Backyard Skiing

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While I sit watching the snow fall, I can’t help contemplating the last snowstorm. Near zero temps and 2 feet of snow provided a base for snow play that lasted nearly 2 weeks here in Northern Arizona.

Whereas last time my chainsaw needed parts, I had already gone through all my cut wood, and my woodstove glass was broken, this time I am sitting in front of a toasty fire with a sizeable stack of wood nearby and more outside. We are stocked up with popcorn and cocoa and have hot and cold water running through heat-taped pipes. (It’s the little things.)

With all that snow on the ground for so long, I was inspired by the cross-country skiers I spied in Flagstaff when we were snowed in there. When we got home, I discovered a frozen pipe and drove to the next town for parts. Back home again, I went into the storage shed for some insulation, and, lo and behold, there were my old downhill skis. Not just mine but also my grown childrens’ old skis, and sure enough we found a pair with boots that fit my 6-year-old son.

Now, I am a convert to cross-country skiing, having first learned downhill by being taken to the top of the steepest run and left to make my way down as best I could. Ha, ha. I enjoyed many years of downhill on more sensible slopes after that. My first experience with cross-country skiing came on a ski trip in Yosemite National Park (on real cross country skis). The first day was all uphill. I can’t seem to learn anything the easy way. After that trip my downhill skis entered their second life as semi-cross-country skis. By leaving the boots unbuckled, one can achieve a fair semblance of cross country skiing. And by the way, did I mention you can also avoid paying those outrageous prices for lift tickets? I enjoyed several FREE days in the woods with my semi-cross-country skis, a thermos of hot soup, and a thermos of hot cocoa.

After moving to Arizona, the skis did not get much use. Either we didn’t have enough snow, or I was too busy working. Now with my priorities reordered, skiing has a chance to get its fair share of time. I took out the skis, boots and poles and outfitted my son. I told him to wait there while I got my skis and boots on. He didn’t. So he spent his first 20 minutes on skis learning the most important lesson – how to get back up. After showing him how to use the ski poles to help himself, I managed to get my boots adjusted and snapped into my skis. With just a few pointers about keeping his skis straight, not crossing them, steering, stopping, and balancing with the poles, he was off skiing. We skied all around the property every day until the snow melted, coming in to warm ourselves in front of the fire and drink hot cocoa in our own private ski lodge. Then we stored the skis away in the closet. I hear them in there now, pawing at the door, trying to get out. Just a few more inches of snow …