venerdì 4 gennaio 2008

Snow, Snow, Snow

At last we have snow! It has been snowing now for three days. We haven't really had much accumulate in that time. The first day was sort of a tease. There were these fluffy little snowflakes that landed and melted. The second day was a bit more serious, but it was only sticking to places away from the road, but after the sun went down, or rather it started getting darker, it began to accumulate in earnest. Now we have a nice blanket, albeit a rather shallow one, of lovely white snow.
The kids are trying desperately to sled down our hill. Believe me it is steep enough, as it is a chore to climb home, but they can't seem to get going for very far. It is probably a good thing. Although our first winter here we did see someone towing their youngster on his sled up this really steep grade with their CAR. I wonder what the trip down was like?
I remember my heady sledding days back in Massachusetts. We got a fair amount of snow in our part of the state, and it seemed we would gladly spend a better part of our daylight hours outside playing. The only thing that was more fun than being outside was coming inside, stripping off all of your snow paraphernalia, removing your inevitably soaking wet socks, and drinking that nice hot cup of cocoa. For those of you who grew up in a warmer clime, snow paraphernalia includes not just hats, mittens, scarfs and coats, but snow boots and either snow pants or a snow suit. The snow pants/suit were a hellish, but necessary part of the winter outdoor pleasure. I am fairly certain that when you were old enough you graduated to the snow pants, as the suit was a bit more restrictive. Also, the pants made it a lot easier if you were forced out of necessity to take a bathroom break.
We had several sled options. Here they have the typical plastic model that was also available in my day, but they also have what can best be described as a sliding bench. It has an updated antiquated feel that really appeals to my aesthetic sense. I like the look of them a bit more than our wood and metal models, what I think of as the traditional American sled. You know the one with the useless bar that was supposed to help you steer. I have not seen these European models in action, so I'm not sure if they glide over the snow any better. There was, of course, the toboggan, but ours was one made for at least four people, and never left the shed that often. As a kid my favorite sleds were the round saucer kind. They seemed to give you the wildest ride, and they had those handles on each side to give you a false sense of control.
My grandparents had a fairly steep incline in the backyard the we used for entertainment both in winter and summer. It was great for gentle sledding, and during the summer also served us well for the slip 'n slide. We never had a real slip 'n slide. Grandpa never liked to buy anything full price when he could find some cheap equivalent at the warehouse stores he loved to comb through, or better yet, discarded at the dump. Somehow he found a huge roll of really thick plastic sheeting on which we just placed the running hose at the top. It actually functioned really well. One of the few instances where his frugality paid off.
When we moved onto Ft. Devens sledding became a bit more difficult. The housing complex was on top of a hill, but the only paths for sledding were either in the woods, or on the road heading out of the complex. Using the road wasn't really an option, as it was one of the only two roads that led out of the area, so we would sled by default in the woods behind the houses. One time, I was on my saucer, and I believe by myself, and I found this great twisty path where you really picked up speed. At the end there was a bit of a lip and I popped up rather forcefully right onto the downhill slope of the street heading out of the neighborhood. This was really frightening as I realized, even at the tender age of six, that I could have easily been flattened by a passing car. Perhaps I decided that I should use one of the other paths that ran away from the street, or maybe I just went inside and pulled off my soaking socks. I know for certain that I never sledded down that path again.

giovedì 3 gennaio 2008

Buon Anno

It's a new year, again. Funny how it always seems to happen without my consent. I have high hopes for this year, but I'll try not to be too optimistic. I don't want to jinx myself. Ah, I see there is still room for the pessimist within me.
For the first time in many years, as far as I can remember, January first was not gloomy and overcast. However, I did do many of the same things I usually do on January 1st which is next to nothing. I did not do the following: 1) wake up with a wicked hangover, 2) get two or three hours of sleep because of no. 1, 3) go out and find the only diner open for miles, mainly because diners don't exist in Italy, and 4) have fried eggs and hash browns for breakfast.
I did miss not doing 3 & 4. It's my favorite New Year's Day activity. One particularly memorable New Year's Day I went with a friend and her then boyfriend, both of whom shall remain nameless, to King's Diner in Raleigh. I remember somehow I found out through a friend of my sister's which Raleigh diner was likely to be open on New Year's Day and it's location, but I'm a little shaky on how it transpired.
We had spent a quiet, but enjoyable New Year's with said friend's boyfriend's sister. Usually we celebrated in much more raucous style. That being said, New Year's in Chapel Hill was always a difficult proposition. There was never anyone in town, and the only bar open was usually one that just wasn't our style. For awhile it was Four Corners, which was located next to the post office, and attracted a more collegiate crowd. Most of the time there were rumors of parties that we spent hours trying to find. I remember wandering around the empty streets of Carrboro only to find a few stragglers, along with the last strains of Taz Halloween's performance, in a building on Weaver Street. Out of beer, and out of luck, we all wandered back disheartened to my apartment. Sadly, this was a typical experience.
The next morning always seemed to be the same. Gray skies and the search for the open diner. The year in question, in Raleigh, was no different in this respect. Since we were a trio, and I was not part of the couple, we sat in a booth in the formation of a triangle. Another trio of people came in and sat in the mirror image of our configuration. I was left facing this guy who continued to stare at me the entire time we were there. I was never really sure that he was actually staring at me, or if due to the way we were seated that it just seemed that way. However, as we were pulling out of the parking lot in the boyfriend's van, this guy happened to be exiting, and continued to stare at the car as we pulled away. We had a good laugh about it, and drove to a neighboring town to see if my current love interest was home. You can tell by the fact that I didn't actually spend New Year's with him, as to how stable that relationship was. He wasn't home of course, and we drove from Sanford back to Chapel Hill, as the gray day became an even grayer evening.
I'm not sure what a sunny New Year's Day portends, but I can only surmise that it is a good thing. Hopefully all of you had sunny New Year's Days too.