Monday, February 9, 2015

Sledding – It’s Been Downhill All the Way


When the frosty flakes start to stick, most children rush outside to build snowmen, toss snowballs or flap their arms and legs for snow angels. Mine grab a bowl and spoon to make a meal. Yo, kids—they are “frosty flakes” not “Frosted Flakes.” Once sufficiently stuffed (or intestinally hypothermic), my offspring then often head for the garage to dig out their sleds.

For me, growing up among the rocks and trees of North Stamford meant only being able to venture out to our pre-shoveled driveway or the backyard for a zip downhill on an ancient wooden Speedaway with half-rusted runners. However, one moonless January evening after dusk, I learned metal TV trays provided a superior riding speed and distance when I promptly rocketed up and over a wire fence and into our mucky backyard pond.

My children have more (and drier) options, provided they can stop our Labrador retriever from chewing on their foam Snow Boogie boards like they were Milk-Bone burritos. Within a short trudge of our home is the Sterling Farms Golf Course, which I understand from longtime residents in my neighborhood was an even shorter trudge way back in the day before use of wire-cutters was deemed poor civic etiquette. The most obvious choices here are the long, wide fast rides from the sixth green and the seventh tee box. However, we sometimes just avoided the crowds by staying on the short but steep side-to-side approach to the ninth green. Note I wrote “side-to-side.” Sledding lengthwise down the 350-yard ninth fairway is a breathtaking ride until you discover the neck-breaking cliff behind the tee box. Don’t ask how I know. When the need for speed wasn’t so great when my kids were young, we’d stay on the gentle slope of the eighteenth fairway. I wish my tee shots would adhere to such a smooth path.

One great sledding venue still unknown to my kids, but familiar to my wife and me is Cummings Park. When we were young, single and (don’t tell the priest who married us) living in sin in a downtown condo in the 1990s, we took more than a few trips down the 60-degree hill overlooking the playgrounds. Our rides—cheap plastic roll-up sheet-sleds purchased from the old Caldor store at Summer and Broad streets. Those offered good speed, lousy control, and worse cushioning for your, um, bottom line. Trust us.

NOTE: This article first appeared in Stamford Magazine.

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