Sometimes, memories come so suddenly and so strongly, they hit you like an avalanche.
Last week, the weather forecast, promising snow, transported me, despite the dreary nature of my car journey, back to being a small child, on a rare snow day with my family. We had a red sledge.
I remembered the red sledge. It was made of wood, fire engine red, painted in gloss paint (the type that smelt even years later) and I remember running my fingers over the ridges of the drip marks. It was a boxy shape with a seat and a rope to steer with. It was heavy and had two shiny runners.
My dad made it. He MADE it. From scratch.
Now, I remembered lots of little things from that day. The balls of snow that stuck to my gloves. The stinging of my cheeks when snow hit them. My sister’s pink little face. The fact the hill seemed so, so long and big. Wanting to go home, but wanting to stay there.
Straight away, I needed to text my dad. All I wanted to do was thank him. I had to tell him that I remembered the sledge, the snow day, the fact we were there and we did it and we were all together. I can’t make anything. Nothing. But my dad made us a flipping sledge. He says it wasn’t very good and was too heavy in light snow. But that’s not what I remember and I don’t care anyway.
So, I decided then and there that if, some 35 years later, that memory made me feel so loved and gave me such a rush of admiration for both my parents, that I would try to give my own children some happy, snowy times.
I ordered a cheap plastic sledge on Amazon, just in case the snow did come. I chose the red one.
The snow came, almost a foot of it. In our enclave of Mendip-clinging outer Bristol, it gave us no choice but to embrace it. We joined our neighbours for an absolutely joyous morning of snow capers, hot chocolate, drying gloves and screaming encouragement on a speedy slope above our houses.
Everybody laughed. Every child cried at some point. I cracked the cheap red child’s sledge with my backside but felt no shame. Watching my daughter speeding down the hill safe in the arms of our neighbours, and hearing the happiness and excitement everybody shared, and the look on the dog’s face as he came flapping towards me faster than his legs could carry him. More memories for me and I hope, first snow memories for Tibbs.
Thanks again to my Dad, and my mum, and my sister. Snow is rare in these parts, and the parts where I grew up. So those memories are rarer still.
Here’s to the red sledge(s).