The little boy’s blue eye’s peeked through his scarf-covered face, his lime green snowsuit was like a beacon at the top of the hill where he stood watching the bigger kids toboggan down the hill. He so wanted to go on the big hill with the bumps, and the hay at the bottom to stop the kids from crashing into the fence.
He was only four and his mom said no, not this year, you need to be taller. So they went on the “baby hill” on his silver flying saucer, and on the big toboggan with his mom. He loved going down the hill, bumping along, his mom screaming in his ear. For someone who said she was brave she sure screamed like she was scared. They tobogganed at Silver Star school, some friends’ houses and their lane, and all of it was fun. Even on big sheets of cardboard they could lie down or sit up and spin around, it tickled his tummy, it was fast, it was fun. His brother loved the snow, too, and liked to make forts for them to play in as well. They could stay outside for hours and then come inside and warm up by the fire and drink hot chocolate with little marshmallows.
It was the big hill he wanted to go on and he knew he would be safe. He also knew he would be good on the GT snow racer because his neighbour had let him sit on his and go down the driveway hill, it was easy. Just like driving a go cart, but maybe when he was taller he would be able to steer it better and manage the brakes if he could reach them. He wanted to get air.
And after he conquered the toboggan hill he was going for air on his skis. The family went cross country skiing and he really liked that especially when they made up games, and the hot chocolate and snacks after, but he needed speed. His mom just didn’t understand a boy needs to go fast.
He was taller and ready for this year’s snow fall — bring it on! Christmas morning he roared down the stairs and there under the tree was a GT snow racer, and a helmet. It was beautiful, green, all set up and ready for him to challenge the hill. He checked out the blades and wondered if they should be waxed to make it go faster, his Mom gave him the look. OK maybe not.
That afternoon they went to the Big Hill. There they stood, standing proud in their snow gear, surrounded by other boys and girls with their toboggans, cardboard boxes, flying saucers and, in a class of their own, the GT snow racers.
From this view the hill looked bigger this year with more snow, there were lots of bumps and he had watched the other kids zipping down, laughing, crashing and having so much fun.
He was ready, he lined it up, his eye on his course, a slight move forward and off he went. Flying, he went over one bump and you could hear his laughing at the top of the hill, as he sped down the hill to the bottom, going so fast he crashed right into the hay stack, slamming with a thud and falling over. He lay on the ground, his GT off to the side. His brother pulled up beside him and his mom came running down the hill, assuming the worst.
He lay there feeling the cold on his back, staring up at the sky with the biggest smile on his face. “Are you all right?” his mom asked.
“Fantastic — I’m going to go again and this time I am going to get big air. Race you!” And that was the beginning of years of big air and twists and turns, and crashes and always big smiles.
There is nothing like a Canadian winter for bringing joy into a child, a teen or an adult’s life, whether that is a walk in the woods, snowshoeing, skating on a pond, cross country skiing, downhill, freestyle, boarding or a GT snow racer. Bundle up, put on your helmets and have fun.
There is something special about the smell of a child’s cheeks after they have been playing outside in the cold and they come in to warm up and tell you about their exciting adventures in their winter wonderland. It’s a parent’s moment that fills your heart.
Bring it on!
Michele Blais is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, writing every other Sunday on a variety of topics.