“Let’s do it again!”
Sometimes you give in. Sometimes you don’t. I looked behind me, up the tall sturdy ice slide from which we had promptly whizzed to the bottom and I politely declined.
The guides had been very kind and quite firm: “Keep your arms and legs inside the sled. You will be going fast and this is for your safety.” The drop in front of us plummeted many stories down. I gulped and channeled the same ferocity and courage reserved for roller coasters. My mouth opened and said, “yes” when my younger cousin Michael declared he wanted to slide down the notorious ice slide. Our moms both looked at him and looked at me. It was decided in a moment’s earshot of the squeals of delight shooting down.
This particular December, we’d journeyed up to Quebec to truly experience Christmas decked out in snow, and adorned in ice crystals. In Montreal, we explored the underground city and became familiar with the barista at a local coffee shop where we would order hot chocolate and linger, listening to the lilt of French slip into English with such ease.
Michael and I had taken upon ourselves to make proper snow angels wherever we found unmarred and pristine patches of fresh snow. Our moms watched on, happy to see their kids happy. While it could easily and often be said, everything is bigger in Texas, we had never encountered so much snow or a similar kind of cold that seeps into the core of your being. During that trip I became a walking presence with two eyes barely discernible from the scarf wrapped around my neck, my mouth, my ears and under an ear flapped toboggan. A horse carriage ride around town was its own sweet torture.
A few days later, we packed up and headed for Quebec City by train. Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel and got settled. I slid the curtain back, entranced in the environs as a view of the St. Lawrence river showed massive chunks of ice lazily drifting down the river. I sat transfixed at the frozen beauty. Not far from the hotel, a formidable ice slide stood as sentinel as if beckoning the adventure seekers. Michael spotted it and I knew one thing now on his agenda in Quebec City.
When given an opportunity to reckon with an ice slide that towers above you into the sky, you don’t say no. The guides had been very kind and firm, but inside my head as they drilled down to keep our legs and arms inside, I considered the poor person who had not heeded that bit of counsel and perhaps severed a foot or hand. My overactive imagination psyched me out by the time we had climbed the stairs to stand at the top and peer down below, two crows clad in black ready to alight, our moms mere specks against the austere white backdrop.
At the front, Michael eagerly crawled onto the sled and I manned the rear with arms wrapped tightly around his waist and legs tucked like vices around our shivering bodies. When they tipped the sled forward and released it, two things came to mind: sheer terror and exhiliration. Those two make interesting bedfellows. The wind slapped my face under its scarved and hooded appearance, pushing my skin like fingers molding clay. Michael screamed in delight, our song of victory and conquest. Before we knew it, we found ourselves at the bottom of the slide. I played the part of the brave older child- the teenager, as our moms pressed in asking about the harrowing experience and describing their view of the drop. From his mouth came the words:
“Let’s do it again!”
I promptly and ever so casually said no and we began our short trek back to the hotel. Along the way, a small hut accosted us with the smells of coffee and maple mingling together. The moms ordered up cups of hot coffee. Michael and I celebrated our adventure with fresh out-of-the-oven Beaver Tails. If you’ve ever had a Maple Glazed doughnut, it is a mere shadow of the goodness of that hot piece of flat fried dough slathered in a steaming maple glaze. I chewed slowly, letting each bite warm me up and savoring the tantalizing flavor. My tongue pushed the glaze down into my mouth, tearing off a bit of dough. If ice slides involve a beaver tail, I’m in.
And if I might have my say on holiday desserts to conjure up maple memories, I’d have to give in and cut a small slice of Maple Custard Pie. If I close my eyes, I might see a sled and hear squeals in the far distance.