Toboggan Hill

I had a very interesting movie like dream last night. It was a fascinating story of a single middle aged business man disillusioned by life rediscovering the child inside him.

The story opens with Logan [I didn’t dream the names by the way. I’ve added those just for narrative] leaving a group therapy session of similarly stressed, disillusioned, and depressed people. Walks out of the building onto a busy city street in winter, feeling no better than when he went in.

As he walks through the city, he recalls winter in the forested country hills as a child. The cool crisp air, the crunch of snow under foot, scents of pine trees, and the simple quiet of a winter’s day as the snow falls about him. He decides that weekend to drive into the hills once more.

Weekend comes and Logan finds himself in a mountain park land, driving slowly upwards into the snow country. The road is narrow and covered by the previous night’s snow fall, yet already showing signs of being used despite its unploughed state.

The hills are covered by all manner of trees covered in snow as though a blanket had been laid over top of them, branches piled high with snow. Logan drives slowly with his window open. The air is cool, still, and silent, the car’s engine but a low rumble as though subdued into respect for nature’s winter white tapestry.

Sounds of children can be heard ahead as he comes across a handful of cars parked at the base of slope. Stopping his vehicle, Logan gets out to watch as children and parents alike slide down a long steep slope from a point above that he cannot see. The tobogganers he notes use all manner of smooth slippery platforms large enough for a person to sit on: wooden sleds, tin garbage can tops, cardboard and plastic sheets.

He observes as the riders fall the grand slope. The snow is well packed and hard from the riders continued descents. Some glide, others careen, all whoop with joy and laughter as they come to a gentle stop or collide in clouds of white flakes into the snow bank piled high at the base.

The children regain their feet, collect their conveyance, and run off for the trail along side the slope that leads back to the top. Parents follow again at a more leisurely pace talking among themselves or calling out to their child as they swoop past at break neck speeds screaming with delight.

Logan leaves his car behind and makes for the trail up. A long series of snow covered wood and earthen steps lead upwards guided by a rope railing strung up to aid the climbers. As he ascends the trail, kids run past yelling challenges or boasting of their speed or of a spectacular crash at the finish of their previous descent.

The trail up the slope is longer than he expects and the slope has a bend in it. He notes a snow bank piled up on the outside of the bend opposite him. Some of the younger children who fail to make the turn collide with it, while some of the older ones use it like the banked curve of race track.

Finally at the top, Logan stands and watches once more as the riders prepare themselves, issue final challenges to friends or family. Some with a dare devil gleam in their eyes then run and launch themselves into space to fall with a thud in their sled gaining speed quickly. Others in twos or threes sit together and push with all their combined might at the ground with their gloved hands before gravity takes command.

Logan stands off to one side and watches for several minutes as wave after wave of riders apply themselves to the day’s task. Some huff and puff steam in the chill air as they reach the top, some with frosty brows, all with rosy cheeks.

The slope, part of a larger hill that might count as a mountain, is surrounded by similar. All about the landscape is covered by trees and snow. The day is overcast and without shadow. Time passes in silence, broken only by the sounds of the children and their guardians.

A nudge at Logan’s elbow distracts him from his reverie. He turns to focus on a man about his height. “Mister, I see you don’t have a ride. Would you like to borrow mine? I need a break for a bit after all the climbing and would be happy to lend you mine.”.

“Oh, but I couldn’t.” replies Logan.

“Go on. I’ve seen you watching the past several runs. You look like you want to have a go. Day’s almost done and I have to take Johnny home soon. I doubt I’ll do much more, so have a go for a bit yourself” says the kind man beside him.

Logan looks at the larger plastic saucer like glider in the man’s hand, then looks back up to the man’s smiling face. Smiling back in return, “Thank you.”

Taking the plastic saucer, he places it down at the edge of the slope and sits himself in it. There are to plastic straps to hold onto, but before taking hold, he starts pushing with his hands. As the cool air starts to rush into his face he hears from behind “Remember to steer the bend with your hands or feet!”

