the song of the open sleigh


jingle bells
Jingle Bells is not a Christmas carol, it’s a winter carol. It’s a song of the open air and the scent of fir trees. It follows the rhythm of the harness bells, the steam rising from the horses’ flanks as they pull the heavy sleigh, the tug and creak of the runners as they slide across the snow. It’s a song of friends and family, hot cups of chocolate held in mittened hands.

The most magical sleigh rides are at night. I remember going out with a group in my university days on a long ride across fields and through the woods. It was a clear still night, the temperature hovering around minus 15 celcius, the air so cold it made our eyes tear up. At first, there was lots of chatter, laughter, singing. Then gradually our voices died away, and in the silence we could hear only the steady stamp of the horses’ hoofs, the jingle of the harness, the creak of the sleigh. It was a moonless night, so I felt — rather than saw — the shapes of trees as we passed. I looked up and the sky was filled with stars; they seemed almost close enough to touch. As the sleigh glided through the snowy fields, I watched the sky and felt like I was flying.

I’m glad they still have sleigh rides in the park, pulled by horses instead of machines. There’s no modern equivalent to the old-fashioned pleasure of riding in an open sleigh.

Photo taken on January 16, 2011

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9 thoughts on “the song of the open sleigh

  1. Beautiful post! It inspires me to actually pull myself together and go on one of those sleigh rides in Rockwood Park. Still haven’t gotten around to it.

    • I checked awhile ago to see about the sleigh rides, and I guess you have to book them ahead of time as a group, you can’t just show up for a ride. Hmm… I wonder how hard it would be to get a group together…?

  2. You are so lucky to have sleigh rides in the park. The probably wouldn’t do it here in the States — too worried about the liability. As much as I have been around horses, I have never been behind a driving horse. Not, that is something to add to my bucket list.

    • I would be surprised and dismayed if sleigh rides weren’t allowed there — haven’t I seen photos of carriage rides in New Orleans and through Central Park? Or maybe horse-drawn vehicles seem safer if they have wheels on them. But you’d think, since you are out in the country (right?), there might be someone with an old sleigh in the barn…

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