Wednesday, February 17, 2016


I borrowed the term "Winterlude" from a section of Neil Peart's "Ghost Rider," his personal journey of motorcycles and healing from the loss of both his daughter and wife in the same year.  Perhaps more on that some other day.

Suffice it to say Neil spent winters at his lake house in the woods somewhere outside Montreal and came to appreciate the cold and the snow.  Much as I have here in Maine.  Some winters are interminable and intolerable; others can offer bounty.

Saturday found me, not for the first time this year, in 20 degree weather, gliding on my cross country skis through soft snowshoe paths in the woods, climbing, exploring, descending, learning, balancing, and falling.  With technology come the benefits of GPS tracking, and I can even see where I've been and how long it took me to get there.  But the journey is the important part.  Does it really matter that I covered 4.96 miles at an average moving speed of 3.94 mph?  I knew I'd made progress by the way my legs responded joyfully to the request to climb the hill.  Progress!

Sunday was bitter cold, single digits and below zero over night.  What a difference a day makes.

Monday was back to the high teens and another exploration up and away across the hill.  Glorious! You could hear me shouting for joy as I completed sharp, fast turns on the narrow trails.  Turning on cross country skis is not at all like downhill.  It's a strange form of balance and technique, and like learning to ride a bicycle, the faster you go, the better you'll be.  I'm still learning.  I'm sure the felling trees (yes, they're doing some clearing this winter) could hear my whoops of joy.   For those who are curious: if you're in the woods, you can hear them too.

Tuesday I awoke to a fresh three inches of snow, but by 1:00 pm it was 50 degrees and it rained hard all afternoon.  In the evening I plugged in the pump and fought back the tide rising into the garage.  What a difference a day makes, indeed.

I've seen winter break and give up its stranglehold on Maine as late as the end of March, and more specifically during a walk on a March 30th, (the year I can't remember, maybe 2008) at 1:30 in the afternoon on a bright day and the temperature pushing a balmy 30 degrees.  One moment it was still the bright cold of winter, and the next it simply snapped and coiled away.  Gone.  This year, winter's hardly made an appearance, with just a handful of nights below zero, a couple of rainy thaws, and snow here and again.  Bummer of a year to own a snowmobile; kind of a let down if you're starting to get the vibe of cross country skiing.

But it will return next year.  And I'm pretty sure it's not done yet.  That said, the golf clubs need dusting and I've got some scoring to do come spring.

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