Category Archives: skiing

Skiing with my Uncle Wolfgang

Last week’s epic snowstorm provided an unexpected early December treat – the chance to cross-country ski at Albany Muni. I got out there four days and the conditions just kept getting better. It was awesome and Jeter and I loved every minute of it.

Other than the first day when I skied with a friend, it was just me, my dog and nearly two feet of snow. Sort of. Skiing solo provides lots of time for thoughts and when I cross country ski I can’t help but think of my Uncle Wolfgang. He, too, was a cross country skier, albeit much more accomplished than I. Wolfgang, my mother’s youngest brother, was a competitive biathlete in Germany and, as I ski, I do my best to glide with the grace and strength he once did.

As my eyes took in the beauty of the snow covered golf course and my lower back became damp from my exertions, my head filled with memories of my Uncle. He and I, along with his wife and a Lilly boy or two, took some great road trips together around Europe. Wolfgang and Brigitte were great travelers and I have wonderful memories of sharing time with them in Paris, Amsterdam, NYC and, our last trip, Berlin. I miss him and will always be sad that he was taken so fast and furiously by cancer just weeks after we parted in Berlin.

But, I feel him with me, deep inside, and I truly understand the sentiment about how you never really lose someone you love as long as you have memories of time shared. I get it now and it gives me so much comfort and peace to know he won’t ever be gone.

I started thinking about all the little things I do that immediately remind me of people who no longer walk the earth beside me. When I chop vegetables, I remember Len, who taught me how to hold a knife. As I put together a salad in the metal bowl I insisted upon getting in the divorce, I think of my mother-in-law and her inability to not give her son and I something to take with us each time we left her house. If I see a deer dead on the side of the road, I recall my friend, John, who once demonstrated his compassion for a dying doe by finishing the job a car had begun, an act of kindness that he unfortunately wasn’t able to extend to himself.

Losing someone we love and experiencing the void of their absence, especially near the holidays, makes for an emotionally challenging situation. Knowing that we’ll never again hear a loved one’s laughter or feel their embrace, quite plainly sucks. However, if one takes the time to focus instead on what remains – the memories and moments and love shared, it seems to me that they’re never really gone. At least not from our heads and, of course, our hearts.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, cancer, Europe, family, favorites, friends, Germany, Local, love, musings, Normanskill, Observations, relationships, skiing, travel, upstate New York, x-country skiing

Do something that scares you

Yesterday I did something that scared me. And then I did it again. And again and again for a total of four times. The first time I did it, I was slightly less frightened than I had been on the chairlift. I don’t like heights. Actually riding the chairlift made getting on and off the chairlift (2 things that always prompt me to feel anxious) seem pretty mild in terms of fear generated. I was so afraid, as I rode the chairlift up to the top of the mountain, that I couldn’t even look behind myself to see the view. I tried to snap a photo without turning my head on my way up the mountain, but it really didn’t work out too well.

I went skiing by myself. In Vermont.

Why would I do something that makes me feel so fearful? What’s the point of pushing so far outside of my comfort zone?

Because the sun was shining and the air was fresh and I had a voucher that made my couple of hours cost practically nothing. Because none of the friends I was “weekending” with wanted to come. Because the mountain was 15 minutes from the hotel and hardly anyone else was there so late in the season. Because I wanted the experience. Because I couldn’t see the view until I reached the top of the mountain.

I took the green one on the left.

During my four runs down the mountain, I saw the weather change three times. I  navigated around the icy spots and basically remained in control of my skis most of the time. When I fell, after sliding a fair bit on the slick snow completely out of control, I figured out how to pick myself up. It was a challenge and I did it.

I went skiing by myself. In Vermont.

 

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, Random, road trips, skiing, Spring, Vermont

6 days of skiing

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Sleeping like a baby, post-ski.

After a couple of lackluster seasons of cross country skiing, March has been redemptive and the timing couldn’t have been better. For me, that is. On Sunday, March 10, I ran a half marathon under challenging conditions.  The next day I recovered with a 90 minute massage and the day after that we received 20″ of snow. I haven’t run since, choosing instead to step into my skis and explore Capital Hills with Jeter. It’s been phenomenal.

Skiing the golf course is one of my favorite ways to spend a couple of hours and I’m pretty confident that I know that land better than a lot of people. Over the years I’ve explored much of the course and have some favorite trails. I’ve also learned which parts of the course get the most sun at different times of the day and know to expect icy conditions under the evergreens. I think of Capital Hills as my winter backyard and I just love it.

