Sledding on Thick Ice

I grew up in that winter wonderland that is New York. In honor of the current blizzard, here’s an old cautionary tale:

‘Twas my sophomore year in college. I visited the grandparents in sunny Florida during Christmas break, but ultimately returned to the harsh New York winter weather. Mere minutes after returning my old buddies called and convinced me to go late-night sledding down the slopes behind our former high school – an offer I couldn’t resist.

I met them there, and we did a few runs trudging up the hill and zooming back down. We quickly grew bored of this activity. One friend discovered the pavement path beside the tennis courts was completely frozen which made for much more interesting sledding. Why interesting? Well, the ice enabled us to achieve incredible velocities, but more so the path led to a long flight of stairs descending to the soccer field below. We made a game of going as fast as possible, and then somehow stopping ourselves at the last possible moment to avoid falling over the brink to our doom. Brilliant.

On my third or fourth attempt I panicked or miscalculated and failed to stop the sled in time, and right over the edge I flew. The high pitched scraping of metal against ice beneath me turned to eerie silence as I entered the air, soaring above scores of cold, hard, wooden steps.

I eventually returned to earth, smacking against the stairs with the sled still beneath me hardly cushioning the blow. Then I bounced back up into the dark, empty sky. These painful iterations continued every twenty feet or so until I finally landed the field below. Now out of my clutches, the sled rich with momentum continued to glide on its own beyond the soccer goals as I laid there in shock.

My friends eventually arrived at the scene, pointing at my crumpled body and tittering. Between stifled laughs they asked, “Are you okay?” I apparently managed to avoid serious injury, though my ribs were quite sore for a while hence.

About Matt Lebofsky

Musician wearing many hats. Played in a bunch of bands, toured in hundreds of cities around the planet. Also a general geek who works on several of the world's biggest scientific projects searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. Grew up in suburban NYC. Now lives in Oakland, CA.
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