Dead Man’s Hill

My wife had a soccer game tonight, and since it’s summer and nobody has to be up especially early tomorrow, I went with both kids to watch her play.

The field she was playing at was very close to where I lived for ten years before moving in with my wife. I spent almost all of my teens there and I know the area well, including a large forested area with several trails going through it. I told my children about this, and about a hill at the edge of the forest which we called, “Dead Man’s Hill”. It was a drop off, steep and bumpy, from the upper forest to the fields far below, and many who tried to bike down it ended up taking to the air. I was never brave enough to try.

Obviously, my kids spent a good long time begging me to take them into the woods so they could see this mythical slope for themselves, and since that particular trail/hill leads out close to where the soccer fields are, it was no big deal to indulge them.

We walked to where the trail started and looked up the length of the hill. Not as big as I remember it, I thought. “Awesome!” Said my kids in unison.

We climbed up the hill. It’s steep enough that you have to lean way forward when climbing. I was puffing a bit at the summit, but it wasn’t too terrible.

Looking down from the top, my kids pointed and shouted. “Nobody could ever make it down that hill,” said my oldest. “Nobody!”

I looked down and thought, “This damned thing is half the size I remember. I could totally bike down this ant hill.”

Such a let-down. This beast of a hill from my adolescence was nowhere near as impressive as I remembered it. Definitely it was less impressive than I’d let myself think it was. That hill was totally better in my memory that it was in the real world, and now I’m wondering if my kids were impressed because I’d told them it was impressive, or if they really were impressed by the size of it.

Maybe it’s past time for me to look around and re-evaluate the things I consider impressive and intimidating.


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