Over the Hill and On the Hills by Sharon O’Donnell
Okay, I’m officially over the hill. I knew this when the TV weatherman said that the snow we’d expected wasn’t going to materialize after all. Snow in my part of North Carolina is perhaps an annual thing at most, and one of any significant accumulation to allow for sledding and snowman building is a rarity indeed. So growing up, snow was magical when it fell, and we’d sit at the huge picture window in our living room watching the snowflakes flutter down. Since snow is not common here, the towns and cities don’t put much snow-removal equipment in their budgets. When it snows a few inches or more, roads are not safe and people hunker down in their cozy homes, and the kids venture out to play. Schools are closed for safety reasons for at least a few days. In the great snowfall of 2000 when it snowed two feet, I think schools were closed for a week and a half or so. Businesses were closed too, and everything came to a standstill. Fun for a while, but I got so bored that I cleaned out my pantry from top to bottom and even organized photos (probably the last time I did that). My family looked forward to episodes of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the game show that had just started and ran several times a week. That was the highlight of the day. Sad.
But it was great family time at a slower pace with a good excuse not to have to go anywhere. This is better for younger kids than teens, though, because teenagers get cabin fever after a day or so, and access to a mall or sporting event is a high priority.
Most of the snow fall in the past decade has been 2 or 3 inches or so, making my 10-year-old and even my older boys long for snow. And I have too. On Christmas night — a few weeks ago — we got our area’s first measurable snowfall in a while — eight inches that blanketed the ground and — yes — the roads. Luckily, schools were already out for the holidays, so making up lost school days wouldn’t be a concern. We were able to enjoy the snow on Sunday, the day after Christmas, and the roads weren’t as bad as they’ve been in past snow storms. So on Monday, we were actually able to venture out to places. My middle son had to play in a high school basketball tournament, so we went to the game, which his team won. Then my oldest son, a college sophomore, got in the car to drive to Orlando with some friends to attend his school’s football bowl game.
On Tuesday morning, my 10-year-old was begging to go sledding. Yet, one brother was still in the bed, tired from basketball games and practices, and the other one was in Florida — while my husband was at work. There are not many kids his age in our neighborhood, though there are plenty of teens. I felt that familiar guilt about having that age gap between my boys because my older two always had each other to play with. I knew what I had to do — even though I had back surgery two years ago and have two screws in my shoulder. I had to go sledding with my youngest. He took me to a hill that was popular with teens in the neighborhood. He and a friend had gone there the day before. It was more ice than snow and pretty steep. It was also deserted because it was 9:00 in the morning, and teens, of course, were still asleep.
I started down the hill on my sled, and immediately reached out and stopped myself before I got going too fast. The hill was way too slippery and fast for me. If I continued down, I think I’d land at the bottom at about 100 miles an hour. I took Jason down mid-way and let him sled from there, but I stood by and watched. He had fun, but I know he was disappointed that I didn’t participate more. However, the walk back along the greenway was beautiful and provided us an opportunity to talk. I did do some sledding on the hill in our yard when we got back, which, hey, it was something. He hugged me before we went inside, so I think he knows I tried my best.
Now there is talk of another snow storm on Monday night — just in time to interfere with the high school exam schedule, basketball games, my husband’s business meeting, and a ton of other stuff. Thus, when the meteorologist called for snow, my reaction — for the first time in my life — was — “Oh please don’t let it snow.” I was amazed those words came out of my mouth, and I suddenly felt 20 years older. Was I no longer mesmerized by falling snowflakes? Could I no longer find the magic of the snow as I used to do? Am I no longer a kid at heart?
Damn. Okay, if it doesn’t snow, that is good. If it does snow, I’ll try to be excited about it and will maybe attempt sledding again. I’ll try to be out on the hills instead of over the hill. I’ll look forward to our next snowfall. Besides, I think it’s about time to clean out my pantry and organize photos again.