Recent weather forecasts have shown that winter is not over for much of the United States. So I still have time to share another winter memory from childhood. As I stated in a previous blog, we lived in the city of Spokane, WA, from the fall of 1956 until around Christmas of 1957. We lived in a neighborhood on what was called the “south hill”, which climbed from the Spokane River in the center of town up to a plateau at the south edge of town. During the winter, the city helped us to make the snowy streets more fun. A couple of blocks from our house was Ivory Street, a normally quiet residential street. It ran from near the top of the hill at 16th Avenue down to our street, 1oth Avenue. It was an uninterrupted hill for six blocks. During the winter, at least for part of it, the city would block off Ivory from traffic going up and down it, and restrict cross traffic to allow the kids and adults to climb the hill and sled down for a good long ride.
They also provided warming fires along the way in big 55 gallon drums. It was a wonderland for us kids. We could sled down one block or get adventurous and climb all the way to the top of hill and slide to the bottom. I don’t know how long they did that or if they still do, but for an 8 or 9-year-old, it was great and it was free.
And it was a great way to burn off energy. There is nothing more difficult than pulling a sled up an icy street for several blocks. But the payoff was the ride down. The more energy used, the greater the reward. As the old saying goes, “no pain, no gain.”
Sometimes, in life, we seek to avoid difficulties but by doing so, we also avoid victories. There may be some joy in sitting on the sidelines cheering, but it is no substitute for actually participating in the game. I enjoy being a fan, but I remember the joy of being on a winning team and it is much better. Even losing, while giving our best, can be therapeutic. And it can be a learning experience. We learn what to avoid and what to strengthen.
What have you been afraid to do? Is it something that might benefit you or someone else? Why not make the effort? Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You might find you like it, or you might find that it is not for you. It could be something God has prepared you for all your life. But you will never know until you give it a try.
When we arrived at Ivory Street, dragging our sleds behind us, we first took it easy. Climbing one block and sliding down was actually exhilarating at first. But after a few times, we wanted to go for more. So we slipped and slid and climbed the icy street another block until by the end of the day, we had made at least one run from the very top. It was a tough climb to get there, but the ride down was worth it. And it made for lasting memories.