Jottings from Fifth and G: Snow days on the hill
Our huge fluffy white dog, Cloud, galumphed joyfully down the snowy hill next to our daughter on her sled. It was a rare snowy day on our steep hill and most of the neighborhood kids (plus their dogs and more adventurous parents) had been out on their sleds since it was first light. As our Great Pyrenees dog had a thick undercoat for winter, he was happiest outdoors on cold days — especially when he could pound down the hill next to a sled, barking loudly. This was years ago when the hill was seldom plowed early, so the street stayed sleddable until it melted. Those adults who had been able to make it off the hill for work and back up jumped on the sleds after dinner, and you could hear their laughing shouts in the dark until bedtime.
I preferred to watch the snow day action from inside my living room window, however. The steepest part of the hill was almost in front of our house, and it was mildly entertaining to watch those intrepid souls who had driven around the "road closed" barriers at the bottom of the hill, certain they could make it up without a problem. Most couldn't, however, and I often watched a car or SUV speed confidently up as far as my house, then, wheels spinning, be unable to go further. They would then slide ignominiously backward down the street to the bottom as the sledding kids stood safely on the sidewalk, grinning. Those drivers seldom tried twice, chastened.
One snowfall was on New Year's Eve, so some of us high on the hill had a house-to-house sledding dinner party, serving a different course and wine at each house. Unsurprisingly, the laughter and shrieking got louder as we slid from house to house that night, probably waking the neighborhood as we welcomed the new year.
Sometimes the snow was a surprise and I was caught on the bottom of the hill with a car not made for climbing in snow. Coming home one afternoon from a performance of "The Nutcracker," I was wearing dress shoes with no traction, only to find a blanket of unexpected snow covering the road up the hill. I knocked on a friendly stranger's door near the bottom for help and borrowed her son's soccer shoes to climb my way up to home. I returned them a few days later along with a tin of cookies to show my gratitude, as our dog had been waiting impatiently at home for an outdoor trip. After that, I kept my own pair of soccer shoes in the trunk. If I had a plane to catch early in the morning for a business trip and snow was expected during the night, I parked my car at the bottom of the hill the night before, was driven back up, then next morning walked down to my car in my business suit wearing the soccer shoes in the snow, with my good shoes in my briefcase. It was definitely an invigorating, if chilly, way to start the day.
Most of those families I watched years ago have now dispersed from our hill in all directions; some are nearby and some far away. Many of the children I watched sledding now have children of their own, some even older than they were then. But before long there will undoubtedly be another snowfall up here. The parents who live below will grumble that it is only raining where they are so wonder why their kids have a school snow day. Up on the hill, however, we will be listening to the shouts of children sledding down the street in the snow early in the morning before the plow comes through, their dogs joyfully running beside them, wildly barking with excitement.
How wonderful that some things don't change, because, after all, who can resist a hill, a sled and snow?
Peggy Keonjian is a member of the Jottings Group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.