I grew up in the heartland of America, in the northern regions of the country not far from Chicago. We certainly had hot summers, but when the winter came, we got to experience all the frigid temperates one could handle. I remember one time in college when it was -40 degrees windchill! At that temperature you just cover up any exposed skin that you don’t want to lose! Try throwing some boiling water in the air at that temperature, and watch it crystalize almost instantly!
That’s Illinois. Some of my fondest memories were of wintery storms where the snow would come pouring down and pile up outside so much that everything shut down. There was nothing to do but to go out in the snow and enjoy it!
We were fortunate enough to live in a place with great sledding hills. There was a reservoir but 10 minutes away with a massive hill that was really quite intimidating. You would really, REALLY fly down that thing! You had to be careful if you were heading towards any trees or steep drop offs — always ready to bail out if you had to. There was a very real sense that you were taking your life into your hands, and always a level of danger to it that made it extra intense. We would build jumps and see who could get the most air and go the farthest without killing themselves.
We would stay out for hours — until we were so soaked, cold and exhausted we just had to go in. Then we trod back in the snow and escaped to the warm confines of the house, the entryway becoming a mess of wet boots and ski clothes pilling up under our feet. Heading upstairs, we could sit down and sip on some of mom’s hot cocoa, which always had a layer of scalded milk on top scorched by the hot stove. Those were good memories.
Around us in Tokyo, snow rarely accumulates, which means we have to go up into the mountains at the right time if we want to enjoy snow sports. Fortunately for us, there is a fun ski hill about an hour away — Fujiten, situated near the base of Mt Fuji. It even has a little hill where you can sled.
My kids don’t have many experiences in the snow, so it was fun for them to get to go sledding. Even though it was completely different than the death-defying sledding I knew as a kid, the Ski Patrol took it very seriously. It was still a blast and I’m sure they’re already looking forward to the next big snow so they can ask “Can we go out and play in the snow?!”