Tuesday, January 11, 2011

King of the Hill

While I was in grade school in Star Valley, Wyoming, we got a lot of snow during the winter. The snowplows would clear out the parking lots of the elementary school, pushing up huge banks of snow. We boys would play king of the hill on these snowbanks. It didn't take long for the top of the snowbank to become smooth from the scuffling feet of kings and would-be kings. And there were myriad furrows leading to the bottom of the snowbank, made slippery by the backs of deposed monarchs and failed usurpers. Many a time my very own back helped to polish those furrows; it seemed to take forever to slide to the bottom, and longer to climb back to the top. But it was worth it.

Its astonishing, now, to look upon the snowbanks thrown up by the snowplows and to realize that they're probably the same size as the ones I used to gambol on as a child. In my memory they were easily twenty feet tall. But in all likelihood they're no bigger than the one shown in the photograph above—five, maybe six, feet tall.

I suppose it's all about perspective. As a child, when I looked up at the snowbank, it towered over me. It was daunting. But now that I'm taller than the snowbank, it's not so impressive. Neither is the idea of being the one standing at the top. At least, not at the top of a snow pile.

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