The snow over Thanksgiving was a perfect snow. It was not too cold, not too deep, or too long-lasting. Our son drove in from Houston, Texas with his college roommate from Russia. They arrived late one evening and the snowy magic happened overnight. We awoke to a covering of pristine white covering everything.
After breakfast, all five of the boys went out to, well…, be boys. Much talk filled the air about which slopes would be the best for sledding. They tried the front of the house but it was too steep. They tried the side but it was not steep enough. Finally, they ended up behind the barn up in the mountain a good ways. They started with the inner tubes but soon traded them for plastic sleds bought last year. Within about fifteen minutes one of the plastic sleds was torn to pieces and they came in looking for trashcan lids. I indicated a strong “no” to the lids. They tromped out and got a shovel out of the barn to add more snow to the track so that it would run faster and smoother. They worked and worked on their path and stomped in for lunch.
Over lunch, the merits of each sledding attempt was discussed. Talk of going to Walmart for more plastic sleds was in the air when dad hit upon a great idea.
“Why don’t you guys try out the kayaks?
“Kayaks???” they all screamed. “Really? You don’t care?”
Last summer we purchased several different kinds of kayaks. Two are long, sleek, and orange. One is a nice, red, medium size but definitely kayak shaped. Stuck in the back of the garage were two, flat-bottomed, bright blue kayaks that no one really wanted to use on the water. We kayaked over the summer and into the fall, but no one liked to use the blue ones because they are shorter and less stable in the water.
Within moments, the sporty, blue, Sundolphin kayaks were accepted as sled replacements.
The floor was open for discussion of how to actually kayak down the side of a snow covered mountain. Talk was heavy with suggestions and ideas. They all struggled back into their snow clothes and headed to the garage to get the kayaks. All afternoon, I could see blazing blue streaks from my kitchen window. After the dishes were finished, I went out to video. The kayaks were perfect. They were heavy enough to pick up speed and wide enough not to tip over no matter what size of boy or girl. The boys had the path packed down and kept adding snow from the sides so that each trip was faster and faster. As with all sledding enterprises, the hardest thing was getting back up the hill.
About dark, my university son came in with red cheeks and frozen locks. He ordered hot chocolate for all and we sat and watched from the kitchen window. He regaled me with the technical specifications of how fast the kayaks were and how far they had extended their glide landing. We looked at the videos I made earlier and reminisced a bit about his boyhood.
He sipped his chocolate and said, “I am glad dad thought about using the kayaks as sleds.” I nodded agreement as he continued, “Do you remember when you guys first moved to West Virginia?” I nodded and sipped. “And, I rode the little, red wagon down the side of the mountain?” He smiled and shook his head as he replayed the event in his mind.
“I sure do. I remember how you crashed at the bottom and nearly killed yourself right before your sister tried it.”
He laughed. “I know. But I had to do it because Calvin and Hobbes did it all the time. I needed to see if it would work. I still have a scar on my arm.” We both laughed and watched the snow kayakers come in the back door.
“Oh, mooooommmm, you should have seen me going down that mountain. That was way more fun than river kayaking,” reported the pre-teen.
“I went even faster than he did!” chimed in the third grader.
The young man from Russia smiled his agreement.
They lugged the kayaks up and down the mountain again the next day amidst much laughter and joyful complaining. I am thinking that someday the story will swell in the telling and be exaggerated a million times over as they convince their children that they really did kayak down the mountains at breakneck speeds one Thanksgiving back in the “good ol’ days.”