January 31, 2014
Snow … I don’t like it. I grew up in it. I learned to drive in it. I shoveled it, I packed it and threw it, I ate it and I tunneled in it. I liked it then, but not now.
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, the snow event we experienced did not send me hurtling back to my days as a Yankee youngster. Instead, I assumed the role as the Grinch of Snowfall — wishing every moment that it was 75 degrees with light breezes with the sight and sounds of white seagulls floating past overhead.
But the only thing overhead was white snowflakes pelting the ground and piling up.
It messed up my usual flow of sports, it messed up my living conditions and it messed up … well, everything.
It did, however, bring a single light moment to our office, which I will eventually get to.
When I was in my younger days — a time when I wanted to be outdoors more than I wanted to sleep — I managed to enjoy the snow on the nearest hill in as many ways as you can imagine. Usually that meant sliding down that hill from top to bottom on anything I could find.
Some of those hills were quite large, so while the trip down would be exciting, the walk back up was part of the calculation for whether it was, in the long run, worth it. After a few trips down, the return trip quickly became too much work and we trudged home to find another snow-related activity.
Some of the hills were far shorter, and those we could spend all day and half the night on. At some point, we also built obstacles on the hills — banks of snow for turns, small and large jumps — to make things more interesting.
My mother hated those jumps. She especially hated when someone would go out at night and drench those jumps with water so it would freeze by the next day. We sure did catch some air off those icy jumps.
My dad, on the other hand, secretly loved those jumps. At times, he would give us pointers on how we should be building them so they would last longer — like using a snow-filled garbage can as the foundation to pack snow around and construct the jump. If my mother ever knew who thought that one up …
Anyway, our man-made obstacles were only half the equation for our youthful excitement on snow. The other half was the vehicle we chose to navigate these hills.
I’ve ridden just about every kind of contraption down a snow-covered hill — short of anything motorized — there has been. Sleds, toboggans (not the kind you wear on your head), saucers, skis, skateboards, Snurfers (now called snowboards), car tires and garbage can lids. There was even a day when a serious lack of common sense convinced a few of us that we could ride an overturned picnic table down the hill — a scene that did not turn out so well, as you can imagine.
Surprisingly enough, I have never ridden a cardboard box down a snowy hill. I think we all thought that the cardboard would quickly become water-logged and ruined, so what was the point. Figures, doesn’t it, that we would actually think that scenario through carefully and not the picnic table incident.
Anyway, this all leads me back to the humorous moment this week here in the office …
As we debated the soon-to-arrive snowfall, I happened to throw out there that we have a whole lot of empty boxes of all shapes and sizes in our back room, and wouldn’t it be fun to slide down into Tory Hole in them?
Well, apparently the 40 years or so that have spanned between the picnic table escapade and now has given me a bit more understanding between what is sane and incredibly insane.
We all quickly laughed it off, but I didn’t completely let go of the idea altogether right there and then. Before I drove out of the parking lot that evening, I took a slow walk around the edge of Tory Hole where it backed up against the lot, peering down the steep embankment and trying to imagine it covered in snow.
As I stood there, closing my eyes to put the picture firmly in my mind, I soon began to clearly see all the hazards, mayhem and potential death that awaited anyone who attempted a trip over the edge in nothing more than a box. If there is a parallel, it would be like going over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.
Plus, the walk back up the embankment would be brutal.
Yes, I used to like snow. But now that the lure of its potential thrills are gone, snow is nothing more than a bad four-letter word and those crazy Yankees can have it.
— W. Curt Vincent is the general manager and editor of the Bladen Journal. He can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at email@example.com.