It’s a shame to ruin such a beautiful morning by being awake.
Those words from an old comic book of mine rang in my ears as I crawled out of my bed. Glancing out my window into my back yard, thirty centimeters of snow remained untouched, pristine, like a giant blank A4 leaflet. Light footprints dotted the fresh snow, telltale signs of the mornings that the little birds and wandering cats spent outside. The sun shone brightly overhead, illuminating the neighbourhood with an enveloping light, setting the icicles on the roofs and the snow piles on the lawns ablaze with twinkling sparkles.
I was glad. It wasn’t just because I had finished most of the shovelling the night before. It wasn’t just because there was virtually no homework for the weekend. Well. Maybe that’s a stretch. But the pure, glistening street observed from the comfort of a heated room definitely didn’t hurt.
I suddenly remembered I’d promised to go sledding with a few friends that afternoon. It had been a long time since I last took a ride on a sled, maybe a few years. The last time we had any major snowfall, I was already too “cool” to go sledding. Sledding was for little kids. Teens had more important things to do, like play video-games and stay up late. I almost persuaded myself not to go this time too, but a quick message from a friend guilt-tripped me back into it.
As I finally stood at the top of the hill looking left and right for the group of misfit high school kids frolicking around like big little children, I noticed something.
I was completely wrong about everything.
This was also why I couldn’t find my friends. For I had expected a few people, maybe just ten or so, to be on the hill. I had expected all of them to be children, or the parents of those children.
Instead, the slope spanning the width a football field was covered with merry sledders of all ages. A dad with his daughter on his lap whistled down the slope. Two crazy high school teens catapulted themselves onto the hill, laughing and groaning as they tumbled down on their bellies. A kid covered in snow clambered bit by bit up the steep hill, looking forward to his next run. The air was full of excited screams and delighted laughter, as everyone took their turns down the slippery slope. Grins from ear to ear filled the faces around me, as the bright sun sparked off their squinting eyes like the icicles on the rooftops of my street.
They were more breathtaking than the morning I’d observed.
For here was a community of people, of sledders, connected not through race, or age, or location, for the cars were parked all along the winding road beside the hill. This was a community formed on that day, on that hill, by the people who came to share in the enjoyment of the snow, to welcome the opportunity for bonding, to revel in the pleasures of our Canadian winter.
As I located my own friends, I tore a sled from the nearest person I knew, and jumped straight down the hill to greet the others at the bottom. Yes, the sled was a primitive sheet of plastic. Yes, the hill was bumpy and knocked the wind out of my lungs. Yes, I felt like a giant idiot. But it didn’t matter. Because as the sled slid out behind me and the snow rushed to greet my face, I knew that my friends would be there too, laughing at me, laughing with me.
I stumbled back in bed, flopping down after a nice hot shower. Having shed my soggy socks and frozen scarf, I lay there, thinking about the cracked ribs I may or may not have had from going down the ramp on the hill too many times. The lonely scene outside my bedroom window still lay pristine, untouched. The eerie glow of a snowy night slowly replaced the radiant sun’s sparkling beauty.
What a wonderful day. What a wonderful hill.