|One of the activities that I miss the most since I grew up and moved south is going sleigh riding. I’ve mentioned before that I grew up on a farm in southern Ohio. We had two driveways, one that led up to the house of course, and the other that led up to the barn. Our house and barn were located on the top of a small hill with a gradual incline down to the road. Whether going to the left or to the right out of the driveways you immediately had to start going uphill. I think you get the picture.
Anyhow, when we were younger, nothing gave my siblings and me more countless hours of enjoyment than an old boring piece of plastic. The neighborhood kids would always come to our house because we lived on top of a hill. Plus, our parents were usually at work. Riding the piece of plastic down the hill was especially dangerous. There was a fence at the bottom that separated the field from the creek. But, there was a couple of bumps near the bottom of the hill that if you hit them just right you could go flying over the fence and into the creek. This amazing feat happened to the MA Fat Woman on more than one occasion and was always accompanied by shouts of “AIRBORNE” from the barnyard animals and visiting neighborhood children. Most times though, we just plowed into the fence at the bottom and hoped the barbed wire wouldn’t cut us as we disengaged ourselves from the fence. Honestly, I shredded my fair share of mittens to say the least and I do have a couple of faint scars from barbed wire puncture wounds.
As I grew older, the allure of Cherry Fork Road began to call. For Christmas that year, I had gotten a real sled, the kind on metal gliders that could be steered by hand. Oh, my goodness, it was a beauty. The directions told me to use wax and rub the blades until you could see your reflection in them. The better the blades were waxed, the faster the sled would go. That’s what the instructions said anyway. Now, all I needed was some snow.
It finally snowed enough sometime late in January to give the new sled a test run. There are several ways to ride the classic flyer sled. You can sit down on it and have others give you a push. If you are a little adventuresome, you can lie down and have others help you out by giving you a shove. But, the best way to get going is to get a running start, jump on it and then hold on for dear life. On more than one occasion, I landed with a thud as the sled darted out from under me or I ran into the ditch because I couldn’t steer it properly.
Everyone was having loads of fun with the new sled until the day we almost got run over by the snow plow. After that, no more riding on the road. We tried to ride down the hill in the field but the blades always got stuck in the high grass. One day, my little friend, who was considerably younger and smaller than me was complaining because we couldn’t ride the sled any longer. Suddenly, I had an idea. I would lie down on the sled first and then my friend would get on my back facing the opposite direction to watch for cars. It was brilliant! Dad didn’t think so. He thought we were just being annoying. No riding the sled on the road; it was too dangerous. After huddling for a few days, we came up with a slightly better version of our plan. We would do everything just the same, except for the time of day. We were going to go sleigh riding at night. We took the new plan to Dad who thought we were both nuts. He approved it and we made plans for the next evening.
It was a clear cold night. The waxing moon gave us just enough light to see where we were going. I got on the sled first and then my friend piled on top facing the opposite direction. We checked for cars and then shoved off. The sled took off and down we went screaming and laughing the whole way. We made it halfway up the next hill and we both jumped up and ran the rest of the way up the hill. I don’t know how long we rode the sled that night on Cherry Fork Road but mom had to come out and get us. I do remember it being a lot of fun and we rode the sled that way for several years.
Riding a sled, in the dark, on Cherry Fork Road is one of my favorite memories from life on the farm. With the recent weather the north is having, it might just be the time to find that old flyer and soap up the blades. It’s been 30 years since I have been on a sled; I bet I could teach my niece a thing or two.