All month long Rhonda Parrish and her helper elves are hosting the posts of other people as part of my 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour. All the guest bloggers are welcome to write about anything they’d like so long as their post touched on a December holiday in some way, no matter how tangentially. This website will also host several Giftmas blog posts throughout December. Share them on social media using the hashtag #GiftmasTour.
But wait! There’s more!
We’re also giving away a whole whack of prizes (check out the list here) which you can enter to win using the Rafflecoper at the end of this post. Whatever December holiday you celebrate (or don’t) winning a stack of books will make it better!
The Ice Dragon
I remember this because I was in my dad’s garage while he fixed something beneath an old, rattling, not-fit-for-the-road four-wheel-drive something. My neighbor, who was five years older than me and the only other kid within five miles, had come over with nothing else to do during this Christmas-break blizzard.
(There was one other person to play with. But that was my kid sister, and we all know how fourth graders feel about kid sisters.)
While my dad made this four-wheel-drive monstrosity ready to tackle snowy hills and icy fields, my neighbor put a new cassette tape into the stereo. It was the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill.
Great album, by the way, which I don’t think I appreciated at ten-years-old-or-so. Maybe it’s because it took me another ten years to figure out the lyrics and all the innuendo that went along with them.
So, I think that was the Christmas break of 1986. And while my neighbor was introducing me to the Beastie Boys and my dad was harrumphing about new music and cutting his knuckles fixing a beast of a jeep, I was lamenting that this blizzard was happening during Christmas break. What a waste of weather; I was already off school.
Eventually, my dad finished whatever he was doing. To this day, I don’t know what it was, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this old, white Jeep-or-something-similar wasn’t fit for everyday use on the road. But what it was fit for (at least once my mechanic father was done with it) was hauling through the snow and nasty weather like an ice dragon with chains on its tires.
And so we rode around the streets through a blizzard. My neighbor and I were happy to have an adventure. We were happy to be pioneers, cutting through the harsh wilderness of snow that no other men dared.
I think my dad was happy to not have to listen to any more Beastie Boys.
And we used this dragon of a vehicle on-road and off. When we were done patrolling the streets, we hauled it back home in search of a new adventure.
If creativity can be spurred by the availability of crap you can play with, a mechanic’s yard is heaven. And we had an idea for the best sledding ever.
So we took the hood off another old car and tied it to the back of the ice dragon.
Our sled properly attached, we drove it down to the cornfield. The snow was still falling, and by now we had enough to almost, but not completely, hide the stumps of stalks from the fall’s harvest. It was an invitation, an open course of smooth, white adventure, rippled with an inch or two of last year’s stalk like mile markers or cones on an obstacle course.
My neighbor and I climbed on the car hood, and my dad plunged into the field.
This, without exception, was the best sledding of my life. Riding on a car hood through a cornfield, tethered to the back of a jeep, through a blizzard. The snow was slick and we swung wide with each turn. We rumbled and bounced across the ruts in the field we couldn’t see beneath the snow. We were sprayed with flying ice and water and our eyes watered and our noses stung. The dragon’s engine roared as it thrashed and cut through ice and wind and tossed us.
And then I was splayed out in the snow like Wile E. Coyote after a fall, while the car hood rolled right over my face.
I won’t say I was pushed, but, who knows. And now, I want to say it didn’t really hurt, but I don’t really remember. I imagine I was hurt and upset and probably slung whatever ungentle words I knew as a ten-year-old at my neighbor. (See my earlier innocence regarding the Beastie Boys.)
What I really remember is howling in delight as we flew along through a blizzard. We probably never cleared three miles an hour, but to me, we flew with that feral dragon. And it was worth the face-smooshing.
I remember the whole episode in bits and pieces, in vague flashes, and with a lot of fondness.
But I remember something else more clearly.
I remember the reason we fixed that ice dragon for the snow in the first place. When we drove out on the roads, it wasn’t just an adventure (though it was, and we, all three of us, were happy to have one).
We had gone out in search of stranded cars and luckless people stuck in a bad storm.
And we found some. People desperate to get where they were going or too foolish to stay home. At least three or four cars were half-buried in snowbanks or nose-down in a ditch after sliding off the road. And each time, that ice dragon hooked its tail on the hapless car, and without expectation of payment or thanks, pulled it free with a gentleness that I only now recognize.
Some cars were close enough to home or on a clear enough stretch to make it where they were going. We followed to make sure they were safe. Other people couldn’t manage the trek even after their cars were put back on the road. Those drivers we loaded into the backseat and drove home to be sure they weren’t stranded in a blizzard.
They got to ride home in the ice dragon.
But I’m the only one who faced its full fury and lived to tell the tale.
including a grand prize of TWENTY books!