The Value of Play

Please welcome Slim Randles as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. He’s here so often he could be called a regular, but Wednesday’s Regular doesn’t have the same rhythm as Wednesday’s Guest, and in my estimation, writing is all about rhythm. I love this essay because I do love to play in the snow, and I miss it here in Texas where it only comes now and then. Reading Slim’s post, I couldn’t help but think of the new ad campaign sponsored by the the NFL: NFL Rush Play 60 that is part of a nation-wide effort to get kids to go outside and play. Funny thing is that those of us of a certain age didn’t need that kind of push. If Mom said, “Go outside and play” we were gone. It’s kind of sad that that is not true today. But, I digress. Grab a cup of something to keep you warm on this cold winter day and enjoy. You may have a cookie, read the essay, and then go outside and play. (smile)

The whole thing began right after the first good snow this year. Herb Collins was looking out his window at the point on his small farm where Lewis Creek cuts through a rather steep hill. Neighborhood kids were sledding up there and trying to avoid rocks and one gnarly tree that stuck out. He also noticed that if the kids were successful in avoiding death and destruction, they came to an immediate and violent halt at a submerged log next to the creek.
He brought this up at the next unscheduled-but-daily-anyway meeting of the World Dilemma Think Tank down at the Mule Barn. Some executive decisions were made rather suddenly, and construction began the following day.
Jim Kennedy showed up driving a Bobcat, Doc brought a chain saw, and Steve had his four-wheel-drive pickup with a big chain in it.

At the end of three hours, a long, sloping gentle run began up by the road and looped around two turns, and ended in a gentle upslope on the far side of the frozen creek.

Of course, this activity ruined what snow cover there was, so the kids looked disappointed.
But last week it snowed hard, a good six inches, and the kids went running down to try the new sled run.
It wasn’t all that exciting for them. So when Doc and Herb and Dud and Steve showed up, one of the kids politely pointed out to Mr. Collins that they couldn’t really get going very fast down that hill on the new run.
“I know that,” said Herb. “But see all those other steep runs you have? You can go break your neck on any of them. This run is for a special purpose.”

“A special purpose, sir?”

Herb nodded. “Steve? If you please.”

And Steve brought out the toboggan from his pickup truck, and the old guys took turns being kids once more down their own sledding run.

Brought to you by “Strange Tales of Alaska,” by Slim Randles. Now available on

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