Reading John Ball’s story of the training bike reminded me of my Flexible Flyer story.
I was about three or four because I was definitely in Rhode Island at the time. My Mom and Dad took my new Flexible Flyer sled and me to the nearby sledding hill. There were a lot of bigger kids on the hill, but I could easily maneuver around them as I rode down on my belly.
Some kids were building a mound of snow about half way down the hill. They were building a sled jump which would make them airborne for a few seconds. I wasn’t paying much attention to them. I was too busy sledding and then pulling my sled back up the hill to my Dad. Mom had gotten cold and gone back to the car.
On my last run of the day, I put my sled down and jumped on it. Before I know it, I was heading toward the sled jump. I didn’t have any time to turn away from it. No room to maneuver. I did what any rational three or four year old would do. I closed my eyes.
With a sharp woosh of metal blades hitting soft snow, I was suddenly flying. I could feel the sled start to fall away from me, but I held on tight and made myself as flat as possible on it with my eyes closed tight.
Then with a soft sounding bang, the sled and I were on the ground, and we were still going. When I hit, the wood planks of the sled pounded hard into my chest, and that hurt. I opened my eyes and saw only red metal and white snow. I stopped the sled, and did what any three or four year old might do. I started to cry. I let out a few wails but fell back into sniffling as I pulled the sled back up the hill and back to my Dad who was slightly sympathetic but mostly smiling.
Jennifer, do you know what you did? Dad asked.
What? I asked wiping the last of the snot off my face.
All the other kids hit that mound of snow and fell off their sleds but you stayed on. You stayed on and kept going.
Oh. I said.
Come on, your mother’s probably cold. We should go. Dad said, and we left.
I’m sure I went back to that hill again although I don’t have any of memories of being there. Probably soon after, we moved from Rhode Island to Michigan.
By the way, the Flexible Flyer sled lasted through several moves and my two younger brothers. It was one indestructible sled.