It's a bright sunny day, the morning after fresh snowfall, and it's sledding day. The back yard is blanketed in smooth white. The boundaries of my kitchen window frame this winter landscape. The picture always changes, because as the years go by the characters change. The trees get taller, the skies seem bluer, the neighborhood kids get older, and newer, younger neighborhood kids replace them when they get too bored of these small hills. Today there are lines of sledding tracks running right to left across the picture.
After it snows, the neighborhood kids swarm into our back yard, the Sledding Yard, swarming and teeming with life, like so many virtual particles that always live in the vacuum of space which live unnoticed lives until conditions are right.
A neighborhood boy is lying on his sled at the foot of a tree, dazed. He was sliding down the hill next to my back yard, when his sled found that one big tree back there, where it levels off. A microsecond later his face found the center of the tree. Whoa. Full face plant. Rarely seen from this vantage point. Most kids sled close to the tree, but avoid it. Magnificent. A perfect ten. If he'd been going a little faster, I'd have been calling the ambulance about now and running outside with a towel to stanch the blood.
Now he's getting up, adjusting his knit cap, rubbing his nose. That must have hurt. He smacked right into the center of the tree, centered his face right into the fat portion. Ouch. Now he's looking up the hill. I can only imagine the other kids laughing at him.
Now they're all sledding down to inspect the damage. Knit cap comes off. Blonde hair cascades down to the jacket. There's a surprise. The he is not a he, it's a she, and she shakes her hair out, then rubs the bridge of her nose gingerly. Kimmy is one of the scrappier kids in the neighborhood. The boys gather around, admiring the ding on the bridge of her nose. They like her, that's obvious to see. This gives them an excuse to stand close to her. She's tall. They're short. They look up at her. She describes how it happened in calm, measured tones. No tears, just facts. That's why they like her. She is tough, and they can't help but respect that.
She turns around and points a gloved finger at the tree, at the point of impact. Three heads go down to take a closer look. Was there blood? Ewwwww! There's blood! That is so gross! That is so cool! There seems to be some mix of opinion about this. Gross? Cool? Grosscool, the preteen male hive mind decides. Three heads come up, and inspect Kimmy's nose again. Then they look at the tree again.
There's really only one thing left to do. They trudge up the hill, sleds in tow. Then they all sled down. And each one smashes into the tree, just like Kimmy did.