I have always been in love with the snow. There is something about its perfect crystal whiteness that transports me to happiness. On frozen blizzard nights, when sensible people stay safely indoors by cozy fireplaces, while their children sleep snug as bugs in a rug in warm beds, covered by blankets and fluffy down comforters, I walk alone in the wind-whipped snow, down lonely pine-trimmed lanes. My fascination began when I was a child. On cold winter mornings and frozen afternoons I would play in the snow until, red-cheeked and frozen-fingered, I was called indoors by my mother. She'd hand me hot chocolate and then dry my soaking clothes, boots and gloves by the fireplace. As soon as my clothes were dry and I had slipped them back on, I'd run back outside again to the snowy whiteness of our backyard, where I'd play happily until the sun set, and the first stars of evening began to appear. I probably would have grown up to be a doctor (as my mother wished), or gone on to law school and become an attorney (as my father advised) if, on my seventh birthday, my grandparents hadn't given me my first sled. It was a bleached oak Flexible Flyer with fire-engine red steel runners. The words "Flexible Flyer" were proudly stenciled in big black letters, for all the world to see, across the top of its blond oak body. I spent the better part of that winter - and many winters that followed - on top of my Flexible Flyer, rapidly rushing down every steep snow-covered slope I could find.