Bryhanna Greenough goes sliding – in garbage!
It’s cheap, it is easy, and it’s thrilling enough to justify tearing a hole in the winter air with your vocal cords. Blasting down an icy chute face first, your body transforms into an unstoppable gravity bomb. And the older I get, the scarier it is.
Sledding began in the Alps during the Victorian era. British visitors to the wintry mountain resort towns took to racing down the narrow laneways on delivery boys’ sleds. Carts, wheelbarrow hulls, wagons – the equipment designed for everyday work was used for play by the Beautiful People of wealth and leisure. Or so says Wikipedia.
It makes me wonder who even owns a wagon or a wheelbarrow anymore? Nowadays sleds come in plastic or… plastic. The traditional wooden toboggan of my childhood has been elevated to a specialty item. In other words, they’re too expensive.
I can’t stomach buying a plastic sled even if it’s only a couple of bucks. Especially if it’s only a couple of bucks. My days of trawling the dollar store aisles for Tupperware knock-offs and spatulas with low melting points are over. I just don’t want to buy inessentials that will ultimately end up at Robin Hood Bay.
But a girl’s got to have some fun.
So, instead of dropping three bucks on a plastic hull, my friend and I grabbed some stuff from around the house and headed to Pippy Park.
The cushion for the living room couch was no longer recognizable tied up inside the Canadian Tire bag. Cross legged I sat and pulled back on the little knotted handles. A hearty wiggle was all the encouragement needed to get started, and away I went, bouncing softly over the bumps until the moment the hill’s slope ran out. Walking up the hill I heard a woman ask her young son what I was riding on. He didn’t know either.
Next, my friend bravely climbed aboard the metal cookie tray whose last batch was still fresh in our memories. Crouched atop on two feet, knees reinforced by held arms, he took the hill like a monkey on a suicide mission. Fast he went over the well-packed track and at the first bump he launched like a jack-in-the-box. Limbs flailing like one too.
That was that. I wasn’t trying the cookie tray.
The lid to the recycling bin looked promising. It was round, smooth but for a raised center stripe, and large enough to tuck in all the body’s arms and legs. I tilted forward, then back. It wouldn’t slide. I tried repositioning on the steepest part of the hill. I power-wiggled. But no go.
Our last attempt was a long box, the packaging for a portable oil heater, crunched flat. Come to think of it the high gloss coat probably made this heater seem better than all the others on the shelf.
And it slid like a motherfucker. Tummy down, face first, I tucked my arms under my chest and shielded my eyes with my mitts. As I gathered speed I blasted over waves of ice jumps, my body bending to fill the negative space. Onward, and over the length of the field I slid to a final stop.
Suddenly, the kid and his mom whizzed passed me on their blue plastic sled, stopping another twenty feet beyond, just shy of the pond’s edge. It was if the sled had been perfectly programmed to do this.
Walking back up the hill, I acknowledged just how much of a compromise this scrap of cardboard under my arm was: it would never achieve the distance of a specially-made sled.
But it’s good enough.
ILLUSTRATION BY KIRA SHEPPARD