We've had a lot of snow here in Astoria this winter. Actually, we've had a lot of snow just in the month of January. On the streets, this can turn into disgusting mayhem, but the parks of the city remain a winter wonderland. I'd taken a long coffee break last week with some co-workers to make snow angels in the park and watch the dogs frolic in the dog run with their lucky, happy owners-who-don't-have-day-jobs. However, a 10-minute romp through Madison Square Park does not a true snow day make, so Saturday I journeyed to Central Park to partake in the oldest, and only slightly reckless, snow-day pastime: sledding.
I've shown pictures of the mall in all different seasons on my blog, so this seems fitting.
My boyfriend and I approached the park woefully unprepared. I don't just mean we were wearing non-snow-repellent jeans and cloth (well, I was anyway) coats; we also didn't bring a sled. We figured this could be easily rectified once we got into the park. After all, people had to tire eventually and abandon their cheap plastic discs at some point, right? We even thought people might try selling them in the park to make a good business. After all, when it starts to rain in New York people instantly grow out of the sidewalk, as if water-activated, to sell cheap umbrellas at inflated prices.
This theory was almost immediately validated when we passed our first sledding hill. A mostly toothless man, noting our wistful looks at the gleeful sledding children asked us if we'd like a sled. We note the sled is missing a large chunk, but the man says it's only $2, which seems like a pretty good deal. We figure we can just abandon it later after using it. We head up the hill for our first ride, only once we get there, we determine that it's not so great a hill. There are too many kids, and it's fairly short, and not really that steep. There are better hills out there we are determined to find one.
We've leisurely walked maybe 100 feet from the original hill and started to discuss what a surprisingly good deal it was for the sled. Sure, it's broken, but by New York standards, a broken piece of plastic for under $5 is still pretty good. Just as we're musing over our luck, there's a tug on the sled. The sled's former owner is yelling at us about stealing his sled. Apparently, when he asked us if we wanted a sled, he meant a sled ride. This crucial distinction meant he'd chased up all the way up the hill and down the sidewalk when he saw us nonchalantly absconding with his sled. Suddenly, everything makes more sense. The now fairly angry toothless man runs back to his hill with his sled and my boyfriend and I are left with the realization that we are out $2 and didn't even get to sled.
We finally found the perfect hill: icy and slick, tall, and with hay bales against all the trees and more dangerous barriers. We inspected the ground for abandoned sleds, but found only impromptu sleds of soggy cardboard. This was not a hill for amateur sledding. It looked like so much fun though that we continued our quest by leaving the park and journeying into the Upper East Side. A short 15 minute walk later and we'd found a fancy toy store that sold disc sleds.
Back at the original sledding hill, I realized I was more scared of sledding than I thought. Not so much the actual sledding as the possibility of careening into one of the many kids. They were so chaotic, and I so feared being sued by one of their parents. Thus after only a few runs, we went in search of a less occupied hill. We eventually found one that was short, but still an excellent sledding hill. Growing up with a snow-less childhood in coastal Texas, I am not a natural sledder. Nearing the bottom of the hill, if there are any trees in my periphery, I have flashes of Sonny Bono and immediately go rolling off the sled into the snow rather than risk a high speed crash. Yet amazingly this entire day resulted in no major injuries, to myself or to any children in my vicinity. Now that's how you spend a snow day.
There I am--sledding like a pro. Causing no harm to people or trees around me.