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When I was a girl my family travelled to Victor, Idaho where our grandpa lived (the one with high walls of snow on either side of his walk). We loved to play in the deep snow and spent hours outside in it until our fingers and toes were too numb to feel anymore.

At home we often made “forts” out of large snowballs. While other homes sported snowmen, we had walled barricades. But at grandpa’s the snow was deep enough that we only had to dig downward. We dug circles in his backyard, each of us with our own. From these we held snowball fights, popping up out of our holes like a whack-a-mole game to fire off a missile.  

Along a back road we found the snow had drifted up against someone’s shed / garage high enough that we could mount it like climbing a small hill to the roof. From there we jumped into the deep snow below. When we tired of that, we tunneled into the drift along the wall of the shed. My sister, Terry, and I created a tunnel we both crawled into with room to spare.

Our dad told us of the year, when after a mighty storm, the snow had drifted so deep that he had to tunnel out of his front door then shovel down from the roof of his house. One time he built an igloo in his front yard and even built a fire in it. He wouldn’t let us try to repeat that experience though.

But he did offer an alternative. We loaded into our station wagon and strapped the sleds on top. Then we drove to a country road that made a perfect sledding hill. We loaded up the long wooden sled with metal runners and a cross bar for steering, fitting up to four of us on it for a single trip, then flew down the road. The snow would kick up and spray us in the face, and we’d grip each other’s boots to keep them from dragging. If the weight was sufficient we might make it around the bend. If we didn’t topple over before that. Sometimes one of us would get the short sled; then on our belly we’d swoosh down the hill head-on.

After our sledding time, my dad decided to try something new: He took a long rope and attached it to the handles of the sled and the other end to the frame at the back of the car. Then he gave some of us rides that way.

It is not something I ever tried to repeat, for a thousand reasons, most of them summed up in “because it is dangerous,” but we had a blast!

In those days, we didn’t wear bike helmets, seat belts, or put babies in car seats. We climbed trees until the branches swayed, my brothers hookey-bobbed on the back of cars, and I picked apricots from the top step of an old wooden, wobbly ladder. All in all, I prefer the safety measures society has moved toward, but sometimes I just want to jump in the back of a pick-up and go for a ride. Or at least flip cookies in a snow-packed parking lot. Station wagons work great.

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