We never ventured onto Lockwood’s Hill during the summertime, but once the first crunchy layer of white coated its slopes, we knew the witch was snowbound and we would have the place to ourselves. Then out of the garage would come the wooden Flyers and the sounds of singing runners echoed again through the winter air.

Probably one of the few land uprisings of any proportion in the entire city of Buffalo, NY, Lockwood’s Hill still crouches low between Downing St. and Dorrance near the Lackawanna city line. But although the old dirt road still runs up past the water town and the ancient house, streets have been carved into the sides where we spent so much of our childhood winters.

There never really was a witch who occupied that Victorian dwelling on the crest of the hill, but rumors were rampant. The mere thought of coming to a toe-to-toe meeting with Old Annie deep in the woods was enough to keep me away. There were, however, a few devil-may-cares who scorned the relative safety of the windswept slope in order to attempt a slalom run through the trees, often ending in a bone-jarring collision with a sturdy oak.

The hill was good enough for me. Taking a good lengthy run off the top, I’d flop down on my outstretched sled and careen madly down, wind singing in my ears and a spray of snow blinding all vision. A good run was one that ended in a low soggy place near the sidewalk on Downing St., and although it might result in a soaked mitten or boot, that was the ultimate. One could literally go no further.

One winter, someone built an ice slide. It was slick and bumpy and extremely dangerous, but it eliminated the problem of dragging your sled back up the steep and slippery incline. As I recall, it was given a coating of ashes after a near fatality. There was also a group of madcaps who actually had skis! They were usually older boys, but occasionally girls, and they constructed small jumps to test their skills. For the reset of us, though, sleds were fine. They were a lot easier to steer than today’s molded plastic or inflatable tubes.

What I remember most of all was the six block walk back home, after darkness had fallen, though silvery mica crystals of snow. Tired, hungry, and cold, thoughts ran on ahead to a warm house, a welcoming family, a hot meal of mashed baked potato and carrots, and a quiet evening around the radio.

Although we didn’t know each other then, Pat and I had actually zipped down the same hill, possibly passing each other or narrowly avoiding a collision halfway down. We walked through that same winter air to different houses, but to the same feelings of warmth and belonging. Every age has its simple pleasures. I doubt if they’re any different now for our own children and grandchildren. It only seems that way.

A few weeks ago, while driving home, Pat said he had a sudden urge to grab me and a sled and head over to the hill at Beartown. My first thought when he mentioned this was a deep shudder. Then I thought about it. True, a few years had gone since that last bellyflop on Lockwood’s Hill and we were too fond of our bones to risk that again. But did it mean we were too old for a little fun? Not on your life!


A Piece from the Scrapbag

Before we’re even finished dealing with the train wreck that was last year’s New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to make more. Or again, as it were. What possesses us to set ourselves up for failure every January 1? It most assuredly has something to do with hope. Hope that one of these days, one of these years, one of these decades, we can affect some meaningful change in our lives. Nothing wrong with hope. Here, therefore, is my list for 2010.

1. Run the Boston Marathon
2. Bring about world peace
3. Make every deadline for the Spirit of Bainbridge
4. Eat healthy, exercise more, lose weight (yadayadayada)
5. Finish my novel
6. Keep up with my blog
7. Grow a bigger pumpkin
8. Go gray
9. Read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
10. Regularly check myself for breast cancer

Now, as every politician and diplomat (is there a difference?) knows, it’s always best to have a fallback position—something you can live with in the event you don’t get exactly what you want.

1. I probably won’t even visit Boston, much less run there. Last summer, I did start trotting from the park path to my back door, a distance of about 60 yards, about half uphill. It took me a few weeks to work up to it, but I finally made it. It wasn’t pretty, and took me an equal amount of time to catch my breath, but I didn’t die. That I know of. The beauty of this resolution is that I can wait a few weeks until the snow goes away and the weather warms up a bit.
2. I’m pushing things a bit here, I know, but I (and definitely my husband) will be happy if I learn to hold my tongue instead of informing him that OF COURSE THE PEANUT BUTTER IS IN THE CUPBOARD. IT’S BEEN THERE FOR 16 YEARS, FOR PETE’S SAKE!
3. Anne will love me for this and I’m really going to try. Hey, I’m one for one already!
4. This is fuzzy enough that if I have a carrot stick, walk to the mailbox, and pass up that chocolate chip cookie, I can check that one off the list.
5. Well, I’d like to at least get past Chapter 2, which is where I’ve been stuck for two years.
6. Blogs are sort of like having a new baby. They require lots of attention. I have to confess that I’ve been cheating a bit and posting my Spirit articles, so if you’re reading this, it’ll just be a repeat. But on the off chance I occasionally take off on some other flight of fancy, the URL is www.entropyplaza.blogspot.com
7. I’m not aiming to break Jim Domo’s 925 lb. record, but I’d like to see something that resembles a basketball, instead of a softball. I have some seeds from a white French heirloom pumpkin that has bright orange flesh and cool warts all over and I’d love to bring that off, as well.
8. No way.
9. I’ve heard this is a great book and I already have the sequel on my MP3. If I start now, I might be able to finish by December 31. My problem is that where I used to read until all hours of the night, anything longer than a Robert B. Parker mystery gives me a good case of zzzzzz.
10. Since I got blindsided by this in 2009, you can be sure it’s one resolution I intend to keep. And it would behoove all you ladies out there to do the same.

Happy New Year!