Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – or not

William Granick. Photo courtesy of William Gralnick

Oh, I loved it when it snowed. Like Snoopy, I caught the flakes on my tongue. It was painful putting on all those heavy clothes, but truth be told, I just had to stay still. My mother did most of the work. The first sound of snow? The metallic rattling of the metallic straps of my galoshes. I guess because it signaled that the next thing would be to open the door and step into the winter wonderland. Sorry, I missed a step. It was my mother going through my body like the final space shuttle check to make sure no drafts or shards could penetrate my armor. The end product was a snowman without the snow.

We had two modes of movement. If the snow was deep enough, we brought a trash can to the park. It had to be deep enough for the handle to scrape the ground. Of course we could take a sled. The sled was good for both types of snow. The sledge contained mathematics. Do you remember learning to ride a bike and then forgetting that you had to calculate how and where to turn? A sled was trickier. It had handles in the front, but they only turned the skates so far, as in not very. If you wanted to change lanes, so to speak, or more importantly, miss something looming ahead, you had to have your eyes peeled and start your calculation early. In the panic, if you turned the handles too hard and too fast, in the panic, you could end up in the snow, thrown by the sled, which now had to be chased down the hill. Or that panic could be the realization that you were going to hit the tree or rock you were trying to miss. The best strategy was to bail out and hope there was something left of the sled instead of its remains. If it was a rock, the now much lighter sled would go over it, and you would chase it down the hill again.

One year we went up to Ticonderoga. Near the famous Fort on Lake Champlain, this was snow heaven. We went sledding. It’s a whole different pot of fish (frozen, of course). Several people sit on this flat board which has a loop in the front, theoretically to keep snow and everything else out of your eyes. Glasses work better. Compared to a toboggan, a sled is a Model T. Compared to a sled, a toboggan is a rocket. And since several people are on it, their weight gives it speed. It has no handles or rudder. Because the wood is the only thing between your butt and the ground, you feel everything in extremis. I thought I saw a sign at the entrance: “Abandon all hope, you who enter…”

Slides cause the same effect as roller coasters. Except on the coasters, it’s what you see that makes you scream. On a toboggan, that’s what you don’t see that makes you scream. At some point, you wonder how the hell this thing is shut down. A successful stop activates the ability of the guy who changes the angle of the run so that in the end you no longer zoom but gradually climb. I seem to remember a snow fence, for just in case. I’m sure if he broke through the barrier, they would still be after us.

You might think this thread came to mind because of the snowstorms that just hit Brooklyn. Not at all. In fact, it was someone who reminded me of the day it snowed in Miami and heard the meteorologist say it might just happen again. Although this story and others came to mind, so did this thought. Yes, the buildings emptied as people downtown left their offices and rushed to the elevators and onto the street. In the “submarines”, it was the same thing. The housewives threw away everything that was at hand and rushed into the street.

Everyone stuck out their tongues. You might think it was to catch those one-of-a-kind crystals. No, again. Remember, this was Miami circa 1960. Everyone thought or hoped that a shipment of cocaine had exploded and your tongue was the gateway to the magic city. Ba boom! By the way, my longtime preference is not snow.

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