February 2nd…“DO YOU HAVE ANY FUN MEMORIES OF PLAYING OR SLEDDING ON ICE?”
Mr. Moon smiled down so brightly on our winter farmlands that night that you could have sworn it was noontime by the way its ethereal glow reflected off the pureness of the snow. The night air was pristine in its frigid beauty and not a breath of wind stirred for miles.
Always in the mood for fun, our eldest brother, Lowell, had an idea to have a nighttime outing in the snow. Little sister, Candi, and I gladly accepted the chance to spend time with our hero brother and one of his good buddies, Jimmie Kephart, who lived on the farm next to us.
Brother Lowell had a 1957 Ford Fairlane that was a real dream machine (as far as I was concerned) so the four of us “sled sleuths” piled into that blue powerhouse with great anticipation, for on this brilliant night excursion, it was to be our chariot to enjoy slippin’, slidin’ and sleddin’!! Lowell turned over the ignition key on that Ford and brought that purring engine to life. Next thing you know, those chained up snow tires crunched a happy sound into the frozen drifts of our yard as we spun out of the south driveway, over the gravel road, and up to Chet Ozmun’s farm and tall hill.
The Ozmun’s farm house porch light popped on as Chet Ozmun responded to Lowell’s knock on their door. After customary greetings and chatting, we received the Chet’s blessings to be on their property and climb to the top of their hill for sledding under the moon’s happy light. Our anticipation was a bit stunted, though, because the snow up on the hill that night was just not compacted enough to allow for any decent speeds of sled fun. There was too much mangled grass beneath the snow and it kept bogging down our efforts for playtime. Even though the sledding wasn’t too good, we DID revel in the majestic blue hue of the farmlands below us. What an amazing vista of glittering fields sleeping in their winter’s rest of that snow-blanketed night. Someone blurted out an idea, “Heyyyyy, let’s drive down to the bridge over Brush Creek and go sledding on the ice!!!” In a blink, we all ran back to the Ford and in just a few minutes we were at the frozen creek that ran west to east at the southern border of our farm property. The change of frozen scenery was grand fun as we began slipping our way down the snow-encrusted creek banks to our new venue of nighttime adventures. Sure enough, the ice-covered creek by the light of a winter’s full moon was a childhood ecstasy to enjoy!
First, we shared the sled for single person runs on that glazed ribbon of frozen water. Then, the muscles of our elder brother and his buddy provided little sister and I sled rides where they’d even play “crack the whip” with us hanging on for life as their centrifugal motions almost made us airborne. Our laughter in that violet night was captured in the frigid air around us in frozen “puffs” from our mouths as we huffed and wheezed our way throughout that joyous ebony evening.
My joy was temporarily interrupted by a moment of potential icy terror for me. You see, our brother’s buddy, Jimmie, was a husky teenager and he decided that he was going to take the sled and do a run ending in a “belly flop” on top of that wooden and steel contraption. Bone chilling and deadly was the water beneath the ice that night and Jimmie was not a “Slim Jim”. With sled in hand, he trotted a short distance on the ice and then launched his body into the air and came down on top of the sled with a mighty KAWHUMP!!! My eyes were as big as dinner plates as I heard the concussion of his fall and saw the ice crack in all directions!! You could see the fissures sparking out from his contact point and all I could think of, in my panicked little boy mind, was that we were all going to collapse into the deadly ice water below and freeze to death!! Thankfully, my fears were unsubstantiated and with a sigh of relief, nothing happened. Just for safety, though, I kept my distance from that cracked area of ice for the rest of that wonderful night of icy fun memories for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.