This extended late winter weather has provided a bonus round of cross country skiing. It’s a particular kind of cross country skiing – sliding on what yesterday was a layer of slush but this mornings is a hard crust.
Throughout most of the winter, I have my favorite trails to follow and like a meadow vole I stick to those runways. Must be my goal orientedness (is that a word?). I like to know how far I skied and how long it took me to do so. The past few mornings, though, I’ve gone off track. Off track in a good way. I just go out and go in which ever direction I feel like going with no real plan. I don’t know how far I’ve gone. I do know it’s been great fun.
A topo map of our property would look like a blank piece of paper. There is not a single contour line. Sounds like a boring ski, and I generally do prefer skiing in some topographic relief. But these aimless wandering skis over our flat terrain have been a real delight. First, skiing over the hay fields brings out a Walter Mitty feeling of skiing across the trackless arctic (except it’s only for an hour and I get to retreat to a warm house*). Also, the prevailing NW winds over the winter have driven the snowfalls into drifts downwind of the scattered shrubs. Sliding up and down and around the drifts offers another Walter Mitty feeling of skiing big moguls.
It’s not all fantasy though. And it’s not about ‘oh, now I feel recharged to get on with the day’s tasks.’ Or not totally anyway. And it’s not just ‘oh, good, I’m burning off that delicious but very large piece of home-made apple pie with an all butter crust I ate last night.’ Not totally. It’s mostly an in-the-moment, having-fun- right now kind of sensation. The idea of ‘as much fun as you can have with your clothes on’ did go through my mind. The other aspects are added benefit, but it’s all about the fun. It’s the same sensations derived from bicycling down an open road. And that season is coming real soon.
*I recently finished Adam Gopnik’s book “Winter: Five Windows on the Season.” It’s a good read, wildly rambling through history, humanities, sports, global climate change. His contention is that winter only became thought of as a pleasurable time of year once central heating was invented. I would agree with that. Winter activities are enjoyable only if one can then go back to one’s nice warm abode.