I think its time to accept the fact, winter is coming, deal with it.

One of the ways we used to deal with winter in my hometown of Grand Falls (that was before Windsor was added) is partaking in the winter activity called tubing. The equipment needed was simple, warm clothes, a snow covered hill and a dump truck’s inner tube. The object of the activity was simple as well, survive a trip down the snow covered hill aboard the inner tube.
On most hills it would be easy, but the hill we used had a nasty attitude. It’s mean! It like the motorcycle gang leader of hills. No mercy, no compassion, no forgiveness. They built a hospital next to it in order to save gas money for ambulances. It was known as THE HOSPITAL HILL!

looking down hospital hill

When standing on top, glancing down the slope is deceiving. It looks safe -not steep- just a gradual decline, but that just lulls you into a false sense of security. For as the inner tube, piled high with upwards of nine  people, smoothly accelerates down the hill, you become complacent with the ride. This is not scary at all, is the thought that enters your mind halfway down the slope. You relax, settle back, now ready to enjoy the remainder of this speeding decent down the hill of packed and powdered snow.

And as the wind roars past your ears the hill laughs in your face.

We have launch!

First it surprises you with three bumps tossed in your path. Each bump is 2 feet wide and spaced 4 feet apart, one right after the other. Knowing that the bumps are there will make no difference, for no matter where you start or how you try to avoid it, the tube will invariably head for those three bumps. I could never figure out why there are three bumps, because you never hit the middle one. The first bump sends you airborne and you always land on the third, sailing over the middle. If you have a good grip on the tube or one of your fellow passengers you survive this flight without incident. But, be either bit off-balanced and not holding tight to anything, kiss your ride good-bye right there. You’ll find yourself laying on the hill, sliding some distance on nothing but your snowsuit before halting bruised and beaten. The tube continues on without as you watch, defeated. You are faced with two choices. Get back to your feet, reclimb the hill and try again, or you can just lay there in a crumpled heap of humanity and weep, hoping no one is looking. I advise against this. Yes, I know it’s a great method of emotional release, believe me, I’ve tried it. Then I was run over by a toboggan, speeding at breakneck rates, out of control. You see, toboggans, speeding at breakneck rates, out of control, are attracted to crumpled heaps of weeping humanity like magnets to steel. A toboggan will swerve out of its path to plough over a prone figure laying in the snow. Don’t believe me? I dare you to lay down on the hill and see how long it takes you to get run over. The wait will be short.

No Escape

Now if you conquer the three bumps and remain aboard the tube you are now careening down the hill at full tilt. This is when the tube will spin around backward so you can’t see where you are going. A lot of people miss this experience because they close their eyes at the top of the hill and never open them till the bottom. Not me. I want my eyes open! If I am about to die in a terrible tubing mishap I want to see it coming. That offers me the possibility to change my fate, maybe avoid death. It is only then, after attempting everything in my power to escape the reaper, and finding nothing works, I’ll close my eyes and await my oncoming destiny with doom.  Unfortunately, you can’t see dangers approaching when you face uphill, so you kink your neck, trying to look around to look where you are going and once you see your destination, you wonder why you bothered in the first place.

Here the hill throws you a curve. Literally. The hill enters a forest of trees and narrowing path between them curves sharply to the left. Both sides are lined with alders,cherry trees and young birch. If you are slated to die while tubing this is most likely to be the place where you will meet your maker, because, even though the sliding run curves to the left, the tube with eight souls aboard doesn’t. The momentum created by approximately 1000 pounds of people carries it in a straight line and no forest is about to stop it. You try to protect yourself the best way possible. If your tube enters the trees head first your arms come up to protect your head as you hide your face and kiss the black rubber. A broken arm or two is better then a split skull. If you enter feet first you cross your legs at the ankles and pray for mercy. If the tube enter the forest sideways you assume a fetal position with your back downhill, your knees tucked and your chin on your chest. This greatly reduces the risks of snapping something greatly valued on a passing tree. One final note, if you are anywhere on the outer rim of the tube, cover your face, saving it from the sting of whipping branches.

In every battle of the forest versus the tube, it is the trees that emerge victorious. There will always come that one tree which the tube can’t run over, crack off, or bounce around and it will stop with an abrupt suddenness. Unfortunately, inertia is transferred to the passengers and they tend to continue on among the trees, sometimes for another 10 -15 feet, with up to eight bodies scattered among the snow.

Then there is silence.


It is during this time everyone is checking to see if they are still breathing. Then they listen to see if anyone else happens to be in real pain. (Of course everyone is in pain, but by real pain I mean the broken bone, ruptured organs, bleeding blood type pain.) When it appears everyone has survived, hysterical laughter shatters the silence. “ALIVE! I’M ALIVE!” The scattered bodies begin to move, collecting the arms and legs belonging to them. That’s it when someone notices there is only seven of them. Someone has vanished from the eight that began the journey. A muffled plea for help from under the snow sets off a frenzied flurry of digging, and the final survivor is unearthed.

Everyone sets off back up the hill, each telling the tale of how close they came to death and arguing over who’s turn it is to carry up the inner tube. Reaching the top they all board the tube once again to tempt fate, with the single question on their mind. Will I survive this time?

Under the snow, the hill laughs.

"There's that ominus laughter again, hear it?"




10 thoughts on “Thought 192:Winter is Coming, Deal With It

  1. Oh how I remember hospital hill! I don’t think I ever rode it on a tube though. My vehicle of exhilaration was a crazy carpet, and it sure gave you a crazy ride down hospital hill. I took the toboggan a few times too.

    Cheryl once ended up sliding down the hill without anything under her but with someone on top of her head while her face was scrapping along the snow on the hill. She ended up with a nasty scratch on her face which resulted in her being given the nickname Scratch.

    Fun times! 🙂

  2. Sheer brilliant. It makes one wonder how we survived as a species, given our attraction to adrenaline-filled activities such as these. …
    Keep up the good work.

  3. I love it. I can remember clearly sliding/tubing down THE HOSPITAL HILL. Worse still I remember trying to stand up after coming off the tube just after the three bumps only to be hit in the mid-section by the next group of people sliding behind the tube I was on. I even remember calling the Ambulance to pick up an injured tube rider one year. He was in the Hospital for three days. What a great place to slide. We should try it again soon. Would there be anything better then a group of eight middle aged people riding a tube down that hill and over the bumps? I think not! Of course, I am not sure if eight of us would still fit, lol. Great piece Brad, keep them coming.

    • Lee, It might not be the same now, eight middle-aged individuals rushing down the hill smack dab into the senior citizens home they have now built at the bottom. I think it would be too powerful of a metaphor.

  4. Pingback: Thought 118: Saturday’s Kiss: Regardless « Two Hundred and Ten Thoughts

  5. yyaaaayyyyyyyy…tubing..tubing..tubing * chanting away *
    Anything related to snow induces excitement in me. I so badly want to see snow. At the same time I don’t think I can survive those sub zero temperatures. The minimum I seen in my city is 20 degree Celsius…I would die in -20 😀

    For now, I am extremely happy to read about snow…nice..

  6. I did love this…but the very thought of sub zero temperatures makes me numb. And remember, snow is made up of water..guess somewhere the hydrophobia thing creeps in 😀
    ( all lame excuses )

  7. oh to be young again,ha i remember it will,hosptial hill was the best ride,hated the walk up though ,thanks brad, missed your blogs glad you are back and thanks for the memories:)

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