Logan quickly gains speed as gravity take hold of him. The bend in the slope approaches quickly and he tries to lean in the direction of the turn to no avail only to crash and turn over in the snow bank. Wiping the snow from his now cold wet face, Logan resettles himself in the saucer and pushes off down the second segment of the hill. Soon again the rush of air accompanied by a sudden weightless flying sensation followed by an equally sudden thump, causes Logan to lose his grip and fall out of the plastic saucer in a cloud of snow. Meanwhile the saucer proceeds down the remainder of the slope rider less.

At the bottom Logan hears the laughter of some children and their comments on his spectacular wipe out after hitting a mound of snow. Turning to look back up, Logan sees several scattered mounds on the slope he’d not observed before. He watched as many of the riders either hit and fly off to land intact and at speed, while others would navigate around.

Reclaiming the saucer, Logan returns to the trail and up once more. At the top his sees the waiting man. Holding out the saucer, Logan says “Thank you for the ride.”

“Oh. Go on. Have another few goes. You look liked you had fun, despite the wipe out. I’m not recovered just yet to go again.”

“Ok. Thanks. Not sure how well I’ll do again, but I’d like to try to get to the bottom in one piece at least once.”

Again Logan starts off down the hill gaining speed and as he approaches the bend puts out his hand behind him, like a sea anchor, and pulls himself successfully around the bend. First hurdle over come. Logan continues down the slope holding onto the straps with all his strength, gaining even more speed, passing several younger riders as his goes.

Suddenly that flying sensation, followed by a bone jarring thump. Though this time he manages to remain seated, the saucer starts to slowly spin such that he’s riding backwards. Unable to see where he’s going, Logan lets out a curse.

Briefly winded from yet another bone jarring jolt due to the sudden and immediate impact with the extremely large and immovable snow bank, Logan comments aloud to no one in particular “It’s not as easy as it looks.”

Getting to his feet with saucer in hand, Logan trots up the trail back to the top. The kind man is there smiling and as Logan approaches, the man says “Have one last run. I’ll meet you below.”

Logan watches as the man returns to the trail to descend on foot. Waiting a moment more, Logan looks around again at the scenery of forested hills under the overcast and darkening sky. Then a flake falls across his nose and his eyes focus on the light fall of snow around him.

Time to go. Placing himself in the plastic saucer once more, Logan pushes off over the gentle edge. With the cool rush of air on his face combined with moist prick of melting snow flakes, he gains speed, and as before makes a hand brake turn around the bend in the slope. Faster he descends, though this time he’s found by chance the straight line through the mounds on the hill.

He can see the bottom and the people coming and going and most of all the snow bank at the finish. Judging his speed and approach he puts out his feet and digs his heels into the snow, braking his head long decent. Coming to a full stop Logan is grinning. He sits a still for a long moment.

The kind man comes around, with his son in tow. Logan disembarks.”Looks like you’re getting the hang of it. That last run looked like you had fun.” the man comments as he take the saucer from Logan. “Name’s David Billings and this is my son Johnny”.

“Thanks. It was fun. I’m Logan McGuire” he replies smiling, and shaking the offered hand of David followed by his son. “I think I’m going to have to get me one of those.”

In the car driving home down the winding narrow road, as the snow slowly falls in the fading light of day, Logan contemplates. He remembers once more his childhood winters and feeling of physical tiredness after a day out in the fresh air. How he’d return inside, strip off his gloves, boots, snow suit, sweater; smell the wondrous odours of dinner being prepared from the kitchen; and how his mother would comment on his rosy cheeks before shooing him off to his bath. Later the long moments playing by the fireplace in his pyjama’s or sitting and looking out the large bay windows at the snow falling.

Logan once again feels that warm glow inside, then reaching up to feel his cool cheeks with an ungloved hand, he knows that today was just as good as then.

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