Would you still pull me back up the hill on the sled? Sure I would! Oh the joys of Facebook. My sister, Linda, lives up in New Hampshire and I commented on a recent photo of her standing in the snow.
It has been snowing up there in New England while it has been raining down here in Virginia. And I said something about wanting to be up there with her in the White Mountain regions. But it’s so far away!
So when I read her comment it took me back more than fifty years to the small hill in front of our little house where all the neighborhood children used to sled in winter. I tried to come up with a memory of pulling her up the hill but it’s gone.
All that remains is the sound of boots on crushed snow and ice and the steam that used to emerge from us as we ran around full of excitement in anticipation of the next rush down the hill.
I am standing there looking up at the sky as a jet leaves a vapor trail through the atmosphere. Soon it will be dark and before then I must go inside and stay there until tomorrow.
Ice has found its way between my gloves and the sleeves of my jacket. It lands close to the unprotected pulse and tears at the skin. My feet and face are numb but it really doesn’t matter. Because this is living and it is so much greater than anything else in my young life.
I am alive.
In a moment I reach the top of the hill and push off down the slope as mailboxes flash past and someone jumps out of the way. The metal runners hiss as they rip through the packed snow and for a moment I achieve speeds that are probably faster than the airplane overhead.
And then it is over and the sled has run up a short pile of snow at the end of a shoveled driveway. I fall backward for a moment and once again look up at the sky.
It is darker now and quieter too. I would love to stay here for awhile and watch the light slowly drift off into the starlit night. Would it be so bad to simply forget all the things I must do before it is time to sleep?
And stay here. Become a part of the landscape. Drift into the silent night.
Perhaps at some point I could get up and walk away from the hill and all the little houses with their solitary lamps and windows full of shadows and mystery. I could find a field with a pond of sparkling ice and a moon that casts a glow upon it. And then I could gather some sticks and build a fire while waiting for someone to come.
She will come. I know she will not leave me here. Dressed in a gown of sylvan twilight she will emerge from the darkness and smile as she touches my outstretched hand. And then we will rise above the trees and the hills. . .
Moving with increasing speed.
Until a distant star envelopes us in light and the warmth of her love brings us Home again.