Pushing the Season

fullsizeoutput_8788

I wore gloves because the steering wheel was so cold. My daughter, in the passenger’s seat, covered herself in a blanket as we drove out the driveway. A couple of miles from home I glanced at the car thermometer. It had warmed up to -5ºF. Then I glanced in the rear view mirror. Following us was a guy on a motorcycle.

We were driving about 45 miles per hour at that point. It was hard to tell exactly what the guy was wearing but he was wearing white shoes–running shoes, tennis shoes, something like that. At a stop sign he pulled over to adjust his helmet, right behind us, so I could tell it was a he. At least he was wearing big fat mittens. One hardy guy, ready for spring.

A few more miles up the road I had to swing wide to pass a bicyclist. This person wore a  reflective vest similar to the one on the motorcyclist, so at least he was going for high visibility. In warm weather along that stretch I feel a sense of bafflement at why so many people on bicycles do not ride on the bike path, which is right next to the road. Why skirt auto traffic when there is a smooth and safer path right there? But today that bike path was covered in snow and ice. It was not smooth or safer. So I passed widely and offered a Godspeed. That dude was just as hardy.

I am looking forward to spring as well (although I have enjoyed skiing the field lately) but below-zero biking? Imagine standing out in below zero temperatures facing a sustained 45 mile per hour wind. That was the motorcycle dude. And a bicycle isn’t much warmer, despite the self-propulsion factor, when the temperature is so low.

Hats off to those two hardy fellows, but I have news for you. Wanting spring does not make it arrive. Acting like it is warm does not make it so. Still, I have to admire them. Even if I had extra time to bike, or was crazy enough about fuel efficiency to choose a motorcycle, I don’t think I would push the season quite so. For activities such as that, I will wait for spring to actually arrive.

Advertisements

Ah, December

It is finally cold. Waiting for the bus is a chilly experience. The puddles are skimmed with ice. The wind bites. I wear my orange knit hat out and about. The woodstove radiates.

Holiday music plays everywhere. Too much of it is twangy countrified versions of holiday classics.  Who needs that crap? I guess lots of people like it, however.  Who am I to judge poor taste?

Snow flurries keep spitting. One of these days we will get a full on storm with real snow. Ideally this happens before teh 25th. We celebrate that winter holiday in this house. And the solstice.  I have been rising early to run still. These days it is pretty dang dark when I do so. Porch lights are on and my headlamp gets as much a workout as I do. I might have to have a big old party to celebrate the solstice this year.

I have these slip-on boots from L.L. Bean that I wear in the winter pretty much every day. One of them has a big old tear in it.  I should have sent them back this summer but who remembers winter boots in the summer? I still should send them back. I bet they would replace them. They did rip unexpectedly. It’s not like a was jumping over a barbed wire fence or something. I noticed it walking down our driveway. Not a high impact activity. What will I do without my boots? I have missed them lately.

The year has just about wrapped up. I might start thinking about resolutions so I am prepared when January hits. Blog every day? Run a marathon? Read some book I have wanted to read? I’ll think about that later. I want to think about doing good deeds this month, and giving gifts to those I love, and baking desserts. Chocolate covered lemon cake anyone?

Now that would be the way to celebrate the season, baby.

“Night” Skiing

We went up as a family to Bolton Valley this evening for one last bout of night skiing.  The last time I did this was with my daughter, just the two of us, before the daylight savings shenanigans; we skied under the lights and had a blast.  The children were disappointed that there was still plenty of daylight tonight.  We left just after 7:00, the sun setting as we walked back to the car.

Since we lived up at Bolton Valley, we have known that this time of year one can find some of the best skiing to be had.  There is plenty of snow by now and the days are warm enough to soften up even the gnarliest ice.  And now we have sunlight so late that it is more enjoyable than working with the shadows of the bright lights.  In December scores of people are on the mountain.  Often it is icy and thin and crowded and that, I can tell you, is not what I’m talking about.

People get sick of skiing once the warm weather hits.  School skiing programs end.  I think a lot of people kind of forget about it.  They start biking and skateboarding and whatnot.  Spring activities get underway.  Who wants more snow?  At least it seems that is the question that gets asked.  But it really is the time to hit the slopes.  Spring skiing means warm air, fewer people and lots of snow.  What’s not to like?

We were not up there long tonight.  We did a few runs, ate the light dinner we brought, shared a waffle from the waffle cabin and headed home in the fading light.  We will head up again tomorrow to ski with friends.  We are now debating whether or not to purchase season’s passes for next year.  My daughter is now old enough that we need to purchase a pass for her.  With the current prices (“low” for now, soon to rise) it would cost us over a thousand bucks.  Is it worth it?

If we go as many times as this year, and take advantage of discounts and deals when we find them, we might come out even or even ahead when it comes to the bottom line.  The problem is that without passes we will likely go less.  Every time we consider going it will become a financial decision–Do we want to spend a hundred bucks for a couple of runs? Some of those times we will decide not to go because our answer will be no.  Do we want to decide whether we go today or wait until tomorrow?  Or do we want to decide whether we go skiing this weekend at all?

It is a tough call.  I get that we are fortunate enough to be in the position of parsing the details of this question.  I want our kids to learn to ski or ride and choose for themselves if it is a sport they want to pursue.  That means getting them out when they are young.  Just going a handful of times would be fun, but to really learn it they need to do it a lot.  Whether we get passes or not we are talking some bucks.

We had a good time tonight.  Since we spent the money on passes months ago, we had the incentive to go so we get our money’s worth, and we also could feel fine with just a few runs.  Next year could be a different story.

Holiday Cards

I spent a good chunk of time today creating a holiday card.  We used to buy a box of cards and write something interesting inside and then send them to family and friends.  We never went with the photo cards where we had to drop off the negative and then pick up the cards a few days later.   It just never seemed worth the effort.

Now, however, one can simply upload digital photographs to a handy web site, choose from a variety of card layouts with multiple photos, pay by credit card, and wait for them to come in the mail.  That is what I spent my time on today.  What took the biggest bit of time was selecting the photos.  We have lots of photos but few fit the criteria.

The photos had to:

  • Have good composition, meaning they had to be good photographs in general
  • Contain a mix of seasons (not all from the summer, not all from the winter)
  • Show each of us at least once, with a preference for the children
  • Not show any of us in every photo

I think I did well.  I went with four photos, rather than nine to keep a balanced square.  That would have taken even longer.  I clicked the “purchase” button and they should be here soon.  Then we need to write personal notes and addresses and send them off.

I look forward to getting cards as well as sending them.  My parents used to hang them along a doorway, then along the wall when that was filled.  It was a part of the holidays I enjoyed and remember.  We always hear from someone we have not seen or heard from on a while.  It seems the one time of year when being in touch happens for many people.

We might have gone with e-cards, to save paper and greenhouse gases, and money for that matter.  But they just don’t feel the same.  You can’t hang an e-card on the wall or read it as you walk back from the mailbox in the snow.  The children can’t line up e-cards on the floor and sort them.  It is a conscious choice to send paper cards.  It is worth it.  Holiday cards are a part of the season and I look forward to them.  Even thinking about hearing from friends and family makes me smile.  With the cold and snow lately, I say bring on the holidays.