I listen to the conversation as the van carried us up the hills that cold December afternoon. I must confess that I was going along, not because of my desire but just to please the others who were bent on getting wet and cold in the snow.
I allowed my mind to drift, remembering the many times I rode a truck inner tube down the steep hill where we used to live. My one thought always was hoping to make the proper turn at the bottom and thus avoid going into the creek. I remembered the last time for this, the time I flipped and landed on my head and my doctor ordered me to stay off the snow bank and no work for the rest of the week.
I was legally blind, but back then I could still see and sledding was fun.
On this December afternoon, however, I was not so sure about doing any sledding. Was it age or was it fear because I couldn’t see at all? Maybe it was a mixture of both.
But there are times one has to step out, even if he really doesn’t want to, and this was that time.
“The snow is falling fast and thick, I can hardly see a few car lengths ahead,” my son said. “Shouldn’t we turn around and forget going up higher?”
“Looks bad to me,” said another voice, and so the conversation went as I rode along and waited for the tires to start skidding.
The van stopped behind our friend who was guiding us, and after a chat it was decided to turn around and retrace our tracks a couple miles back and not go on to the well-known sledding area. Instead, we would stop at a place we hoped we could “play.”
The wet snow was falling hard, but more than that was the blowing wind that shot the snow sideways across the landscape.
Stopping the van we made ready to get cold and wet.
I resisted the thought to remain in the van, for I knew that very soon inside it would also be very cold inside it. So I climbed out and immediately the wind and pelting snow nearly forced me back in. But as the younger ones were anxious to “get cold,” I pulled on my covering of excitement and joined the others as we crossed the highway.
Suddenly we appeared to shrink as we sank nearly two feet into the snow bank. Step by step we would pull one foot out and up just to sink in again. Oh what a “great” feeling as snow slid into our boots.
On this slope, unknown to me, I had to hold on to another person or not find my way. After 25 feet or so we reached a slightly more protected area where the snow was around a foot deep. There I planned to wait while the others enjoyed their play; already their laughter and squeals raced across the gentle slope.
“Your turn,” I was ordered. Unable to resist, I felt myself being helped — or was I being pulled up to where the sled would start to carry me down.
The slope was not steep and the snow still not packed down well, so the sled would not slide. So my son pulled the sled with me in it down the hill. Though I couldn’t have been going very fast, still being pulled around trees and nearly dumped out at each sharp corner did give a little excitement.
The sled tipped way over on its right edge and my shoulder was rubbing the snow, but with forced effort I righted myself only to repeat this at the next tree, this time tipping the opposite direction.
Well, I survived that ride to write about it. I thought the others should each have a ride like I had with their eyes closed but no one would close theirs; they thought they had to see.
Now, in case you’ve never tried it, join your friends on a sledding ride. Before you climb on make sure you have a blindfold around your head to completely cover your eyes. Only after you can’t see a thing should you start the sled ride; you will gain, I assure you, a complete different picture of life.
For a little more spice, plan for a steeper hill and also have a jump. You will be thrilled to have the blowing snow blast your face as the sled makes a sharp turn as it follows the path.
One gains a new perception of life flying down a snowy hill with blindfolded eyes.
Not being able to see doesn’t mean you can’t get out and explore life. Though sometimes we must be sort of forced out, afterward we will be glad for the nudge.
Blindness need not rob you of enjoying life, even if at times what others want you to do seems impossible.
Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.