I like – most of the time – that we live in a rural area with natural hills and valleys.

I curse the valleys sometimes when my cell phone service won’t come in downtown.

But like everyone who’s made a life out here, I also have my favorite local hills. Each with their own memories.

The sledding hills, of course.

The hill far out in the country from the top of which – if you squint – you can just make out the MG&E stacks in downtown Madison. In mid-January, the whipping wind here can take your breath way.

When we first moved here I had a small car with a three-cylinder engine. You could either run the air conditioning or drive up a hill.

I once slid all the way down a neighborhood hill in a trendy little sports car in a late-night blizzard. Back in the day when I drove a trendy little sports car.

There are hills I’ve pulled toddlers up in wagons, hills I’ve pushed bikes up and hills I’ve run up and down in an exhausting and sweaty attempt to get healthy.

Hills I’ve rolled down, grass-stained, with my kids when they were small.

There’s the top of a hill on DNR land where I once regularly stood, throwing a tennis ball to a young dog with unending energy.

I’ve heard stories, from people who have lived here a very long time, about hunting rabbits on local hills. About sledding on downtown hills. Trudging up and down wooded hills on the way to country school. Horses pulling wagons up snowy hills at Christmastime. An entire village moving to the top of a hill to be near the railroad tracks, whose operators didn’t want to deal with lowland floodwaters.

We all have our memories.

When we’re gone, the hills will remain. They’ll whisper our stories when we no longer can.

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