I stomp and the snow and ice crust crackles and creaks beneath my boots. Extensions of Wildebeest feet taking me down the road and ready for adventure. My friend Jenny is waiting on the corner. She is all shifting feet fidgety and ready to roll with her Dad's gloves 3 sizes too big swinging off her hands. Steam is floating around my face - the deep cold has settled. Ice is twinkling from every tree limb. They look sparkly and trim and ready for spring. I'm tugging a plastic sled behind me, slung over my shoulders is an ancient steel thermos loaded with hot chocolate, a wool army blanket, and a small shovel I nicked from the trunk of my parents car - 'trunk or treat'! Jenny waves an aggressive 'hurry'. The park is still ten minutes away.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
Jenny is my BFF. We've been friends since the first grade all awkward, shy, and unaware. And here we are so many years later reignited. I hurry my pace, the crunch now a freight train or an ice breaker bursting through a metric ton of pack ice. Our goal is Suicide Hill. As far as I know no one has ever committed suicide there no matter how aggressively they throw themselves down it. The name embodies the thrill of the steep - people, random runaway dogs, ice pellets falling from a hundred enveloping trees. The 1001 dangers of "Suicide Hill".
We first rode Suicide Hill in one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record. Snow piled so high you could tunnel into the drifts and make snow caves. The snow caves of suburbia. Thousands of kids united in 'freezing ones ass off' buried in their caves. With so much snow Suicide Hill softened but was no less thrilling. It was tamed in the sense that you could fly down the hill, and instead of running into icy pavement you would land in a 10 foot tall fluffy snowbank. At the same time it was even more suicidal with enormous jumps built by the adrenaline junkies. That winter the hill was all blood curdling screams as kids launched their rusty red saucers and plastic platters over the jumps. Thud, thud, thud. Higher, faster, running start, etc. "I DARE YOU!" Laughter, yelling, more screaming. There was never a gray day on Suicide Hill.
That was then and this is now. Severe clear, aching cold wind howling and only enough snow and hard pack to make Suicide Hill its true beastly self. Jenny and I hugged at the top, and laughed with nervous tension. We walked to the edge, sat on our brightly colored sleds, held our breath, and launched…. Screaming like the first time, the last time, and like every time we survived.