December 4th…“WHAT WAS A UNIQUE SNOW-RELATED FUN EXPERIENCE ON YOUR FAMILY FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”
Each year, after the harvest, our rich farm soil “bedded down” with Old Man Winter’s thick quilt of snow and enjoyed the opportunity for having a regenerative rest during the long, cold months ahead. Even though the land rested, we kids enjoyed an opportunity, as well, only it was the opportunity to be active with fun that came to us in any chilly way, shape or form.
One very frosty afternoon, being fully bundled up against the frigid weather, I was exploring inside the wrap-around machine shed, there on our farm. This machine shed wrapped around on the north and west sides of our granary building that housed the majority of food for our many farm animals. As vapors of my hot breath launched against the cold air around me, I relished the chance to explore what treasures just might be lurking in Dad’s stash of old parts and whatnots. Low and behold, as I scrummaged around inside there, I was thrilled to discover some very old wooden snow skis!! Up to this point, in life, I had only seen snow skis being worn by world-class skiers on the television show called, “ABC’s Wide World Of Sports”. Those consummate mountain daredevils came soaring down those steep slopes on their sleek skis at breakneck speeds. Many of those fine downhill racers were from my ancestral country of Norway, too! Maybe I could become just like my “cousins” in learning to ski someday. Now, here in my mitten-clad hands were a pair of these sliding devices for my very own! Only one little problem I could see…..there were no clamping devices to get these magic marvels to connect to my rubber Winter boots.
I had heard that “necessity is the mother of invention”. This childhood dilemma was a real “necessity” before me and I think I had the “invention” that would work, as far as connecting these wood rockets to my boots. Baling twine. Dad had a bunch of twine leftover from last Summer’s hay baling (twine was used to tie the hay into a rectangular cube), so I grabbed a supply from nearby our “New Holland” hay-baler machine and cut off a couple of long lengths. Upon closer inspection, I then noticed that there actually were some openings in the skis under where my boots would stand, so, with exhilarated new hopes, I threaded the twine through those openings and proceeded to lock-down these new boy’s toys to my rubber boots. Heyyy, this seemed to work; for the most part, at least. After shuffling, shushing and sliding around the flat snow surfaces of our farmyard, I just had to have a faster experience and more fun. On television, I had seen the skiers “wax” their skis for more speed. Since I had no such fancy ski wax, I figured I’d use one of my mother’s bars of soap, instead. Rub, rub, rub went that bar of soap, up and down the bottoms of those ancient wooden skis.
Now that my skis were prepared for speed, I needed a “mountain”. Well, the only place near us that had any kind of slope was the hillside to our east that belonged to our neighbor farmer, Charlie Heitzeg. I hoped that Charlie wouldn’t mind if I crossed his property and played for a little while on his “hill”. To preserve my newly applied “wax”, I tossed my skis over my shoulder and began the hike across the county gravel road, down the ditch and over the Heitzeg’s family fence-line. An old adage says, “If it looks too good to be true, it usually isn’t”……true, that is. I was gonna experience that axiom out for myself, shortly. Our wintry season had layered Heitzeg’s field with a thick, “smooth-looking” layer of snow. I trudged across the level field and then began my ascent to the top of “Heitzeg’s Hill”….be it as high as it may. As far as my eyes could see the lovely countryside from up there, the thick, white-phosphorous snow contrasted beautifully against our sapphire-blue Minnesota sky.
As I crested the top of that hill, I was pumped with delusional and phantasmagorical apparitions that I was about to become the immediate world champion downhill skier. Yah, right!!! 😉
Down came those ancient slivers of wood from my shoulders and I climbed aboard. Oooooo, I can feel that the earlier soap rub was making these hopeful fliers even slipperier. Out came the baling twine from my pockets as I yanked off my mittens to be able to use my bare hands to tie my rubber boots as securely as possible to these “wood rockets”. O.k., all tied on. As you recall, I had found skis, but NOT ski poles. It was up to my young balance to keep me in the upright position.
“All right, ladies and gentlemen,” says the imaginary sportscaster in my egocentric brain. “Noodles Norski is at the top of his mountain, and has aimed his skis straight down the slope!” “He pushes off and gravity is now under control!” The imaginary announcer steps up the adrenaline to the audience….. “Yes, yes, he’s going faster and faster, sports fans!!” “But, what’s this? A plowed field is hidden in the snow at the bottom of the hill? WATCH OUT!!!” CRASH!!!! I face-planted right into a mass of frozen, rock-hard, plowed dirt at the base of the hill!!! It had been hidden under the seemingly “smooth blanket” of snow. Oh well…..besides, I would’ve had no way of knowing how to stop those greasy sticks of wood anyways. Wow! what an abrupt ending to the career of skiing for “Noodles Norski”!!!
But, heyyyy, it was STILL a lot of fun for this snow crash victim of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son!! 😉