Family Travel

Kerry Egan



Sweet southern sledding

Posted 1/29/2014 7:05:00 PM

We waited all day Tuesday for the snow to start. The kids looked out the windows, and I checked weather obsessively.

We had our snacks all planned out and our obligatory milk and bread ready. When it got to bedtime, and then past bedtime, the kids put their pajamas on inside out and kept hoping that the freezing rain would turn white. I heard them opening the shutters on the windows to look outside from their beds.

And then, finally, after a whole day and night waiting, the magic started. The air filled, and white bloomed on the dead grass. It was snowing in South Carolina!

Snow is a rare event for most of the state, and so worth relishing. Who knows when it will happen again? Like so many things in life, its rarity makes the snow that much more precious.

The whole state seemed to pause today. It wasn't much snow in most parts, but it was just enough. The perfect amount.

This morning in Columbia, during a neighborhood snowball fight on our front lawn, we saw dozens of people out walking to marvel at the beauty. But after some hot chocolate, it was time to get serious and go sledding.

We headed to Memorial Park, on the corner of Washington and Gadsden streets, with some good friends. There, among the memorials to the men and women who served this country, we slid down the snow-covered hills.

Over the course of three hours, we were joined by families and college kids who had grabbed whatever they could to slide. There were tarps, boogie boards, plastic lids and even half of a folding table. Whatever works, right?

My son Jimmy and his friends built a jump. It was only about six inches high, but you could get some air going over the thing. Everyone cheered for each other and everyone shared their sleds. One young woman wanted to try to go down head first, on her belly, but the only gloves she could find in her apartment were the dishwashing kind. Her fingers would have frozen as they whipped through the snow as she held onto the sides of the sled. I lent her mine. Everyone becomes friends on a sledding hill.

One kind gentleman brought his snow shovel. As the snow wore away after so many rides down the hill and the grass started to poke through, he picked up great shovelfuls of snow from elsewhere and spread it out over the sled run. He said that for many years now he has been doing this every time it snows, bringing his shovel to help keep the scant snow just enough for the children to sled on.

It might not have been the biggest or longest or steepest sledding hill in America. Not even close. It might not have been much snow. In fact, by the early afternoon the hill was mostly grass again.

But it was surely one of the sweetest sledding hills in America. That’s what a snow day in South Carolina is like. It’s, as we like to say, just right.