I’m in denial – I’m not denying that. It happens every year. A part of me is denying that winter is really on its way. I used to love winter, and I don’t just mean when I was a kid. I’ve loved winter as an adult. You see, I used to cross-country ski. From the time I was in high school until I had kids, and that’s 15 years, I XC skied every chance I got. I had friends and family who also loved XC skiing so someone was always ready to go.
We would go out for an hour or the whole day and ski in all sorts of weather. We ate a packed lunch outside on the trails and took in the white, the blue, the shadows and the quiet. It’s so quiet in the deep Wisconsin woods on a Sunday in February. We skied groomed or ungroomed trails. Groomed trails are nice but they can be crowded. Skiers in groups, jibba jabba, jibba jabba. If you wanted complete solitude, like my husband did, (boyfriend at the time, he was perhaps testing my mettle), you found the ungroomed trails.
He was always faster than me so he would ski on ahead, burn some energy and double back and re-ski the trail with me at my pace. That way we were together and alone. He’s always been a long distance runner so he could be three-quarter of a mile ahead of me, but sounds carries so well in the quiet woods that even at that distance, it was like we could still hear each other. Whoosh, whoooosh.
He never got too far away because he had the pack with the lunch and the whiskey. Pack light but pack a punch. Those were the days. We both still have our equipment in the basement. Probably would need new boots but the skis would just need a quick refurb at an outfitters. Every year I think I’m going to get back out there. We’ve got more time now. The kids are older. It’s a heady peaceful in the woods no matter what time of year it is, but especially in the winter. Just you, the cold, those crazy jumping bugs on top of the snow, the shadows and the deep quiet.
And the whiskey.