My family pooled together and bought me cross country skis for
Christmas. My immediate reaction was
skepticism. I used to cross country ski;
I used to ski several times per week. It
used to be one of my favorite outdoor activities, regardless of season. But I haven’t skied in 20 years or
more. I gave it up because I couldn’t
convince anyone in my family to share my passion. So, we did the things that they liked to do.
New skis. What
were they thinking? I guess they were
thinking that now that they are all grown up and out with families of their
own, and since I have retired, I may want to take up some of the things I used
to love. I know what I was
thinking. I was thinking that 62 going
on 63 is a heck of a time to take up cross country skiing again. I was thinking that while my surgeon said
that my new hip should hold up just fine, I was wondering if I wanted to take
the risk to see if he was right.
Nature made sure that I had some time to adjust. First there was no snow. Then we had the long bitter cold
stretch. I remember skiing in below zero
weather in my college days without a second thought, but it had no appeal to me
this time around.
But today was the day.
The trails were supposed to be in good shape and with a high in the 20’s
the conditions were right. I headed for
Barkhausen Nature Area along the west shore of Green Bay. I remembered that I had only skied there once
before. I never went back because I found
it relatively unexciting because it is flat all the way around. Today unexciting sounded good to me.
The first mile brought to mind when Thumper sees Bambi
the first time and the newborn deer is struggling to find his balance. Thumper observes, “Kind of wobbly, ain’t
he?” So, nagging doubt skied along with me for
the first stretch.
I had figured on skiing the Shore trail which is the
longest one there. Five miles sounded
doable considering I do 6 miles on the elliptical machine each morning at the
Y. So, when I got to the first trail
cutoff, despite the doubt I stayed left on the longer trail with the hope that it would get better.
It was about
the time that I skied past the two-mile marker that I realized that it actually
had gotten better. Sure, there was an
occasional slip, but I was feeling better about things. As I passed the three-mile marker I had found a
more confident stride. I began to
remember that not only was this fun at one point in my life, and I had a building confidence that it really
could be fun again. I still love the
quiet and stark beauty of the winter woods.
I finished the big loop and made it to the parking lot feeling good. Maybe next time I’ll go at least part way
around a second time. There are few
discoveries as important as finding yourself again. God smiles when we do that.
PS, I originally wrote
this three years ago. This winter is
again conspiring against me as the trails went from bare to just the right kind
of snow followed by extended subzero temperatures and now to an almost
unprecedented above normal stretch that has melted almost the entire snowpack. Despite getting a new knee last August I am
anxiously hoping for good snow followed by an extended period of temps in the
20’s so I can get back out there. My heart,
mind and skis are ready!
His Peace <><