Winter Preview

Banff - Jasper Parkway,  Banff National Park

October 30, 2010

Winter is here.  It is lurking up in the mountains, but the snow on the peaks makes it clear it has arrived.  Right now, at our home, between the prairies and the edge of the foothills, we are living in an Indian Summer (thank you!).  However, last week, with the snow blowing through the air before it hit the ground and quickly melted, my bones told me to prepare for the inevitable.

I know I’m presenting a sense of wariness about winter, but it never used to be that way.  November was the time to get out the skates, skis, toboggans, winter duds, and put on the winter tyres.  This was a transition in accoutrements that I enjoyed.  I especially liked getting out the winter coats again, because they were decked out with pockets and compartments for a guy to carry around all sorts of mens’ toys along with the gloves and toques.

The first day out at the community park using the first hose to start building up the ice for skating, always gave me a sense of satisfaction.  Mind you, I questioned my sanity when later in the season a Chinook wind would roll in and turn my hard work to mush.  Nevertheless, seeing the kids and families out enjoying a skate on a Sunday afternoon was a reward.

Although I enjoyed downhill skiing, after I had a serious knee injury in 1973 cross-country became my passion and, to some degree, it still is.  My interest has waned somewhat, because of the cold I now feel in my extremities.  I never got cold toes and fingers in years gone by, but now that seems to be the norm when I’m skiing, and I don’t like it.  My older friends and some of my peers who have experienced the same thing tell me to buy warmer gloves and get on with it.  No whining permitted in that crowd, for sure.

I will get out to the hills and trails when some more snow arrives and get this well used body into gear again on my skis.  What continues to draw me out, regardless of the changes I feel, are the pristine sights of the snow in the back country.  A trip out in fresh snow with the ice crystals sparkling on the surface and the muffled quietness of the woods around me is one of those life moments that I want to keep repeating for as along as I can.