Slide Line

Blustery cold winds blew clouds of snow across the playground. Happy to be out of the classroom for recess, my classmates and I burst out of the school building ready to play. I stopped and realized it was too windy for jump ropes or kick balls. What games could we play?

            The mittens Mom had fastened to my coat so I wouldn’t lose them, and a large cotton headscarf tied tightly under the chin kept me toasty warm.

            The snow wouldn’t stick together, so we couldn’t throw snowballs or make a snowman. I shrugged. Our teacher wouldn’t let us do either of those things anyway. Sister Florence gloomily scolded, “A hard snowball can take out a person’s eye if you hit them in the face!” Making a snowman was completely out of the question since our playground was the church parking lot.

A classmate named Jimmy found a perfect place to slide on the far end of our play area, a stretch of gently sloped blacktop covered in packed snow. Yelling at the top of their lungs, several of the boys took turns running to that spot and suddenly stopped to slide. I watched with interest. Before long, the slide looked like a dark, shiny ribbon of glass.

            Everyone on the playground wanted to take a turn sliding on the ice. True to our grade school training, instead of fighting, we formed a line so everyone could take a turn at our homemade carnival ride. With shrieks of laughter, some of us fell into nearby snow piles. We tumbled and rolled in our bulky woolen coats, landing unhurt and unconcerned.

            Slipping and sliding on ice lost its appeal as I grew older. It no longer elicits happiness and excitement as it did when I was nine years old. As an older adult, I no longer tumble and roll like a rubber ball. Instead of looking forward to snow days off from school, I spend winter days and evenings nervously glancing out windows at falling snow, wondering if it is safe to drive to work or home. Being a good driver on icy roads is a big responsibility.

            Living in a land where we have ice and snow for six out of the twelve months of the year requires a sense of humor. Things can happen even when being careful.

One spring afternoon before I left work, big fluffy snowflakes began falling. At first the snow just melted on the road but turned lawns, fields and sidewalks white. By the time I left Marshfield, the roads were covered with an inch of wet, slushy snow.

Despite driving slower than usual, one mile from home, my car suddenly skidded. Time slowed down. I could see that my car, having crossed the oncoming lane, was going to fall into the deep ditch on the other side of the road. Like a reluctant rollercoaster rider, I tightly gripped the steering wheel and yelled, “No!” Moving as if having a mind of its own, the car dove eagerly into the ditch.

When the car stopped moving, I was relieved that I’d survived. My car hadn’t hit another car or a tree or rolled over. Wondering if I could just drive away from the accident, I pressed on the accelerator. The wheels spun uselessly. I opened the car door to climb the steep bank back to the road.  

I hailed a passing Farmer’s Co-op truck to hitch a ride home. An hour later, the tow truck driver I had called picked me up from my house. He instructed me to steer my car as his winch dragged it out of the ditch. The car tilted odd angles as it left its flat landing spot to traverse the steep incline. For me this was as frightening as the trip into the ditch.  

            Later that evening I told my daughters about my scary accident and concluded, “Sliding into the ditch was like an expensive carnival ride. It cost me to slide into the ditch and more to be yanked out of it. In grade school my classmates and I stood in line to take turns sliding on ice. If I’d had a choice, I wouldn’t have stood in line for this unpleasant slide!”   


One thought on “Slide Line

  1. The playground slide sounds like the one we had at our country school. We also had a ‘ski’ slide where would run & then stand -‘skiing’ down the hill. I did well until a boy decided he was better & tripped me from the side causing my leg to get stuck under me when I hit the big pile of snow at the end (which we usually jumped over). I broke my leg & didn’t get to try the hill again. it was deemed ‘too dangerous’! I was 7!!!! No ditch sliding for me YET!!! Hopefully none in the future either.

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