Winter is my season right? It is when i must be at my strongest. in order to rest peacefully at night, i tuck myself under the assured weight of confidence that i can handle what might come at me. that i’m trained up for the worst-case scenario.
and so i learned to ski. cross country ski.
i tried a few times as a kid, and could never get it. could never keep my feet under me going down through the trees at Cherry Hill Road. i tried again a few times here and there since moving to Dubois, but when i had my druthers, i went backcountry snowboarding instead.
and then i learned about Crit in my belly. i swapped the split board for a pair of Tracker skis and leather boots that were a few sizes too big. i went out frequently. i fell overandover again. i kept trying. i wanted to be comfortable and confident enough to take “the baby” out with me the next winter.
the next winter, i was pregnant again, and working full time. i still went out. and i was patient with myself. i tried to honor what i could do, and not dwell on all that i could not do. i got better. one in the belly and one on the back was a lot to balance for a girl who was just beginning to feel-her-feet under her.
the next winter was as good as it gets – i thought.
Deep Woods worked from the Chalet in the backyard. Notch was a few months old and taking two solid naps a day. I’d get up with him at 5am. We’d cuddle on the couch and watch the sun come up together justlikewealwaysdo. When he went in for his nap at 9am, Crit and i loaded into the Pathfinder and went skiing. several days a week, all winter long. she was in my backpack. and she chatted and chatted and chatted the whole time we were out. except for once.
one time. we were in deep silence. the kind that only comes from the woods that are hushed with freshly fallen snow. lots of it. we stopped along a fence line. and a dog crossed our path just in front of us. only we were a couple of miles from the road. it wasn’t a dog. it was the crossing guard. it stopped and sat and blocked us. then three more wolves crossed behind the guard and ran up into the timber. they paused to look back, but not for long. there were more. they all crossed, and then the first one took his gaze off us and swiftly danced up the hill. and then one last wolf crossed. it was one of the life-stands-still moments where everything happens in slow motion and all your sensory organs are receptive to the experience of it all. the silence was heavyandlight.
by the end of that winter, i bought the ski attachment for the Chariot so i could take them both skiing with me the next year. and i did. and it was T.O.U.G.H. i was training for the bike ride then, so tough was good. and i got better. by then, i loved cross country skiing. maybe close to as much as biking and broom ball.
as if the story could get any better, we then moved out to paradise for the next winter. and i was home alone in heaps and heaps of snow with Crit and Notch. and we had the Chariot. but never a groomed trail. i skied as far as i could with those yahoos in every direction. the Chariot was often high-centered, and i dragged it overthemeadowsandthroughthewoods. i had too. if i didn’t make that effort, i would have surely lost my marbles. that was four winters ago.
back then, when DW returned after work in the dark, i sometimes greeted him at the door with my ski boots on and dinner in the oven. i needed to.get.out. i’d head out the front door and up to the Horse Creek Trail road. i would ski myself to peace and then turn around. after my body and my mind received some clarity, i could focus on going home. miles away from the ranch, from the base of Elkhorn Ridge, i could see our Christmas lights glowing. the only sign of life in the winter valley. there are few things that make my heart swell so full as when i am out alone on a winter night, in the dark, skiing home to my family with our Christmas lights as my beacon.
this year, all our snow melted the same weekend i put out the Christmas lights. so i have not had that experience that i associate with my happiness this time of year. and i was totally razzamafrazzama about it. absolutely focusing on the one thing that i could not do, instead of the ba-zaliions of things that i can. it got worse once i heard there was no snow in the forecast for at least two weeks!
On Friday, the peeps had no school. It was a beautiful day. we spent it at the pond. shoveling. and shoveling. and they got to goof off in the sunshine. i worked past dark to clear off a small section. We left the next morning for a Jackson over-nighter. Team Neidens went to the theater to see a ballet together. and then we swung by the consignment sports shop and scooped Notch up a pair of hockey skates. we had a fabulously fun time with Czas and Joe and Buff. we returned back to the Moose Willow just as the sun ducks out from the valley. We laced up and hit the ice.
i couldn’t stop smiling. we watched and felt the sunset sweep across us as we took laps. we choo-choo trained. we sling-shotted. we skateboard techniqued. it was a real blast.
i know the snow is coming. i just got a wee bit attached to expectation for a moment. glad the moment is over.