Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Blue Toboggan

When I was about 10 years old, Santa brought my brother and I identical blue toboggan sleds for Christmas.

They were constructed of a hard, durable plastic and made in such a way as to be hollow in the middle. A yellow rope allowed you to tow the sled up and down the hills and also gave you the option of sitting up and hanging on and hopefully steering, though there was nothing to steer.

These sleds moved like lightning, zipping down the hills so fast that the ride was over before the next breath. They were so easy to carry and handle that they made a Flexible Flyer obsolete, to my mind.

The farm where I grew up, being in these southwestern Virginia hilly and mountainous lands, contained many slopes. Some of the rises ended at the creek; others were cut by fences or paraded upon by cattle. Finding the best sled run was a never-ending quest and one by one we tried them all.

Those adventures frequently ended with us careening without direction into trees, barbed wire, stopped automobiles, mailboxes, buildings, and whatever else lay in the general direction we pointed the toboggans. All it took was a run and a belly-flop onto the plastic and whoosh! we were off.

One of our favorite runs was on the property down the road (though I daresay it was the neighbor's kids as much as the slope that was the draw). Unfortunately, cattle roamed that particular hill and it was filled with bramble bushes, stick weed, and thistle. Circumnavigating this course took a special feat of skill and in general was not accomplished without injury.

So it was that we had a huge snow and we trudged up to the neighbors for our slipping and sliding in the wet stuff. The climb up the long hill took forever, and at the bottom of the run was a creek. The thrill of rolling off at the bottom or getting very wet added to the general excitement, fear, and exhilaration of the event.

It would be a race to the finish, with the last kid standing the winner.

I belly-flopped onto the plastic and zoom! I was off, trailing in the wake of one of the neighbors. He crashed into a brier bush and I flew by, headed down, down, faster and faster, with the knowledge that I was moving quickly toward the creek.


The toboggan came to a dead stop and I flew off, landing in the snow, the creek still a distance away. I gasped for air as my chest crushed against me, for the wind had been knocked from my lungs. Finally, I sat up and wiped snow from my face with my mittened hand, then went in search of the sled.

It had scooted beyond me and was dangerously close to the icy water. I fetched it and then went in search of the obstacle.

I had been done in by a frozen cow pile.

And I did not win the race.


  1. HA. Cute story. That's sledding in a rural area for you.


  2. Better a frozen cow pile than an unfrozen fresh one.

    Don't you wish we could have that much fun in the snow now?

  3. I love childhood memories like these!

  4. How about the time we were on the Flexible Flyers and jumping the ditch line and the runners collapsed under us!!!!!!!! We tore up some sleds for sure!!!!! Or the time the drive way was solid ice except for the cattle gaurds and as we flew down and crossed them you'd go from 50 mph to about 10 mph and about fly off!!!


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