Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This month's Danvers Herald column, Sledding with my mother, has drawn several responses since its publication January 6. "You are exactly right on the hill" "we called it the big HILL." This writer goes on to mention that his mother participated in ski lessons on that hill.

Yes, I recall ski lessons there, too. Sometimes my parents gave lessons there BEFORE the snow fell. The carpet of pine needles was slippery enough on the steep side to allow skiers to move their skis and imitate skiing. The process was somewhat slow, but helpful for beginners just getting the feel of moving skis. As children, my sister and I helped by collecting more pine needles under the trees, carrying them in baskets, and spreading them out on the slope.

I also recall the popularity of saucer sleds on that hill. Those round things scared me. I didn't understand how anyone controlled them. I felt safer on a Flexible Flyer sled that I could steer. I was, as usual, timid about trying something new that looked fast and dangerous. In addition, the neighborhood kids added speed by creating a straight icy track down the steepest part of that hill. Snow had been scraped aside, revealing an icy base and leaving borders of lumpy snow. Elsewhere the old crusty snow covered the hill. I didn't want to try a saucersled, but they called me a sissy. I didn't want to be a sissy. I thought long and hard about how I could try the saucer, but not take the extreme risk of that icy track. After more taunts of "Sissy!" I gave in, but on the condition that I go down the snowy part BESIDE the track, not in the track. That's what I did. Or started to do. But the saucer wasn't in my control. It went slightly sideways, approached the track, went over the lumps beside the track, flipped over and threw me head first onto that ice. This happened just before school vacation week. My favorite cousin was coming from Maine to visit us that week. The doctor said I had a slight concussion and had to stay quietly in bed all week! That was the WORST part of this accident -- missing the fun with my cousin. I vowed NEVER to pay attention to a taunt of "Sissy!" again, and I never did.

Other hard lessons were learned on that hill. I heard from the mother of two young boys (now grown) who had encountered the barbed wire fence at the bottom of the hill. "Both boys were well aware of barbed wire but it was probably an icy day and they lost control." The older brother's chin hit the wire. He had to have several stitches, but first, before revealing his wound, he brought his 4-year-old brother safely home.

The current condition of the hill by Grandmother's Rock?
"It has overgrown now with evergreens so you would not even consider it today as an open slope."