Laura Zoeller

Column Laura Zoeller

Laura Zoeller is a farm wife and mother who has been blessed with a wonderful and funny - life.

Against my better judgment

January 20, 2014

I know that I have made the comment repeatedly in this space that I hate cold weather. That I hate going outside in it. That I love to watch the kids from the window, and I love to snuggle under blankets until all vestiges of winter have passed.

Well, darn it if I don’t love my son more than those things!

After the earth was covered with several inches of perfect sledding snow, my son asked me if I would please, pretty please, go sled riding with him. And the worst part? He made me promise once I said yes. Not one to break a promise to my kids if it is humanly possible to avoid, I knew I was stuck.

So I figured I should make someone else suffer with me.

When my sister called me later that morning saying she was feeling a bit confined, I knew who that special someone should be. I invited her and my three youngest nieces out to the farm for lunch and a sled-riding date. It promised to be interesting, to say the least.

After a quick lunch of meatloaf and roasted potatoes – followed by a pep talk for both my sister and I – we began the process of dressing for the weather. For my sister, that entailed assisting each of her daughters with several layers of clothes and socks she had meticulously packed in the order she would need them. For me, I yelled, “Get ready to go outside!” and my kids put on some random items they found lying around. Not sure if any of them ever found gloves.

The hill in my yard was nearly perfect for all riders, with one tiny little problem. If anyone failed to stop before hitting the sidewalk, there was a good chance they would slide across the ice there, across the icy driveway and down a pretty scary bank. With that in mind, my sister and I stationed ourselves at the bottom to act as a barrier for those who failed to bail off of their sleds in time.

After a half hour or so, we decided that it was our turn to ride. My oldest took watch of her cousins as my sister and I climbed to the top of the yard to make our descents. We waited until the coast was clear before taking off, but mere seconds later, it all went wrong.

My sled got turned around so that I was flying backward down the hill. Hers was spinning in repeated 360 degree circles. I tried to put my feet down in the hope that the friction would slow me down, but before any noticeable difference could be felt, I slammed into my daughter and watched as she went soaring over my head. I, of course, continued across the sidewalk and onto the icy driveway, though I slowed enough to prevent myself from going over the breakneck hill.

As I was scrambling to get off the ice to check on my daughter, I could hear cackles of laughter coming from the general direction of my sister. She also landed on my eldest child, and the two of them were laughing pretty uncontrollably at my predicament. I guess I looked like a spider wearing roller skates or something.

We continued to take turns for another hour or so, until all of the kids begged to go thaw out. My sister and I were actually the last ones to go indoors, taking just one more ride before quitting for the day. It was a lot more fun than I remember it being, though I’ll need to wait for a day or two to find out just how much suffering I’ll yet be doing.

Laura Zoeller can be reached at



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