There are some days I have wondered how the heck I’ve managed to survive my childhood.
Ever had those thoughts?
It was March when a major storm blanketed the area with nearly two feet of snow.
School was cancelled.
My sister was little which meant I must have been around twelve.
The storm raged all day long before finally tapering off by nightfall.
We’d lost power so our parents made us all go to bed early.
The window of my bedroom was at ground level.
Sometime after midnight, I heard a rap on it.
It was two kids from a few miles up the road.
My cousin, Steve and his neighbor, Phil.
They were bored and wanted to have some fun in the snow.
The moon was out and with the new snow, everything had this eerie luminescent glow.
This was a period in my life when I still retained my night vision.
My house was in a rural residential section of town. On the street (which was on the hilly side) around my house were several other houses spaced within half mile of one another.
The road was your typical rural road. Two-lane. No shoulder which meant no one parked along the roadside.
Woods surrounded us.
The streetlights are few and far between.
I got dressed and snuck out the back door and met them at the end of my long driveway.
The boys were dressed in dark clothes as I.
Steve was a year younger and Phil just turned ten. I stood nearly a head taller than both.
We walked maybe half mile down until we reached a sharp bend in the road.
Above the bend we trekked up a long gradual hill and met yet another boy, Greg, who was Phil’s age.
He stood ready with two sleds.
We paired off for each sled and slid down the hill.
The bend acted as a ramp which we jumped and continued across the road and down another short hill that abruptly ended as we glided over ice of the Ausable River.
We did this two more times.
On the third round, we rotated so I got in the sled with Phil.
I noticed something.
A flickering light in the distance.
“Hey, what’s that?”
He looked and shrugged. “Dunno, maybe someone’s up.”
Without giving it another thought, he and I pushed and away we went with the other sled tailing close behind.
We were halfway down the first hill when we realized that it wasn’t a light from a house.
It was a snowplow.
The driver had no clue we were out there – about to leap the bend and onto the road.
Directly in front of the yellow beast mobile.
Phil screamed in my right ear, and I could hear the other two yelling and cursing.
We were going too fast to stop.
I remember hearing the scraping of the steel blade across the icy road.
That sound still echoes through my head.
The next thing I knew our sled was tumbling as I rolled and rolled.
Something slammed into me just as a loud whooshing sounded and I was suddenly buried in snow.
For what felt like an eternity, I couldn’t move.
Until my right foot kicked free, and I crawled out backwards.
Phil was helping Steve dig out Greg who was buried in snow up to his waist.
I can remember thinking that he blatted like a sheep.
I looked and watched the snowplow disappear down the road – the driver still oblivious as to what had just occurred.
Several moments later, we stood and stared at the newly formed mound of snow that now covered the bend.
We somehow stopped just short of going over it.
Sheer dumb luck.