Last weekend Anuj and I intended to go skiing. Downhill skiing, that is. But we suffered a night of loud pops from our deck (more on that saga another time), and as a result, woke up late on Saturday. It was beautiful outside, and we wanted to take advantage of it – but making the drive for only a few hours of skiing seemed expensive and we didn’t have the energy. So we tried to find a local place to go ice skating instead, but the only options we could find were indoor rinks, and that didn’t sound as fun. We did find a resort in Lenox that featured photos of a beautiful outdoor rink on their website, complete with a rinkside fireplace. We called and were informed that the rink was for guests only, however, they did have cross country skiing trails which we were welcome to enjoy, and their sports shop rented skis for a reasonable fee.
I hadn’t skied since I was about twelve or thirteen – around the time my parents decided to buy the whole family cross country skis for Christmas. I remember coming downstairs on Christmas morning to find six pairs of skis lined up along the fireplace – they stood upright, tops leaning against the mantle, each pair shorter than the next (as the oldest of four, mine were somewhere in the middle). In front of the skis were matching ski boots lined up along the hearth. I was kind of bummed – skis? Nothing to unwrap? But I did put them to use that winter and a few more thereafter, as the woods behind our house had a whole bunch of snowmobile trails that made for easy cross country skiing. I remember enjoying it, but obviously not enough to do it again over the next twenty years. Did Anuj and I want to spend the rest of our afternoon attempting this unsexy sport? To my surprise, he was game, so off to Cranwell we went for some good old fashioned winter fun.
Cross country skiing has gotten a lot cooler since I was fourteen. At least the equipment has. You can’t see our boots in this shot, but they were super comfy and kinda stylish, too.
The act of skiing, however, hasn’t really changed: it’s a combination of peaceful and boring and arduous and fun. When I say peaceful I mean in a solitary way – because even when you’re skiing with someone else, the trails force you into single file which, if you’re in front as I was, leaves you alone to contemplate the landscape and your growing shortness of breath. Which brings me to arduous. Skiing is hard! It’s flat, sure, but you’ve got to push yourself along. The trail was actually the golf course, so we went the entire perimeter of eighteen holes, wearing about four layers of clothing. I sweat through my silk undershirt and finished the course flushed and panting like I had just come out of a Total Body Conditioning class at the gym. There were some hills that were fun to fly (and fall) down, and after turning our rental equipment back in, we agreed the activity would not be complete without a beer, so we found a sports bar, falling into our stools in exhaustion. Yes, the folks at the bar thought we had just come from downhill skiing, and yes, we were slightly embarrassed to admit that we had actually just come from Cranwell’s golf course, but it was a fun afternoon – and considering their investment in the sport twenty years ago, I bet my parents would be proud.