“Preface to a Backyard Adventure,” by Eric Hawthorn

Dec 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Prose

Our backyard sloped down like the tongue of a thirsty dog. Its steepness made for excruciating leaf raking, impossible lawn mowing, and unbelievable sledding. Of course, my fondest backyard memories are from sledding season. My two brothers and I would fight over the runner sled, which our family had owned for so long that it creaked like a rocking chair and made its own decisions, steering-wise. With enough grease on its runners and a good push, this sled really got going. The company that made it—during Colonial times, we figured—had named it “The AstroGlider.” The paint had mostly worn off, but we could still faintly read the sled’s motto, printed on one side: The Smoothest Ride Around. Our parents thought this was funny. 

But this isn’t about our AstroGlider, or its gliding ability. 

The winter before my ninth birthday was one of those cold-warm-cold winters. Coat-and-glove days were followed by t-shirt days. A half-foot of snow would turn mushy, only to freeze again that night. One day, my brothers and I went out back, where the snow was gray and sloppy in the afternoon sun. Using shovels, we tamped the snow into a path. The path was a straight shot from the top of the hill to the bottom. The next morning, we pulled our AstroGlider sled to the backyard, which had transformed overnight into a sheet of ice. Straight down its center, glistening, was the sweetest luge track ever

But this isn’t about our backyard luge track. 

The day before, just after we had finished smoothing the track, we built a little jump or mogul at the bottom of the hill. The jump wasn’t too high—maybe four or five feet. It was completely smooth and had frozen solid the previous night.    

But this isn’t about the jump we built at the end of our icy luge track. 

This is about our family dog, Sprinkles, who volunteered to go first.


Eric Hawthorn lives in Boulder, Colorado, where he is pursuing an MFA at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the finest MFA program he could get into. Previously, his work has been published in Dog Oil Press, The Battered Suitcase, and Denver Syntax.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.