As I mentioned a day or two ago, we are in Indiana at the moment. We come every year at Christmas, and I love spending a week or so on the farm. It’s great for the kids to run around in the fields, play in the barns and do all the ‘dangerous’ stuff farm kids do on a regular basis. (Like riding on the open tailgate of a pick up truck when going back to the pasture or into the fields.) This Christmas we have the added bonus of snow – enough snow for some serious sledding. There is a valley that borders my parents’ land, and ever since I can remember it has been our go to spot for sledding. In 1978, when I was 11 and we had a record breaking blizzard, we even sledded at night, thanks to some floodlights my brother hooked up to his truck and shone across the valley so we could see where we were going.
This is the first time I’ve been able to take my kids there. The times we had enough snow they were still too little, and in the past couple of years we haven’t had any snow over Christmas. But yesterday was golden. We took our sleds – two hard plastic things called banana peels which we got when I was about 9 and which are unrivaled for speed and fun – across the fence and over to the valley. I wish I had video of it. There is nothing like sledding on hills that are steep enough to be fast but not so steep that the landing is usually in crash form. These hills are perfect. After about an hour, when we were all good and tired from climbing back up the hill, we went on a treasure hunt. Literally.
A small creek runs at the bottom of this valley, and across it there is an area that is a trove of ‘treasure’. There must have been a house there once, long long ago, because growing up my friend Mendy and I would spend hours there during the summer, digging up old bottles and broken pieces of pottery. I’d told the kids about it and promised we’d visit, so we ditched the sleds at the bottom of the hill and made our way over the creek and part way up the other side. A squat ancient tree with low hanging limbs creates an almost cave-like feel to this place, and although there was quite a lot of snow and a plethora of bramble bushes that weren’t there when I was a kid, we made our way in and sat at the trunk of the tree. In just a few minutes, Ben found a small glass bottle – probably an old pill bottle of some sort – completely intact. Maya, who had been a little reluctant at first, was spurred on by Ben’s discovery, and uncovered a gorgeous piece of green glass that looked to have once been the lip of a pitcher. Then Ben found the top of an old glass jug, and I unearthed another small, intact bottle with the word ‘Fitch’ on the bottom. (My Mom tells me that the Fitch company used to make men’s hair tonic – so this bottle may date from the 1930′s or 40′s.)
We stopped then, feeling that to do more we needed to bring better digging tools than our gloved hands. We plan to go back tomorrow. In the meantime, I am the COOLEST mom on the planet for promising buried treasure and then delivering on that promise! Our first days’ ‘loot’ is now proudly on display on a small glass table in my parent’s living room.
That was yesterday. Today my kids went out on their own to sled the big hills in the valley. This is a first for Maya, who has always been a little reluctant to wander around the farm on her own. (Our neighborhood in New York City? No problem. An open field? Weeeelll….) I couldn’t see them, but heard shouts of laughter and many ‘woo-hoo’s! as they flew down the hill.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.