gingerly feel for the topmost step with the heels of our heavy boots, carefully crackling down through the frozen crust, gauging the depth. After safely negotiating the bottom step, my brother and I would march through the neighborhood, crackling up, then crackling down with each succeeding footfall, our trusty wooden toboggan in tow, sliding to and fro behind us as we tromped along, making our merry way toward the long, steep hill above the
frozen-over swamp nearby. When we were at long last perched atop the precipice of the hill, we steadied the toboggan, steeled our nerves, and hopped aboard. The antici---pation of the exhilaration at hand was palpable!
After edging forward and pushing off, we were committed. All bets were off as we found ourselves flying headlong down the slick slope, trying like the dickens to keep the toboggan from turning sideways on the slippery veneer of ice-encrusted snow, presently speeding toward the frozen swamp at the bottom of our careening run.
We couldn’t slow down and we couldn’t steer. What a disaster!
Before reaching the base of the hill, we’d bail out just in the nick of time, each of us sliding to a stop on the seats of our slick snowsuits. The now-unmanned toboggan flew on without us, hit bottom, bottomed out, and launched itself into the great frozen beyond. From our respective, now-static vantage points, Mike and I watched in shock and awe as our temporarily-abandoned toboggan sailed off into space, silently described its graceful arc, and abruptly returned to Earth with a violent, cartwheeling crash.
The Eagle has landed!
After retrieving the generally undamaged wreckage, we’d drag it back up to the top of the hill for another launch, and another disaster. Perfect! We were single-minded, adrenaline-crazed, out-of-control yoots with a primal need for speed. Sweet? Right-ee-o!