About the Author
  • Anne has worked in agriculture since she was old enough to sweep the floor of the family machine shed. She writes about rural & outdoor life from the most remote county seat in the Lower 48, where she and her husband chase two children. Her experience ranges from picking apricots in 100 degree weather and working with Hutterite colonies, to discussing ag trade with the Ambassador of New Zealand and judging cured meats.
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Runner Sleds and Sheep Sheds

by Anne_Miller_mt on ‎12-13-2013 03:48 PM

     It is Christmas season at our house, which means that the 14 foot tall tree decorated fully with lights and ornaments has already tried to fall down several times. The spare bedroom is full of gifts-in-hiding that I truly hope to find later. And I’ve swapped over to a higher caffeine version of our favorite coffee brand. And yet, in all the chaos, I love every minute of the festive season.

 

Miller Family Tree.jpg


     As a child, our holidays at the ranch were marked with massive sledding parties. Living on top of an exceptionally tall hill had its advantages. With correct planning, the ride would last almost 15 minutes and resembled a pinball machine with live humans. Down the hill, dodging the sheep shed at the bottom and aiming for the driveway….you steered the sled carefully to avoid an unsettling dump into the culvert on either side. Assuming that went well, the next adventure was negotiating a righthand hairpin turn. After that, the creek below my grandparents’ house.


     Yes, I said creek. Running with at least 5 inches of water in its crossing year-round, the water body simply invited bravery. It would have been pure logic to call my grandmother, whose house had a bird’s eye view of the area, to get a report on the ice levels. But no…. that would have been foolish. Instead my brothers and I drew straws, er sticks, at the top of the hill to see who had the honor of the first run. There was excitement in every turn when the end of the ride was to either result in a gleeful glide across perfect ice or completely soaked snow pants.


     To say my mother didn’t pace in front of her picture windows, watching for potential carnage would be a lie. But regardless of how many nails she chewed completely off as a spectator, whenever we arrived back
at the house (either soaking wet or completely dry), there was always a smile and hot chocolate. Just the same as my grandmother did for her. 


     In one of my magazines this month, a reader had submitted the picture of a runner sled like ours, wondering its worth. It had received a hearty $1,500 estimate. But to me, if it still corners well and runs smoothly, it’s simply priceless.

Comments
by mloc0277
on ‎12-29-2013 08:44 PM

While we didn't have runner sled, instead wooden toboggans and plastic sleds, many memories were made, just as your family.  You have such a way of putting this into words.  My mom always had hot chocolate for us, usually with homemade buns.

 

by Anne_Miller_mt
‎12-29-2013 09:39 PM - edited ‎12-30-2013 12:58 PM

mloc0277 - Thank you so much for the kind words and I'm glad so many others were racing down the slopes in their childhoods. We used plastic sleds as well and once, under very poor judgement, tried a steel snow shovel. It didn't go well but my scar healed nicely. Merry Christmas to your family from ours!