The smell of pine always reminds me of my childhood adventures being back the bush. You know that place in the back of your nostrils where the cold winter wind mixes with pine pitch? That is the smell of home on Six.
Christmas break was always full of excitement down at Sour Springs. Even if the snow was up to our thighs my siblings and I were always up early and racing to get outside and play in the fluff. More often than not, tobogganing down the hill behind my gramma’s house.
“Moooooooooom! Where’s my mitts?!” I shouted out. I never could find them both anywhere near my coat. Especially among the pile of coats and boots strewn somewhere near the doorway. The entryway was always more like a battle zone with four kids in our household.
“You should have put them in the sleeve of your coat like I told you to,” my mom answered. “Go and get a couple pairs of socks and wear those instead.”
Ugh. Socks on the hands to play outside in the snow. The only thing that was worse than that was the dreaded ‘plastic baggie over the socks’ into wet winter boot linings. Of course, more often than not, I was wearing both.
My brother Dan usually got out the door first. He ran past me snow pants half way pulled up his legs and his coat unzipped with no mitts on. “Red sled, called it!” he shouted as he ran past me and out the door.
“Nooooo!” I shouted after him. I grabbed a couple pairs of random sock like things and padded up my hands to run outside. My brothers always beat me out and were always to the toboggans first.
I yelled after him, “Don’t Dan! I wanted to use the red one!”
“Hehnt!” He quipped back at me and galloped away through the snow like a young buck hopping through the deep. “You’re not getting it either. I’m gonna use it all day!”
“Come on Dan that’s not fair! You have to share!” I shouted. “Mooooooooooom!!!!”
My mom yelled out the door. “Daniel you share that sled with your sister!”
“Huh-uh!” he yelled back. Now for those of you who grew up down the bush in the Eighties you will know this response meant war.
Mom said, “Nahnda just take this big black garbage bag and use that to sled down the hill. It’s the same thing.”
But all kids who had to sled using the big black garbage bag know that it is not the same.
“It’s not the same!” I whined. I took the garbage bag and glared at my younger brother running off with my red sled. A bitter resolve rose up in my nine year old brain and I ran after him, red as that sled, with a mission. Get. that. sled.
As fast as I could, I raced after him hopping through the snow like I was running an Olympic hurdle race. Dan looked back and saw me gaining on him. A look of fear came over his face and he started running faster, as quick as he could to the toboggan hill, but he was no match for my speed or agility. Finally I caught up to him at the top of the hill.
“You gotta share that sled Dan, mom said so,” I barked.
He mouthed off back at me, “Heck no! Just use that bag Nintendo!”
Nothing made me more mad than when people would make fun of my name. And for some reason everyone thought ‘Nintendo’ was a hilarious way to make fun of me.
Dan set down the sled and took off down the hill. Quick as I could I set down that black garbage bag and scooted on my bum down the hill after him. When we were both at the bottom I launched into full attack mode, pouncing on Dan. We rolled around in the snow wrestling and hitting each other.
I pushed him over and grabbed him by the hair, “Don’t call me Nintendo!!”
He knocked me over, pinned me to the ground and started washing my face with snow. The worst winter punishment ever, all the while laughing and taunting me, “Nintendo! Nintendo! Nintendo!”
We’d both stay there fighting and crying in the snow for about five minutes.
Finally when we were out of breath we stopped fighting. Both of us with cheeks now as red as that sled. Slowly we both got up from the ground and wiped off, glaring at each other through freezing tears.
I wiped my snotty nose with my stupid sock hands. Dan saw me crying and his heart softened. He handed me the handle to the red sled. “You can have a turn,” he said to me. “Let’s both go together.”
And just like that, the war was over. Tears were put away, bitterness faded and we both ran back to the top of the hill and shared that red sled for the rest of the afternoon.