Winter, wonderful and wretched

I opened the curtains this morning to big flakes of snow falling under a gray sky and gave a yelp of delight. So fat and fluffy!
Why do I find snow falling so beautiful? I suppose some snowfall is less so, more driving slushy rain, or sideways snow pellets in a winter storm. Even this fluffy stuff can be challenging, I suppose, and truthfully, I am not out in it, walking a dog or driving to work.
When I see snow, I think instead of my recent skiing/tubing/snowshoeing outings with friends. Last time I shoveled a walkway, it was fun exercise at Matt’s parents’ house — but we were leaving the minus-20-degree weather soon after for plus-40 C Brisbane. That was a lark. Even going to college in Minnesota was a pampered snow experience — 70 F below with wind chill, but I only had to walk to class, not remove snow or drive in it.
So last week, when I rented a truck to help a friend move some furniture, it was the first time I had ever driven on ice as an adult. I read the AAA advice and was reminded of my ski lessons up in Wyoming a few weeks ago: look in the direction where you want to go, accelerate and decelerate slowly, and take your time using caution. I scraped the ice off the windshield and got underway, creeping around town. And while the truck was slipping around on uncleared side streets, light as a feather with an empty truck bed, I found that advice worked — just like being on skis, I might be able to learn to conduct myself safely over snow and ice in a vehicle.
But do I want to or need to? Why live in a wintry place? I grew up in California and didn’t own a real winter coat until I moved to Minnesota for school. Skiing is fun, but it’s not yet quite my thing. My nose hasn’t stopped bleeding slightly since I moved to Boulder’s mile-high elevation, and cold winter weather doesn’t help, even if the snow melts away a day or two after it falls and temperatures get practically balmy on some sunny afternoons. In Sweden, I don’t have to worry about driving in snow or shoveling it, but oh, the darkness! A lot of Swedes pack up for Thailand or other warm sunny places for weeks in winter. Why not just move? (A friend pointed out how light it is now at 5 pm here as the sun returns and I guffawed — I think it’s still getting dark at 4 pm in Stockholm now.)

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And yet, tying up my skates and slipping out onto the ice over the weekend, with the Rocky Mountains in the background, was so fun and comfortable — a season of skating on the rink near our house in Stockholm and on a lake nearby gave me balance and some skills I didn’t know I had (even if I can’t turn well or execute a hockey stop). There’s nothing like that feeling of getting it, of gliding on ice, or on skis on snow — I whooped every time I went down a hill on a blue track at the cross country resort this past weekend. Delightful! (And I didn’t fall or break anything! Wow!)
So here is the crux: I have been wondering if I like winter, here in Boulder or anywhere at all, and I think I might. Or at least, I might be able to learn how to like it. New things are good — disruptive, mind-bending, and exciting. Which makes me idly wonder: maybe moving south and learning to surf could be just as good… !

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