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  • My Dad would have loved today. Zero degrees. Hard-pack fresh snow on the back roads, the dirt roads, snow weighing down the trees. I can almost hear him now, leaning out the window, asking if we were all on, whether we were ready.

    Some context. My father was a doctor who survived all the European invasions during World War II only to catch polio from a patient a year before the vaccine. He never complained. He had a brace on one leg, a corset with metal stays to offset not having any back muscle, and he made house calls right up until his death. And he loved snow. Let me rephrase: He loved to drive in the snow. Fast.

    All of my brothers and I have stories about driving with him in the snow. He'd always test the limits, drive much faster than we thought he should be driving and then he'd make it through some ungodly deep spot, hoot, and continue on. Every once in a while, though, he wouldn't quite make the turn, or he'd get too tight on the bank and, well, we'd have to walk to the nearest farm to get someone with a tractor. He was never embarrassed. The people who pulled him out thought it was funny. My mom thought he was a lunatic.

    And he was. And I'm realizing that as I sit here, writing this, reading this. He was a great man but he was crazy. About snow.

    So on a day like today, with cold, pack-snow on the road -- no sand, no salt -- and he'd get us to tie the old wooden toboggan to the bumper with a 20 foot hemp rope, he'd wait till we all got on -- my brothers and me, their friends and them, me and my friends, whomever. He'd gently get the rope taut and take off. He'd zip out the drive and try to dump us as we got on the road, but we learned how to lean into the corner and we were good.

    One time when my brothers were on and I was in the passenger seat I actually saw him hit 30 which, today, boggles my mind. Because at 30, if you put your head up in a deep spot, you would get so much snow in your mouth you couldn't breathe or it would freeze your eyes shut, or both. And that was not good, being on the back of a toboggan going 30 miles an hour unable to see or breathe, so you'd bail. He gave us pointers on rolling, "Keep your legs and arms curled up close to your body," but you'd still bounce around and slide and maybe catch some rocks or end up in the bank.

    But it was hilarious. And he'd drive back dragging the forlorn toboggan, laughing, his head leaning out, "What happened?"

    "Gee, Dad, I don't know."

    Yah, he would have loved a day like today, zero degrees, hard, squeaky snow and not a sanding truck in sight.
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