Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winter Sports

I can’t say I began downhill skiing when I was in high school, because that would paint the inaccurate picture that I am actually a downhill skier. If downhill skiing consisted of standing awkwardly, wobbly and ever so briefly on skis followed by long stretches of sliding down a hill on my butt, then by gosh I would be one heck of a downhill skier! No, I started attempting downhill skiing while in high school in the mid 1970s, using a rope tow while wearing knitted acrylic mittens. I can still feel the rope burns on the palms of my hands and the sea of interconnected, multicolored bruises on my derriere and thighs. Almost unbelievably I continued to try to downhill ski.

Around 1987, while standing in line to purchase downhill tickets, I had an epiphany: I was not a downhill skier. I walked away, drove to a ski shop that sold cross country skis, made my purchases and did not look back up that steep hill. I had never even been on cross country skis until I went over to my sister Karen’s home later that afternoon and snapped on my brand new skis. I glided ‘round and ‘round in her backyard. Turned out, I was a cross country skier.

In 1993, Chuck and I moved to this old house, set on four and a half acres. The first few winters we went cross country skiing around our property and in the fields across the road. Because our land is mostly wooded, the skiing was challenging. We often carried small pruning shears with us to trim low hanging branches which otherwise would thwack us in the face. It made for a lot of stop and go skiing. So we tended to ski in the fields instead. But we missed being in the woods.

Chuck had owned a pair of traditional snowshoes for many years. We decided to outfit me with a similar pair, rather than the new high tech kind. As you can see in the last photo, mine are more of an elongated oval, with more contemporary (read significantly easier) bindings. Chuck’s are the rounder ones with the old style (read pain in the neck) bindings. Both are bent wood, lashed with rawhide. They are lightweight, highly functional and easy to maneuver. I had found cross country skiing easy to learn, but snowshoeing was even easier. And the risk of falling was minimal. (As I type that, I remember one fateful trek when my right snowshoe plunged through the layers of snow, into a stream. My right leg was through the snow, up to my crotch, while my left leg and snowshoe were still on top of the snow, bent at a ridiculous angle, with my left knee at chin level!)

This afternoon we realized we had no obligations and a layer of fresh snow on top of a decent snow pack. It was sunny and just above freezing. What in heaven’s name were we doing inside? Out we went. I thought of all of you and brought the camera along in the hope of communicating what it felt like. I don’t know how many of you have ever snowshoed. If you never have, I hope this makes you want to try it!

First things first

The reason we strap on the snowshoes

Remember to look up

The tracks we leave behind

Hey Chuck, wait for me!

Navigating barbed wire and the stone wall

Until next time...


Sue said...

This looks incredible!!! I've only ever been in the snow once and it was just for a couple of hours. And it was only a couple of inches deep, so nothing note-worthy. I'd be out there every day and if you keep posting such tempting photos, you might have a few visitors on your hands!!

Anonymous said...

"the reason we strap on...." is now my beautiful new wallpaper.

I can't believe I am saying this but I am jealous, until I remember I am barbecuing this afternoon on my sunny patio in GA.



tonya said...

lovely. i'd give it a try but we haven't had any ground coverage this entire winter. crazy thing is that it has been colder than winter typically is in TN, much fewer 70 degree days.

you should have handed that camera off just once.

Pink Granite said...

Hi All -
Thanks so much for the enthusiastic responses!

Sue, we are so grateful for all four seasons! We heeded your advice and got back out there again today. It was fabulous!

Gail, I'm so glad to be able to send a beautiful image to your desktop. But barbecuing on your sunny patio sounds amazing for February! I do believe I'm feeling a bit envious...

Tonya, I think snowshoeing would be right up your alley - if we could just get the weather to cooperate!
And, truth be told, I do hand the camera off to Chuck along the way. But those photos live in the album!
- Lee