The cold air didn’t do much to bolster my confidence. I could have been curled up on the couch at home, watching a movie and maybe eating pizza but instead I was standing in front of an unfamiliar building in Vermont with snow crunching underfoot and cold air stinging my skin. I was 12, and my dad and I had just made what felt like a very long drive from Connecticut after an even longer week of school and work. The sun had gone down sometime along the way and the big building with warm light spilling out of the windows onto the frozen lawn and strangers milling around inside looked about as odd and alien as a spaceship that had just touched down in front of me.

My dad and I were greeted warmly by Nate and Jake, the then-Flying Cloud directors, who remembered us from a recent house party hosted in Connecticut. The weekend is something of a blur from there, like a bowl of delicious stew – a medley of flavors all blended together. I remember laughing with new friends because we all drank so much hot chocolate that we couldn’t stop running through the hallways and diving onto a big pile of pillows. I remember being cheered on pulling a sled filled with huge blocks of ice by a rope and pulley and collapsing exhausted and smiling with all the other folks at the end of the run, and eating hotdog after hotdog around a big fire melting down into the snow. I remember being impressed by just how huge the ice saws were, and how cool it was that I got to use one. I remember giving myself over to the goofiness of square dancing and having a blast. I remember shooting off jumps on a sled, big plates of great food, hugs and goodbyes on Monday morning, promises to keep in touch, and an intense want to go to camp that summer that I hadn’t had a few days prior.

Now it’s half a lifetime later and I’m still going to ice cutting every winter and Flying Cloud every summer. Thanks, Dad, for dragging me up to Vermont that chilly evening. I’m not sure what my life would look like if you hadn’t, and I’m not too curious, either – I can’t imagine one I’d rather have.

-Charlie

Come to Ice Cutting!

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