As a little girl, I grew up at the bottom of a small hill. It never really felt small, but as I look at it while driving by now, it’s barely a speed bump. Not really. But it’s definitely not a “hill” that one would dream of sledding on.
My sister and I did sled on it though — every time we had a chance. When there was just enough snow that the pavement was covered, we were there. It was perfect. Not too steep, but not too flat. Just the way I find myself hoping life to be — which is not very realistic I know.
The things I remember most quickly about the hill aren’t all the successful runs on our sleds, but the crashes. The fat lips, the concussions, the “there probably wasn’t enough snow” type of catastrophes that seemed to happen more often than not. Those experiences that almost make it so you don’t ever want to sled again for fear of getting hurt — and yet, here I am at the age of 41 still sledding.
I’ve lived a lot of my life thinking about how things have bruised or injured me, which has often kept me from doing some of the most amazing things. And just when I get up enough courage to give it a go again, something happens. I flip on a tube, I about knock myself out, I crash with other people, and I collide with immovable objects — but I live. Yes, I live, and learn that life is supposed to be about collisions sometimes.
I never really thought about sledding as something to teach my kids to love, but here we are, trying to give them a taste of how good, how necessary, how important it is to try things that might even scare them a bit.
Trying things and holding on — with a trust that the person who told you to try it, the person who told you it would be ok, the person that’s cheering for you from the top of the hill ... that they really know what they’re talking about.
A few years ago we went for a drive in search of a place to sled. There wasn’t really a hill that day, but there was snow. Enough snow that we had the opportunity to get the boys on their new sleds, where they could be pushed into the beautiful falling flakes of winter with gusto and enthusiasm. I watched from behind my camera with a smile — because I like “flat,” I like “predictable,” and I loved that even though they weren’t “sailing” down a hill, they were still loving it.
Recently, they’ve grown tired of the flat and predictable, and have recognized the steep hills below our home as the perfect place to “try” not to kill themselves. They’ve sailed over the sagebrush, ran over rock piles, collided with each other, and had the time of their lives dodging cattle and cow dogs. They haven’t needed our push anymore. In fact, they haven’t even needed us to ride with them.
And so I’ve sat in the warmth of our home on the hill — watching the present unfold as the boys sail down the hills with our doctor on speed dial, but also remembering and treasuring the moments that have made this adventure of ours full of the most beautiful flat places the world has to offer.
We’ve pushed our way through the past 15 years, ridden down some crazy hills, climbed to the tops of some amazing places, and lived to tell all about it all.
I think our boys will remember each and every snowy wonderland we have had the chance to experience during the past few years for a very long time. Not because of the hills we have below our house or the fabulous mountain slopes we live near, but for the fact that we’ve given them opportunities to play no matter where we’ve found the snow. We’ve pushed them through drifts, cheered them across canyons, and rode right with them down some of the greatest slopes.
That is what life is about. Not the fluff, not the picture-perfect hills, not the ski resort experiences, but so much more about finding out how to live well right where we’re at — on the flattest of flat or on the steepest of steep. So here’s to snow and sleds, and enjoying the ride!
Lindsay Murdock lives in Echo and teaches in Hermiston.