Sunday, December 4, 2011

First cross-country ski of the season

The streets are in that perfect state of snowpack after vehicles have driven on it, but before they’ve worn through it. The sun is shining, but not so much yet to destroy the snow.

I strap on the cross-country gear and ski circles around the neighborhood for an hour. The snow is thin, but sturdy, and the skis glide smoothly even as the pole tips hit pavement each time I plant them.

It’s heaven.

All things being equal, I’d rather exercise outdoors. If it’s warm, I want to be on a bike. When it’s cold, I want to be on skis. All things are not always equal around here, though. The single best word to describe weather here is “violent.” Thirty or forty mile an hour sustained winds. Snowstorms with blizzard winds that leave 4 feet of snow on my front porch and the faintest dusting on parts of the lawn. Golf ball sized hail that strip the trees, leaves falling like rain. The highways close on a semi-regular basis.

Nice mornings like this one, though, are heaven. Even better when I get in a meditative kick and glide, feel sun on my face, get a little downhill speed going on the next block. I’m not a racer, more of a long, slow distance person, and it feels like I could do this all day.

The snow is better and the traffic lighter on the east-west streets, but I like the modest hill on the north-south run. I step aside and wave when I see cars. Some of them wave back and give me an encouraging smile. Others drive by with a look of bewilderment, wondering what on earth I’m doing in the road.

On another day, I’ll take the car and go up to the real ski trails up the hill 30 miles an hour. It’ll be a day when the roads aren’t still “slick in spots” and there’s no blowing snow near the summit. For now, I’m grateful I live where the snowplows don’t run.

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