Leave it up to the neighborhood kids, my own included, to create a game that is so wonderfully ridiculous I can’t help but document it for you. Yesterday’s game had me laughing so hard the residual giggles followed me indoors after playing photographer to their silliness. I must give credit to A.M, the 9 year old who I’m starting to realize is the mastermind behind such wildly creative game-inventions [you might remember her from her British commentary on Asian fashion].
Let me set the scene: It is Labor Day in Michigan. The sun and relative humidity are living in perfect harmony; temperatures hover near 80 degrees. Blue skies all around canopy our town in the beauty of what we hope will be a long Indian Summer. In such conditions, what sort of games would you expect 6-9 year-olds to be playing?
Baseball? No. Too predictable
Bike Riding? Been there, done that.
Fort-building? That is soooo August.
“Hey! I have an idea! How about we pretend to be sled dogs and I’ll be the musher!”
Wellll, of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Why don’t I contact my leprechaun uncle and we can mush the dogs to the end of the rainbow while we’re at it?!
A.M., the sled-dog master, showed up on our yard with a bungled mass of yarn, standard gear for any hard-core arctic racer. She found the end of the ball and slowly drew three individual strands from the center, handing one to each of her “dogs” [her sister and our two oldest]. Taking a tip from Wikipedia, no doubt, she instructed them on the appropriate formation. Wiki tells us, “The dogs spread out in a fan formation ahead of the sled as they run, and this gives them more room to maneuver over rough ice or other obstacles.”
Well done, novice mushers. Note the skis at the ready; these kids are not messing around.
And….THEY’RE OFF!! [by the way, do you see any similarities between these two pictures?]
Later, after realizing that skis do not work as well in grass as they would in water or, in this case, on snow, the sled team abandoned the aerodynamic wood planks in favor of all-out-sprinting. Again, Wikipedia points out that, “…recreational mushing thrives as an unorganized sport providing healthy outdoor form of winter exercise for families.” Winter, schminter. September 7 is as good a time as any!
They ran through the Labor Day grass alternating between the command to “MUSH!” and childlike imitations of dogs barking. After nearly reaching Nome, they collapsed on our front porch for a rest and a “snack.”
Now, what, would you imagine, a group of kids would conjure up for a sled-dog-appropriate snack? Jerky? Raw beef chunks? For amateurs.
Instead, their trusty Musher offered them salmon.
No, I’m not kidding. Not real salmon, of course, but I stood there in my kitchen with the windows open [trembling with laughter] listening to this exchange:
“Good doggies!! Want a treat? Salmon? Treat??” in an eager, high-pitched voice.
“Woof! Woof!” [tongues panting, down on all fours, barking like dogs].
Oh Glory, was it funny!
Leave it to this group of kids to find a way to keep busy and wring the life out of summer.
They may have been soaking in the sun, but in their hearts, they were truly deep in the snow, living the wild, untamed life of a Sled-dog Team.