My shoe has a hole in it. Not a very big hole, mind you, but a hole none the less. I discovered the hole on my commute to work this morning. There’s a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, just a skiff. When I was walking, a little ball of snow had gathered in the hole and compressed into a solid chunk. The part touching my foot started to melt, and the water has frozen on the bottom. It feels like I have a cold, wet, rock in my shoe. So I hobbled the rest of the way to work, and there was only one thing crossing my mind; Mr. Charlton is sick of winter.
There was a time when winter was easily the greatest season of them all. Summer was alright. School was out and we had two to three months of time off to play in the sun. The downside was the mosquitoes, which my hometown got in spades. Fall was lame, as it was the beginning of school. Not to mention the colours and the changing of seasons was lost on a child of my age. Spring was okay. It was wet, ’cause the snow had melted, and the free time we had was spent building little dams blocking streams. If there were times as a child that led me to a career in civil engineering technologies, this was it. But man, winter…
Winter was king, plain and simple. Sure, it was cold, but when you live in a little mountain town, the possibilities are endless. The first Christmas I remember vividly was when I was five. We had just moved into a new house, a house that was much closer to the mountains. Going to the hill, any hill, from the trailer park required a ride. In our new house, the hills were a block or so away. My parents capitalized on this and bought my brother and I GT snow racers.
King of the Hill
If you’re unfamiliar with this bad boy, this is the Noma GT snow racer. A GT made you the coolest kid on the hill, and we had two of them. To celebrate our new gifts, we went to the best sled run in town; Snake Hill. We were close to a hill, a little chute we could go down in a few seconds. Snake hill, on the other hand, was a short drive away and always a tobogganing party. It was packed, and for good reason. It was a sled paradise. Someone would normally have a fire at the bottom where you could warm up, and it was a hot spot for kids who’s birthday landed in the winter, like both my brothers.
There were two rides you could take. You could hike up this steep chute, a bomber that would take you down in under a few seconds. It was a speed run, and it wasn’t unusual for half a dozen children to pile onto an inner tube and barrel down this crazy grade. Kids would be bouncing off the tube as the few second ride progressed, and you were lucky if you were one of the two kids still clinging on for dear life. As a bonus, the kids on board would typically aim for the fire, making it a goal to try and run over the burning logs. This happened once, and after having to put a kid out with snow, I think we wised up and avoided the fire from then on (I can’t remember who went up in flames, but it was probably my brother Kelly. He’s the most flammable Charlton).
The main attraction was Snake Hill, so aptly named because it was a twisty, winding toboggan run that took at least a minute or two from the top to the bottom. Snake hill wasn’t as fast as the chute, but it was a better ride. It felt like a bobsled run. It had big, sweeping curves and a couple of shortcut jumps in the run. Getting up to the top was dangerous, because the only way up was walking on the run itself. Walking up required getting out of the way of speeding kids on crazy carpets, and it wasn’t unusual for a kid flying down to run into a kid climbing up, resulting in a high-speed collision. It was like a bowling alley, except the balls were fifty-pound children screaming down the hill at knee height, and the pins were fifty-pound children moving slowly up an icy slick toboggan run.
The GT changed the game, ’cause you could steer. The brakes on the thing were useless and would tear up the run (it wasn’t unusual to shun a kid if they were using their brakes), but the thing steered pretty well. When you were on a non-steering toboggan or a crazy carpet, you were basically holding on for dear life. With the GT, however, you were in control. That crazy run was now a race track, and you were driving the sweetest ride on the block. As a kid, I loved winter.
Now? I live on the prairies. Getting to a hill is a dangerous trek, and now that I’m an adult, these things cost money. Skis are expensive, and I get weird looks when I plow smaller children out of the way on the GT. The cold didn’t used to bug me, but now it gets me right to the bone. My skin used to be full of moisture and life, now I have to slather myself with hydrating cream, or dust my naked body with Gold Bond powder. I hate dusting my body people, I’m not a chinchilla.
The Norse blood that ran through my veins now runs dry. Maybe it’s because it’s the first real cold snap of the year, and I haven’t adjusted to it yet. But I think after living three decades on this planet, as well as having options, I think the warm coast might be a nice change of pace. Nothing wrong with the prairies, but there’re so many years on Earth I want to live with cracked and bleeding lips, and 30+ is enough of them for any lifetime.
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton.
p.s. Here’s the website I got the picture from. http://www.bossbi.com/bike/stiga/stiga.php
p.s.s. It’s mostly the seafood, actually. That’s the real reason I’m moving.
p.s.s.s. Like some mussels in a nice cream sauce.
p.s.s.s.s. Oh man, with some bread for dipping? Talk about my jam right there.