The Sleigh Ride 1885

By Walter K. Billings

It was about the middle of January. We had been nearly snowed under from a week’s storm –  snow, then rain that flooded the flats along the creek, and a sudden change to a very cold weather that froze the snow, making a glare sheet of ice from the Lyn Road down across the creek that was still level with its banks.

Sunday afternoon my cousin with his parents came up for a visit. We two were out in the yard, playing on the crust with the big hand sleigh and, looking across to Harper’s Hill, decided it would be a good chance to try a ride there. We walked up the road climbed the fence and got the sleigh in position then I lay down on my stomach and my cousin lay on my back Away we went ! The hill at the top was very steep, the sleigh gained speed and in seconds we were on the glare ice of the flat, then across the creek, up the bank and …. Woods. My cousin seeing the danger had thrown himself clear but I had no chance; the force of the collision had knocked me out for a minute or two. We finally got back across the creek, where my cousin laid me on the sleigh and began the long pull back to the house. We finally got to the warmth of the barn where I lay down on the straw in the feed floor, in front of the cattle for an hour. When I returned to the house, where my uncle was waiting to go home, I complained of a headache and got sent to bed. Next morning I felt better but never told mother what had happened to me, as I knew that she would say it was good enough for me, when I had gone sleigh riding on Sunday.

Driving along the Lyn Road I often look down the hill. The line fence has been moved and passes closed to the clump of trees we hit that Sunday long ago. The sand and gravel have been taken away to the city so that there is no more fun on Harper’s Hill. But the memory of the boyhood escapade still lives.

This story is taken from the book “How Dear to My Heart” by Walter Kilborn Billings, published in 1954.

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