snow resiliency

February 17, 2011

The recent snowstorms forced many of us on vacation.

Not exactly what I had in mind when planning for some time off. I would rather spend my vacation time lying by the ocean. Others might prefer to traverse down a mountain in zero degree temperatures.

But trapped in our homes probably doesn’t top anyone’s list of preferences.

There’s exceptions to everything, and everyone, of course.

The majority of us, however, were clawing at the walls, knocking down doors and frantically shoveling our driveways before the sky could dump its second helping upon us.

A day after the second storm, cars were pushing through the powder; plows were erasing the evidence; life was finding a way. We were ready for that snow; it wasn’t going to keep us down.

There’s nothing like a week of home imprisonment to bring out the best in humankind. We are more forgiving, more patient, even helpful–just happy to be outside, to be mobile. I don’t think I’ve ever bounded so eagerly into the gym before.

But don’t worry, it, as all things, will pass.


my learning mountain

December 23, 2010

The whir of the ski lift. The chants of enraptured children. Skiers swishing effortlessly in a haze of white. Icicles clinging to my eyelashes.

I had never seen a place like this before. A place where “catching air” was more than a catchphrase. Where the brisk cold in your face is a welcome reward as you sweep down the hill.

I had never seen snow in these quantities. Growing up southern, snow days were a rare, but coveted, occurrence. While it only took a light layer of ice to bring everyone to a halt, even that did not happen often.

It’s a different life—up north.

In the north, anything under five inches of snow and ice is simply pushed to the side with nothing more than a resigned grunt and a zipped-up jacket. They live differently up there.

Here, in Oklahoma, we live with chilly, 20-degree days, and we still pray for spring.

Far from where I am right now.

My visibility went maybe five feet out, my toes feeling like frozen stubs, doing nothing for my balance, and my arms and chest ready to implode under three layers of long underwear.

After a three hour snowboarding lesson, I felt sufficiently confident in heading down the hill. However, latching on my board and exiting the ski lift were quite a different story.

It’s amazing more people don’t careen off these death traps, I thought as I eyed my dreaded exit, feeling my palms start to sweat. A friend tried to comfort me with the story of his old skiing buddy who would refuse to ski off the lift, forcing the attendant to stop all operations to allow her to vacate. I chuckled on the outside but pondered that option on the inside. If my fear of causing a scene were not so strong, I would have seriously considered that option.

However, being me, I opted for a slightly less humiliating dismount but far more comical, I’m sure, for the fortunate onlookers.

As I tumbled out and onto my knees, I thanked the winter gods for my hat and goggle cloaking devices. At least I was somewhat shielded from my embarrassment.

I stopped to buckle my other foot into place on my board, all the while wondering how others got over their harsh but supposedly liberating learning curve—liberating as I’ve been told by veteran riders; although, I find their encouragement sorely lacking, knowing that their days of snow-filled mouths and sore backsides were but a distant memory.

It’s funny though, how a moment of awkwardness can be so quickly forgotten when it is so briskly followed by minutes of sheer, dare I say it, liberation. Winter has never been an anticipated time of year for me. But with the rush of crisp air pulling at my eyelids, the sound of soft snow under foot, the embrace of towering evergreens and the smell of winter that only northerners can describe, I felt awakened in a sense previously unknown to me.

I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I realize the holidays have become synonymous with winter. Someone says “turkey,” people think of Thanksgiving dinner, even if they’re presently eating a snowcone in the middle of July. Another says “egg nog,” the person’s eyes light up with thoughts of white Christmases.

I am not bitter toward the holiday season. I’m really not. It’s a beautiful time of year. The crispness of the air. Steaming hot chocolate. Everyone claiming to be at one with all mankind. It’s sweet really.

The forthcoming comments do not spring from my abstinence from the holidays.

But, are the 30,000 snow globes littered across a front lawn really necessary?

We get it. You like Christmas. Maybe you even live for it just a little bit . . .

A few holiday lights say the same thing.

Still, the recent explosion of holiday decorations consisting of moving Santas, reindeer, baby Jesus’, penguins (?) and, again, the snowy snow globe has truly left no remotely-winter item untouched.

And yet, home owners are not content with one or two of these decorations. No, they are determined to completely inundate every centimeter of grass seen with the naked eye.

In addition, I have to ask, with the many brilliant men walking this earth, creating scientific equations to explain the body’s DNA and searching for an AIDS cure, could no one unearth a better solution for storing the inflatable penguins than having them disintegrate into a ball of pathetic-ness at three in the morning? This way, children can wake up, get ready for school, and, in the meantime, cry about the dead penguin next door–if they aren’t already crying out of fear of the creepy, electronically-rotating Santa that keeps staring at them from across the street.