Winter always makes a very credible attempt to kick me in the arse. I am not a creature of snow and ice. I am also not a creature of darkness. I am a spring and fall sort of person; one who loves daylight in all its manifestations and one who has to struggle to survive winter every damned year. Living in Canada, specifically in Newfoundland, means that days are quite short from December through March and the sun’s rays are decidedly weak when they do show up.
Each January (Christmas gets me through December just fine) I have to fight the urge to buy an electric fireplace, curl up in front of it under a blankie with some knitting while eating macaroni and cheese, only coming out sometime towards the end of March, when the days get longer.
For the past couple of winters, I have attempted to fight back more vigorously. Last year I ran and coached running during the Months of Darkness. This year I could feel myself slipping towards the abyss that yawned before me on this seemingly never-ending Hibernal Glacier. I started making macaroni and cheese. I began to knit more warm things. I priced fireplaces. It was not looking good.
Then we actually got some snow. Until the end of January, we really hadn’t seen much of the white stuff, so traditional winter activities were more or less out of the question. Generally winter sports aren’t my cup of tea anyway, but I was getting to the point of being sufficiently fed up with driving off the road shoulders into ditches to avoid on-coming cars while running, that I started to countenance the concept. John gave me a nice set of snowshoes for Christmas, so after the first real snow, I tried them out. They worked great and I discovered that the fitness gleaned through slogging through slush was standing me in good stead. Snowshoeing was easy AND fun. So I started thinking bigger.
I have maintained for many years that if we actually got a full week’s worth of ski-able snow, I would start skiing again. This was more or less an idle threat in recent years, since the winters have been decidedly unpredictable and snow somewhat sparse. It looks like this winter is a different beastie, though, and so we dug out what ski equipment we could find. The result was a set of old bamboo poles, a pair of three-pin-binding skis that were too long for me and too short for John, a pair of similar skis that were de-laminating spectacularly and absolutely no ski boots.
Plus we had no gear for Katherine.
So we strolled on down to the local second-hand sports shop only to find that they were having a going out of business sale and had what we needed for more or less what we were willing to pay*. We got new boots to fit modern bindings, second-hand skis and new bindings for both me and John and outfitted Katherine with entry-level gear suitable for her size, all for about a sixth of what we would have paid new.
Then we hit the trails up around Pippy Park and have been skiing in lieu of running ever since. Katherine took to it like a natural and both John and I have been rediscovering how much damned fun it can be. The area is lit at night, the trails are groomed daily and there are plenty of people around for safety in the evenings. It’s a really pleasant change and one that is making me actually look forward to the 30cm (that’s about a foot) of snow that’s to come tonight.
This weekend: Butterpot Park!
* While we would certainly have gotten much better service and equipment at The Outfitters, (which is where I would recommend anyone around here go for new ski gear) we don’t feel that we can justify spending thousands of dollars on good equipment at this point. If we stick at it for a couple of years, I’m sure we’ll upgrade bit by bit.