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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Creating Family Memories: The Snow Day

In some locales, a snowy day is a fact of life come wintertime. But do you live in an area where a fresh dusting of snow still creates awe? And a fresh deluge of snow calls for time off from school?

Yesterday, New York City had its first official “snow day” in five years, with public schools closing and kids jumping for joy. Naturally, this causes tremendous anxiety and scheduling nightmares for parents working outside of the home. It also brings about multiplied traffic accidents and pedestrians slipping on the ice, breaking legs, ankles, or noggins. But in a perfect world, all would come to a grinding halt and parents and children could enjoy nature’s beauty from the safe and toasty confines of home.

I live in that perfect world. A big snowstorm blew through our area and we decided to embrace it, celebrate it:  two adults, two kids, two dogs. My first order of the day was to start a huge pot of soup simmering, full of rich veggies and chicken, it became more of a stew: thick, luscious, fragrantly delicious. Accompanied by a long baguette which Benedetto ripped into chunks:  petite for me, more generous for himself and two growing boys.

Our sons helped elderly neighbors shovel out, before turning their sights toward snowball battles and other important youthful endeavors. The dogs came and went, encrusted by snowy dreadlocks caking their long hair, loving every minute of bounding over snowdrifts. Both boys and dogs would need tending to, and toweling off, before they took their red cheeks back outside.

My own style tended more toward an apres-ski mentality, drinking cocoa around the roaring fire. But with children, I needed to think of them and the family memories that would last a lifetime. Would my spot be absent in the family fun times?

And so there I was, pulling on boots and coat, scarf and gloves, with the rest of them. We were headed, believe it or not, for the local sledding hill, a place where locals discussed law suits and liabilities as the hill ended, eventually, in a chain link fence. Picturesque otherwise. A definite corner of urban tranquility, where kids and adults of any age were welcome.

The idea was to bail out by the bottom of the hill. Most of the young people slowed on their own. By the time I got there, later in the day, the hill was becoming icy through repeated use. It was difficult to scale the north face, I might as well have set up base camp, but Benedetto hauled me to the summit. From there, we launched Petya and Pasha on dozens of successful runs in luge-like conditions. They were seen hauling loose snow to make a couple of mounded jumps along the way. I shook my finger at them from afar.

At day’s end, we heard the pot of stew and roaring fire calling us. The sun started its slow descent and a howling arctic air whipped drifting snow into our faces. My one question: how would I descend the summit? The boys insisted that I use one of their sleds to have a leisurely ride, or slide, as the case may be.

Onto Pasha’s plastic board they stuffed me. The fact that it had tongues of fire painted on its design, raised speed issues, but before I could protest, Benedetto gave me a helpful push in the right direction, which sufficiently destabilized me and sent me straight down the hill backwards.

Every law of gravity, relativity, and imbecility came into play, simultaneously. The heavens were in alignment and so was I. I was aligned squarely for the suicide sled jumps my own sons had constructed. The first one I hit sideways, the second one I hit directly backwards. Both gave me lift and speed that I did not require nor did I seek. I’m sure that the gathered crowds gasped at the spectacle before them.

“Ma-maaaa!!!” screamed Petya, nearby on my hair-raising whoosh past him. “Use your feet! Try to stoppp!!!”

And with that, I threw my feet overboard, dragging them behind me, my short boots acting as snow scoops and doing very little to slow my rapid descent. Houston, we have a problem. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the chain link fence looming before:  CRASH!!! I hit it like a mosquito on the windshield at 70 miles per hour.

My boots half-off, hat askew, covered in fine powder, and back probably permanently imprinted with a small diamond pattern, the three guys came running to my rescue.

“Are you okay?”

“Umm, no….”

But once home, and all warmed up with showers and pajamas, safely in front of the fire, sipping soup and cuddling with the dogs, Petya falls asleep on one couch under a shearling throw. Pasha sits near our feet, hugging our legs and saying, “I love you, Mama. I love you, Papa.”  The dogs snore and awaken only when there is a loud pop of cracking wood in the fireplace.

Life is good. Memory-making is worth whatever small effort is expended.



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