With Aches Comes Wisdom

Man on sled in cloud of powdery snow
Yeah, that's gonna leave a mark

When we awoke this morning the CowChows lay under a four inch thick blanket of snow. Snow brings a peace and quiet to the world that is both soothing to the nerves and invigorating to the spirit. I found myself at once wanting to be outside frolicking in the snow and inside curled beneath my own blanket near a crackling fire. Throughout the morning I chose the latter. If only I’d been smart enough to stay there.

We were just finishing up lunch when I heard the tinkling laughter of children outside. The CowChows is nestled onto the side of a fairly steep hill, and through the window I watched as a couple of neighbor kids took turns on a sled. Their laughter, falling snow, the aroma of wood fire created a moment of nostalgia and a tiny voice inside my head asked, “How long’s it been since you slid on a sled in the snow?”

“They won’t want to play with me,” I argued. “To them I’m an old man.” But, the next thing I knew I was bundled up in my coveralls, boots, gloves, cap and shuffling out into the snow. I stood off to the side and watched, feeling every bit like the kid who wants to play with the other kids’ toys but is afraid to ask. We exchanged “Hellos” and they continued to play, and all the while the little voice kept urging, “Go ahead; ask them.”

So, I did. I asked if I could ride their sled. Their stunned silence lasted only a few seconds and then they explained it was actually a “Snow Boogie” and yes, I was more than welcome to ride it. I wanted to start from higher up the hill and as we climbed to the perfect place to take-off from the little dark haired girl explained the finer points of snow-boogieing including steering and balance and safety, and I pretended to listen.

At last I said, “This is it,” primarily because I was already winded. We turned and with the excitement of a child I took two running steps and dove onto the boogie sleddy thing. As I picked up speed the years fell away and I was flooded with childlike sensations and childhood memories. The cold pinched my cheeks, my eyes filled with tears, and I could not stop smiling. I was flying down that hill and going faster by the second. At some point, though, fast became too fast.

About halfway down I was sure I’d passed the speed of sound because I could no longer hear myself screaming. I wished I’d paid more attention to the little dark haired girl when I realized I was not going to miss my neighbor’s mailbox. Luckily, my shoulder absorbed most of the blow and it hardly slowed me down at all. I caromed off the mailbox, across the snow covered road and into the ditch where we had placed several large rocks last Spring to prevent washout. Somehow my Snow Boogie stayed under me and not only skipped across the rocks but picked up speed in the process. When my eyeballs finally stopped bouncing I realized I was headed straight toward a neighbor’s truck. Rather than be decapitated, I bailed.

The world became a blur of snow covered ground and snow filled sky as I rolled over and over and over. Thankfully, a hedgerow of thorny bushes stopped my tumble. I rolled onto my back and lay there panting, and as if drifting down with the snow I heard again the laughter of children. Funny how much different it sounds when you know they’re laughing at you.

Perhaps age will eventually bring wisdom, but aches will definitely do the trick.

Cordially yours,

Tim Couch

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