Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Snow Means Skiing

What is it about a fresh snowfall that makes me practically giddy with excitement?  Is it the quiet that falls over the world? Is it the fresh beauty that is laid down over the muddled, marked, and used up landscape? Is it the promise made manifest that no matter how bad things look, they will always change?

I am not sure about the deeper ramifications of a simple snowfall; greater minds than mine have surely waxed poetic about the winter wonderland, so I will leave it to them to figure out.  What I do know is that when I hear a forecast that says five to nine inches of snow are possible, and close to eight inches are probable for my neck of the woods, I practically swoon with delight.  I am a child again looking forward to a possible snow day.  Except for me, a snow day isn't about not going to school or being able to skip out on my errands and chores. Rather, it means I can ski!

I will just say it. I am in love with cross-country skiing right now. You might be tempted to call it a marriage of convenience. After all, I can't run comfortably right now, but skiing feels a-ok.  However, skiing and I were first introduced a decade ago, and we've been friends ever since. It's only now, after my first love abandoned me, that our relationship has had the opportunity to blossom.

When we first moved to Wisconsin over ten years ago, we were coming north from the great state of Mississippi, where winter didn't have much meaning - at least not for this Michigan-born girl.  Moving to Wisconsin, I actually looked forward to snow and got excited about the possibility of trying some things I had never tried before - like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.  My parents, ever supportive, gave my husband and me for Christmas a set of cross-country skis, boots, and poles.  And, like kids delighted with a new toy, we couldn't wait to take them out to play.

Unfortunately, the weather didn't play along, and we spent the next several winters getting out maybe once or twice a season.  Then the kids came along, and the skis got pushed further and further back in the garage.

This winter has been different, however.  An activity that for years was but wishful thinking has become more of a reality. Good snowfall and being able to finally put the kids in ski lessons, combined with my running injury, have all motivated me to dust off the skis, get out the door, and really try to ski for exercise.  Now every chance I get, I am trying to ski. And what do you know? I really do enjoy it!

Skiing is something I actually feel fairly natural at. I am not a downhill skier, so I didn't have to relearn any techniques. I like the quiet swooshing sound the skis make. I like the feeling of gliding. It feels very graceful.  Each time I get out there, I feel a teensy bit more confident. Years ago when I first skied I felt wobbly pretty much the whole time.  Balancing on one leg to propel myself forward made me feel awkward. Now I feel graceful, efficient even. The balance doesn't seem to be the problem it once was and I am more confident about being able to lift my skis and place them where I want them.

Even though I ski classical, I don't have a problem skiing outside the groomed tracks and sometimes rather enjoy that option.  I am still no good at going up hills, and I am a big baby when it comes to downhills.  Even small hills can set my heart to thumping with dread.  But, it is saying something, that when faced recently with a steeper-than-normal descent paired with a curve at the bottom where two trails converged, I still opted to go down it - even knowing with 90-percent certainty that I was going to wipe out at the bottom.

And, I did.

Wipe out, that is.

I flew down the hill, halfway managed the curve, but towards the end of the run I fell over just before I would have slammed into a wooden trail marker.  I still shake my head in amazement that that fall didn't ruin skiing for me forever. The fact is, though, that I can't wait to get out again - and I would even consider taking on that hill again.

So, bring on the snow! I will accept the limitations with driving. And, I will not complain (too much) about the multiple rounds of shoveling.

As long as I can get out and ski this week, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! 

Our Christmas tree this year. After doing its duty inside, I plopped it in the snow
outside, and much to my surprise it stayed upright. Even through some windy days, it has
continued to grace our home with its evergreen beauty. Some may think this is a bit
low class, kind of like letting a car rust in your backyard.  I prefer to think of it as upcycling.
When it falls over, I will take it to the yard waste drop-off site. 

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