Each winter when I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for that wonderful day when there was enough snow to go sledding. The amount of snow had to be just right, as too much would make it impossible and too little would be a horribly muddy experience. I would love to say that I was a pro at sledding, but that would be a lie. I was never able to steer properly and would just point my sled in a direction that looked like it wouldn’t maim anyone on the way down, shove off, and hope for the best. Though I began with a wood and metal sled like this one, my parents quickly switched me to a plastic toboggan in order to avoid lawsuits. The plastic kind could still topple another child on the way down, but lacked the sharp bits that could slice off precious body parts. The unfortunate part of the plastic version is that you were no longer suspended above the snow and could feel every rock and bump, getting unceremoniously butt-pummeled all the way down. A small price to pay, I guess, for the sake of public safety.

I rather missed the wooden sled as I was able to launch onto it at a run and sail down on my stomach head first. This felt a bit like flying, which has always been a dream of mine. Also, I mistakenly felt that I had a bit more control, or could at least roll to the side should I find myself sailing toward a tree or another child, when I would of course have the decency to yell, “jump!” Certainly, holding my arms out to the side and flapping them didn’t count as steering. Switching to the plastic version was a bit of a let down. It lacked the ornate style and didn’t feel like a proper sled at all. I think mine was red, and then maybe yellow after the bottom wore out in the first one. Some kids had circular dishes that they rode, but those were simply not an option for me. It was like sitting on a toilet clinging for dear life, legs in the air, while occasionally spinning like a UFO. You could also sit cross-legged but I was already too tall to fit properly and could never quite bend my legs into that perfect yogi pretzel.

The hill we always went to was simply called “Sled Hill” and at my young age it seemed more like a mountain. I still remember the sheer and gleeful terror I felt the first time I slid down it. Like most kids, scaring the hell of myself was a delightful thing to do. It takes years to learn how to be truly afraid of things. I haven’t tried to return to that hill and give it go, but I’ve considered it. I’m sure now, it would look somehow small and unimposing, which would sort of kill my lifelong memory of accomplishment. I had scaled that mighty mountain, zoomed forth at lightening speed and made it to the bottom mostly unscathed. In my mind today, whenever I’m facing a difficult problem, I just think back to that time and remind myself that I was once fearless. I imagine myself grabbing that little bit of frost-bitten rope with my mighty mittens and I’m ready to tackle anything that comes my way. Assuming, of course, the problem doesn’t actually involve a tree or small children. I really was rubbish at the sport. Instead, I just focus on the bit where I wasn’t scared of taking chances and, no matter how steep, I would take the leap and go sledding down a hill.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Terra Cotta, Quinacridone Red, Cobalt Turqouise and Cobalt Blue.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 27 - Vintage Flyer Sled - Doodlewash

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36 thoughts on “Sledding Down A Hill

  1. Perfect painting of the iconic sled..we too had a sledding hill and if things went well we ended up going very fast.i was quite a chicken about going too fast and would bale off,however I wore glasses and one time they ended up buried in the snow,now that was a hunt for all who were there that day..I love how your stories spur memories. Thank you Charlie,I hope that you are enjoying vacation..silly me ,of course you are..

  2. Great idea to remember a moment when you were fearless when you need to be brave. I have far more moments that I remember though that are more like the sliding down the hill on a toilet thing, lol. And now I need to add envy for your skills at painting wood along with envy at your skill at painting shiny things!

  3. Your painting is beautiful, Charlie. It makes me nostalgic for a toboggan I never owned. Ha ha! I too have fond childhood memories of sledding. Snow can be inconsistent in Scotland so some of my sledding memories are simply of riding a tea tray down my Granddad’s stairs. I have also never quite forgiven my uncle for taking my siblings and I up a mountain to sled which led to the utter pulverisation of our fibreglass sledge when it hit some rocks at high speed. Happy times.

  4. I loved those sleds. I actually still have two in my basement. For years now they just stand against the side door decorated with a pair of ice skates, pine and holly. Brings back great memories of my school days fir me too. Great story Charlie.

  5. Firstly, your sled is awesome Charlie, one of my favorites in weeks. It’s so simple and I LOVE those shadows. Now onto breakneck speed, lol. I can just imagine you hurdling downhill. I used to get that same feeling of flying on my roller-skates when I was probably your age, about 10-14. I was really good on them and I swear I still dream of flying down the sidewalk, warm wind in my hair, In the dream I forget there are wheels attached to my feet and just feel the flying part. I’m guessing it’s the same for you, you forget the cold fingers, the icy snowflakes hitting your skin, and just remember the flying. ;o)

  6. You are a natural born writer and painter. That sled exudes a coiled energy
    that has me feeling snow mist on my face. The article is a joy. When I started
    to read it, I was sipping tea that burned my sore throat, holding my aching head
    with one hand and the mouse with the other, and shivering with chills. By the
    time I finished the article, I was on a hillside, on a wood and metal sled, careening
    past a kid on a saucer, one that I steered around with impeccable precision.
    (btw…in fact, my two sisters and I shared one wood and metal sled and one garbage
    can lid. I was the youngest, so I never got to steer. Thank you for this grand experience.)

  7. Thank you Charlie for the memories. I live on an island now in the south, but you brought back the magical fun of life in the snow up north. Your paintings and your writings are a much anticipated happening each and every day and I love them both. 🙂

  8. What a great story and though it’s been many, many, many years since I was a child sledding down my grandparent’s hill on a sled, hell bent to the bottom, I remember it vividly. I believe cars were never on the road so the street belonged to us kids. The only part I didn’t like was having to hike back up to the top of the hill to do it all over again (and again and again) When we exhausted ourselves, hot chocolate was the treat when we came in the house to warm up.


  9. Fabulous painting of the sled, Charlie! I enjoyed your memory. I think we were all a lot braver when we were young– ignorance of the ramifications of our actions probably helped a lot with being brave. lol

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