Valentine’s Day seems the perfect time to express my adoration for Winter. In all honesty, it’s a love I never imagined experiencing. Winter was always the cruelest of seasons, I thought. Endlessly long, yet filled with days which offered mere hours of daylight. Cold in a way that kept one indoors, in isolation. Yuck.
Our relationship was purely platonic at the start. It was a casual thing for many years, sort of a “friends with benefits situation.” If I had a little extra time, I could maybe work in an hour outdoors on my cross-country skis. Many people have a summer romance, but we had a winter fling. Winter certainly wasn’t something I was willing to build a life around. It was more a matter of convenience, a circumstance I’d be remiss to replicate in my romantic life, yet acceptable for a relationship physical in nature.
During the snowy years, we got a little more serious with each other and I found myself keeping my skis in my car “just in case.” I explored Capital Hills, familiarizing myself with the various trails, learning which spots tended to get icy and which direction to ski to witness the often stellar winter sunsets. I bought better cold weather gear and, repulsed by the false consistency of the treadmill, committed to running outdoors year round.
Winter challenged me and I responded with enthusiasm and devotion. Downhill skiing beckoned and I fell even deeper in love. The combination of adrenaline, fresh air and sunshine was intoxicating. Winter was no longer something to be survived, it became a season to savor. I realized recently that Winter has become my favorite season and I no longer wish it away as I may have in the past.
Sometimes we find love in the most unexpected places. Recognizing it, and embracing it with grace, makes our time here, and our hearts, feel remarkably full. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Filed under beauty, Exercise, favorites, holidays, Local, love, Normanskill, running, skiing, snow, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
It’s been a rough couple of weeks for those of us who like to exercise outdoors. I mean, 5 degrees on the plus side just doesn’t beckon to me, especially when the skies are grey and the wind is kicking up. After nearly a week without a run, I finally got out last Saturday during a break in the deep freeze. Of course, it was kind of snowing and rather messy, but damn it the thermometer was finally in the double digits and I needed to run.
Yaktrax in the snow
I’ve enjoyed winter runs and consider a layer of ice on the sidewalk to be an added challenge, along with a bit of a core workout. I like it. Layering up may be time consuming, but I have the right clothes and I love the time outdoors, traveling at my own pace. Saturday’s run required 4 layers and the addition of a new foul weather friend – Yaktrax.
I originally bought these “slip-on” grip enhancers last winter, but they languished in my running drawer until the other day. My hesitation to use them was based on fear – I was afraid that my feet would hurt or that I would feel awkward running on these springy-things. Fortunately, I was wrong. Once I figured out how to put them on they felt pretty light and were actually fairly unobtrusive for the first 3-4 miles. I had a great deal of traction and didn’t slip or slide at all while wearing them. I began to become more aware of them during mile five, feeling some new sensations in my lower legs, which may or may not have been from the Yaktrax. Either way, I’ll use them again and try to remember to pair them with an outer layer with pockets leaving myself the option of taking them off, if necessary.
Sunday morning, I got an email from Pineridge Cross Country Ski Area, an awesome old school ski area on the other side of the Hudson. This place has some of the most beautiful trails I’ve ever skied on and I was thrilled to receive notice that they had 25 km of trail open. After consulting with my runner girls, we made a plan to get ourselves to Poestenkill for a couple of hours of outdoor fun.
Neither Karen or Chrissy had ever skied here before and I was so happy to share this beautiful place with them. Chrissy offered me the job of “Life Tour Guide,” a career I think I could really get down with if only it was a real option. Although it was only about 13 degrees, there wasn’t any wind and the sun was reasonably bright. There may have also been a sip or two of homemade limoncello that provided a nice warm glow to our afternoon. We had a fantastic time and I hope to get out there again next weekend. At less than $20 for a trail pass and only a slightly more than 30 minute drive from the DelSo, it’s a bargain indulgence. Get there!
I began my day on the floor, next to Cassidy, my tears dripping on the softest fur a dog has ever had. That’s why we picked her, you know. In a litter of 11 beautiful black labs, she was different, wearing a lavender ribbon around her neck with fur that could only be described as fluffy. A dozen years later, her coat remains a marvel of softness.
Cassidy has been the only dog my boys have known. In her younger years, she was my cross-country skiing buddy, joyfully covering miles of the golf course with me each winter. For a number of years, we rented a house on the Cape which welcomed pets and Cassidy was a regular at the nearby pond, diving under the water to retrieve rocks. She has been a wonderful, wonderful pet.
In recent days, she has not been herself. There have been messy episodes which have required copious amounts of Nature’s Miracle to eliminate. Her appetite has been compromised and I scheduled a visit for the vet. My youngest, Q, asked to accompany me to the appointment. I hesitated, not knowing what the diagnosis might be, nor how he would respond to the bad news I anticipated. He earnestly told me this: “I’ve taken some punches, Mom. I’ve had up times and down times. I’ll be ok.” He came with me.
The visit was as expected. It seems that our girl has a tumor in her abdomen, more than likely cancer. She probably is experiencing some internal bleeding. I’m crying now. The vet gave me some medication to help with her bowels. He said to feed her whatever she wants to eat and to take her home any enjoy her. We’ll know when she needs us to let her go.
