We were planning to leave Massachusetts on Thursday, January 2nd. But as it turned out, a nor' easter was bearing down on the region and expected to dump between 6 to 18-inches of snow. And us, being the snow-loving, adventure-seeking people that we are ... who always seem to be robbed of the white fluffy stuff in Virginia ... took a family poll and it was unanimously decided that we would stay and experience what a big snow storm is like.
On Wednesday night, we were camped around the television watching the weather reports and trembling with excitement. When we woke up on Thursday morning, it was snowing and it was beautiful. As we got up and started to get ready for the day, my oldest brother, Francis, called and asked how would we like to go sledding with his four children?
Would we ever!
So we donned our multiple layers of snow gear and ventured off. Now my brother, Francis, lives less than five miles from my sister, Beth, where we were staying. But the road leading to my brother's house is along a rather steep hill and two-wheel drive minivans don't do so well in snowy conditions on steep hills, as shown below:
After we spun and twisted about for a good ten minutes, hoping that we'd gain some traction only to realize we were sliding backwards, I called my brother who told me to tell Charlie, the driver, to PUNCH IT. Charlie PUNCHED IT and nothing happened except a lot of smoke. So my brother gave a deep sigh and chuckle, and then drove down to rescue us, as shown below:
(This was a very welcome sight for worried eyes!)
When Francis arrived in his loaded Ford 350 with snow plow and flashing lights, and expertly cleared out the road behind us so we could roll back and get the traction we needed, and then he completely cleared the entire road before us all the way back to his house, Charlie said in an exasperated voice, "Now he's just showing off!!"
We arrived at my brother's home and my 21-year old nephew, little Francis, who is now 6'4" made all the kids hot chocolate. We then set off for a local sledding hill with my brother, my niece, Maggie (who was actually celebrating her 18th birthday that same day) and her best friend, Mary; while my sister-in-law, Mary Ann and my 22-year old niece, Mary and 19-year old niece, Maggie, stayed home and finished cooking dinner with their mom. They said they'd join us in a few minutes for some sledding excitement...
Oh, but the temperature was 5 degrees when we arrived at the sledding hill and Francis suspected that the windchill lowered the temperature to at least -10 below zero.
The kids all rode their own sleds, with the exception of Henry who stayed perched on front of Maggie's sled and served as a good wind-block for the birthday girl (shown in the orange hat):
I was able to make two runs, and then had to escort one frozen Carolyn back to the car. All told, we "enjoyed" sledding for about 15 minutes. This is a picture I took of Henry with ice crystals on his eyelashes and eyebrows. He was afraid to cry because he thought his tears would freeze:
As we were leaving the hill, less than 20 minutes after we'd arrived, Mary Ann and my two nieces were just arriving and upon seeing our frozen faces, decided they'd skip the "fun". Francis and Mary Ann invited us to stay for dinner, which was extremely gracious of them, considering we added an additional seven people (our six + my nephew Michael) to their table. But in a loaves and fishes kind of miraculous way, the four-pound roast that they'd prepared, and the round birthday cake they'd picked up for their daughter's birthday, sufficiently fed 14 people.
We all sang Happy Birthday to sweet Maggie, and I told her that if she blew out the candles, she'd get one wish. But if she sneezed out the candles, she'd get one wish AND all the cake.
Being the kind cousin that she is, she let her little cousin help. Although it looks from this photo that Henry did it all on his own...
That's what little cousins are for. Well, that and snow shields.
In one case they block the wind, in another, they make it.