Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Adrian: Slip Sliding Away

Modern sledding is artfully portrayed in the wildly popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson, the strip’s creator, deftly uses sledding as a metaphor for childhood, life in general and the fleeting and elusive nature of both. Many of us have strong childhood memories of sledding, seared into our consciousness, both because of its inherent thrill, as well as memories of the friends and family who shared in our exhilaration.

Throughout Vermont, the tradition of hurling our bodies down snow covered hills by various means remains strong. In fact, a recent bulletin put out by Vermont State Parks extolls the virtues of sledding and recommends specific locations for pursuing this wintery pastime. Personal opinions as to which hill sets the standard are nearly as diverse as the snowflakes that smooth the way.

Recently though, there’s been a trend to prohibit or limit sledding in other parts of the country – out of concern for liability and lawsuits. Nobody wants anyone to be injured, hurtling down winter’s whitened wonderland; and at the same time, cash strapped municipalities don’t want to risk further burden on already strained budgets.

There’s also a greater and more profound force at work in the subconscious of society. Control. In our highly wired and increasingly complex world, we’ve been conditioned to believe that control is as simple as flipping a switch – and the ethereal nature of sledding challenges that perception as merely illusion.

But while we can control much of what goes on in our lives, we can’t control everything. Divergence and diversity only emerge where there’s some loss of control. To sometimes veer close to the edge is to explore the myriad possibilities and choices that life has to offer. Putting artificial limitations on how we explore life, may not always serve its intended purpose.

Hopefully the desire to further regulate an increasingly regulated childhood will stop before breaching Vermont’s borders and allow long-standing traditional activities that contribute to the Vermont identity - like sledding - to endure.

Amidst the uncertain and fluid nature of life, it’s clear that despite the desire to manage and minimize risk at every turn, for the time being at least, Vermont remains a haven for winter sports like sledding.

We Green Mountain dwellers are generally able to accept that we can preserve what’s old, while accepting what’s new, whether it’s people, things or ways of life. Although this being Vermont, a true preservationist is sure to point out that the correct term I should be using here… is sliding.

Ed Adrian is an attorney at the law firm Monaghan Safar Ducham PLLC. He previously served on the Burlington City Council for five years and currently sits on the Burlington Library Commission.
Latest Stories