I made Cassidy turkey risotto this morning. I can’t stop looking at her resting peacefully and wondering how many more mornings I’ll awake to find her sleeping on the stained carpet at the foot of my bed.
No matter how hard you prepare yourself, the punch to the gut of losing a beloved pet always hurts. Even when your child dries your tears and tells you everything is going to be fine.
Yesterday was the first snow day my district has had this academic year – and it was well worth the wait. I understand that we don’t all have the luxury of a delayed start or the cancellation of our work day due to the weather and think you should know I am very appreciative of this career perk. I was so very thankful for yesterday’s surprise (2″-4″ was the forecast, I’d say 6″ or 7″ was the reality) snow day that I just might send my superintendent a thank you note. You know how I like to do that. Or, as my snow day, cross-country skiing partner in crime suggested, perhaps I should send that note of gratitude to the superintendent of my children’s district for not giving them the day off. I certainly have enough appreciation to spread it out, trust me.
As I spent my found day doing fun things, I realized that I had experienced a perfect snow day. Here are the factors which led me to that ultimate conclusion:
- The day off was completely unexpected. I would have been more than contented with a mere delay.
- Speaking of delays, the fact that the boys were delayed and I was off was an incredible gift. We had an easy morning and then there was quiet.
- Coffee with my favorite fellow was another unexpected treat.
- Skiing with one of my best hardcore exercise girls at Capital Hills on a day with incredible light and eventual warm temperatures. Spring skiing rocks!
- A terrific lunch at the golf course’s Club House. Seriously, the food was really good!
- Getting my Saturday chores done a day early. It almost feels like I was given 2 days!
- Afternoon coffee with my favorite fellow
- Making pizza with my boys
- A hot bath
- A reasonable bed time
The secret to homemade pizza? A HOT oven.
I hope you were able to enjoy the recent (bonus) snowfall but, if you didn’t, I think I had enough fun for both of us. You’re welcome!
Filed under Albany, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing
Despite the fact that the conditions were dangerously icy yesterday and I fell multiple times, jamming my thumb really hard once and landing on my ass hard enough to create a bruise that I almost felt compelled to name, I absolutely LOVE cross-country skiing. If you haven’t given it a try because you mistakenly believe it to be for old, slow people, you, my friend, are sadly mistaken. We’re at the point where we need a new snowfall to get the conditions back to where they had been for the past couple of weeks, but my own skis are in my car for the duration. There is no better time to be had than tooling around
Albany Muni Capital Hills with a couple of friends and a flask filled with homemade limoncello. That is upstate winter living at its finest!
View from a lower trail
Snow goddesses abound!
Spectacular sunsets, too!
Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, Normanskill, Recommendations, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
My goal for 2012 was to run one organized race or run per month and, if we take the number of races I ran and divide them by twelve, I accomplished my mission. As I removed my race numbers from my bulletin board, I arranged them, as any borderline obsessive would, in chronological order and noted a couple of things:
- I didn’t get a bib at last year’s (1/1/2012) Hangover Half/3.5, but I do remember running it.
- There wasn’t a race in February or July that worked for my schedule but I did run two in June, two in October and two in December.
- My fastest 5k time was 24:28 in the Treetops to Rooftops race in June. What can I say? It’s flat.
- I never imagined I would push myself to 10k as a distance, but I did register for, and complete, two 10ks in 2012. Woohoo!! I guess the 15k Stockadathon should be my new challenge?
- Albany’s Last Run is near and dear to my heart. Anytime I can run through Washington Park in the dark and feel comfortable and festive is a good time.
So, it’s a new year…what’s next? Well, I’ve got some different goals this year and, guess what? They’re not all about faster and further. Instead, I’m planning to shift the focus to pleasure and enjoying the scenery. I’m practically delirious by the thought of running in Amsterdam for the first time in 20+ years and hope to run in at least 5 countries this year. Yes, five! I’ll do my best to hit 15-20 miles a week and, as long as there is snow, feel free to mix it up by indulging in my love of cross-country skiing without guilt. Actually, without guilt, and with enjoyment, is my ultimate goal for 2013. How about you?
Today, without a doubt, was the best cross-country skiing I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy in the past 2 winters. The company, the conditions, the lighting, it was all perfect. The only thing that ever so slightly marred the afternoon was an exchange we observed between a couple as we headed up a hill following our loop through the back nine. We decided to climb one of the steeper hills rather than remain on the slightly groomed path that skirted around the golf course. As we duck walked up the hill, we watched a mom climbing up the hill with two sleds in tow, one of which had a cute passenger of about 3 years-old. As she steadily made her way up the hill, a man, comfortably ensconced at the top of the hill, yelled down to her. Words of encouragement, you might assume. Or, perhaps, an offer of assistance, right? No, it wasn’t either of those things he was conveying. What he said, repeatedly, was “You can’t do that” followed by “You know you can’t do that, don’t you?” I honestly don’t know if it is a function of my age or my personality, but I was immediately pissed. How dare he tell her what she was and was not capable of doing? Was she somehow internalizing his lack of confidence in her? How were those boys she was shepherding up the hill processing the man’s skepticism in her ability to help them to reach the top? I stared daggers at the guy as my friend and I not-so-quietly talked about what an ass he was. Screw him.