In a small town in a northern state there is a street called Center Street. It comes off of a main thoroughfare and slopes quickly downhill going south. Center Street is like any other street most of the time; just a way to get from one place to another, but in the winter it on occasion turns into a small piece of heaven.
When the time is right, the conditions perfectly timed with below freezing temperatures and sunny clear skies, Center Street is changed into a winter play land for local residents and their children. The fire department shows up first and they close little Center Street by chaining the entrance and setting orange cones out. Then the towns biggest fire truck pulls alongside the now blocked entrance and begins to spray water down the hill. The water quickly freezes all the way down the long slope and the next day they return to repeat the process. Now a slippery glimmering sheet of ice, the slope site idly waiting for the perfect snowfall.
A fresh crisp coat of 2 or 3 inches of virgin snow and the entire town knows that Center Street will be opening! The vendors arrive first, setting up their stands at the very bottom of the big hill. They will be selling everything from hot coffee and chocolate to hot dogs and hamburgers. Some will even sell gloves and scarfs, balloons and band aids!
And then they come; as many residents as can break free of the everyday humdrum of routine life. The schools close for the day too; they call it a “heating equipment” problem at the school! And they begin to gather at the top of the hill. The sleds come with children sometimes already attached to them, not willing to let go until they reach the bottom. Toboggans come too, along with the occasional garbage can lid, plastic “house for sale” sign and anything else that will slide smoothly and effortlessly across the snow.
With loving townsfolk watching and insuring the safety of the kids, they are allowed to scream and laugh and giggle and yell as they play cops and robbers, caterpillar sliding down, where they go down holding on to each others sled and catch me if you can, where one gets a two second lead before the other can follow.
The problems fade away along with the worries of everyday life and loneliness and sadness disappear for a while as the laughter becomes contagious and lasts into late evening. And as the sun fades and the laughter wanes, the community climbs the hill back up to the top and takes one last look at the slope. You can usually see a mountain of smiles and hear a hundred “Wow’s” as they all reluctantly go back to their everyday humdrum lives.