The skiing last week was epic. While the depth of the snow immediately following the storm prevented Jeter and I from going too far, as the week went on, we began to extend our treks. Thanks to the clock change, daylight extended into the evening and Jeter and I enjoyed the outdoors until nearly 7 p.m. The wooded trails have been particularly scenic and I found it completely possible to forget that I was in a city as I glided through the untouched forest solo. Magical.

Jeter loves the snow, but it was so very deep that I was concerned about him overexerting himself on our first couple of outings. As the snow became more packed over the week, we began stretching our loops out covering more ground. There was a new trail that beckoned, a number of comical falls and more than a few moments of absolute exhilaration. The almost spring sun made the snow sparkle and glitter, dazzling me into near blindness.

There wasn’t a single second that I wished I was anywhere else. While I welcome spring, I’m going to miss winter.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Snowverwhelmed!

We got a lot of snow last week, more snow than I’ve seen in a few years. As I got ready for bed more than 48 hours after the snow first began, I could still hear snow removal happening – blowers and plows and trucks battling the nearly two feet of powdery whiteness. It was truly awesome.

On Tuesday evening, the first night of the storm, when I cross-country skied from the DelSo to Center Square, it was much more quiet. There were few cars on the road and I was able to ski right down Delaware Avenue, switching from side to side as the occasional vehicle approached. The skiing was great. The powdery snow offered no resistance and the wind failed to live up to its reputation. I was smiling at least as much as the people I encountered along my way. For some reason folks always seem amused by the sight of a person cross-country skiing on city streets.

Less amused were the drivers of the cars (and buses) that were stuck along my way.  I’ve never seen so many vehicles stuck – it was unbelievable.  Without exaggeration, there more than a half dozen cars being pushed on Lark Street alone.  It was a mess.

There have been a lot of complaints about the snow removal, or lack thereof. As a city resident who lives on a street that seems to fall pretty low on list of priorities, I understand the frustration. Arcadia Avenue was barely plowed and even now, nearly a week later, parking is compromised and we’re voluntarily still leaving our cars on a single side of the street.

There are claims that some streets were given preferential treatment, I understand there’s even a video supporting that claim. I don’t know.  There was a lot of snow. No matter how many plows there were, there weren’t enough. People worked really hard. The snow was relentless. It was definitely snowverwhelming.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing

Weather or not

imageIt’s hard to deny that spring has sprung now that I’ve got two colors of crocus creating a riot of color in my front garden.  I can’t say I’m unhappy about the premature arrival of what is typically the most fickle of seasons, but I can admit that I am more than a little uncomfortable with how quickly windows have been thrown open and bare legs have been exposed.  I’m still waiting for winter.

For the first time in my 20 years of teaching, I didn’t have a single delayed start or cancelation to school this winter.  Yes, I said 20 years.  That is remarkable.  Also absent from this year’s “winter” was any opportunity to cross-country ski locally, sleigh ride or build a snowman.  I can count on one ungloved hand the number of days which were bitter cold and I’m glad that I didn’t invest in new winter gear for any of my children.

I miss the sound of cottony silence that comes from a good snowstorm and the camaraderie of neighbors coming together to dig cars out of mounds of snow and shovel sidewalks. There’s something magical about waking up in the morning to find one’s front steps buried in white, fluffy powder.  It adds a sense of adventure to an otherwise typical day.

All that being said, I didn’t miss white knuckled driving or needing to repeatedly fill my wiper fluid reservoir.  My skis may not have come out of their off season home in the basement, but I was able to explore areas of the golf course on foot that I’d only ever experienced before on skis.  Running the golf course for 4 or 5 months has been both a real treat and a workout and Jeter and I are both going to miss it.

This premature El Niño spring feels a bit like a reward not earned, but let’s enjoy it, along with e.e. cummings’ words, anyway.

“sweet spring is your
time is my time is our
time for springtime is lovetime
and viva sweet love”

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Filed under beauty, favorites, Flowers, Local, Normanskill, Observations, running, skiing, Spring, upstate New York, x-country skiing

Shoulder season

imageIf you’re an outdoors exerciser, you’ll probably agree that we’ve arrived at shoulder season – or, as I like to call it, ass season. As in, falling on your ass if you’re not cautious because it’s so damn icy. We’re somewhere between skiing and running/cycling season and each day brings the question of which activity will be best attempted in conditions that seem to vary daily.

The golf course has deteriorated into an icy landscape, complete with bare spots and piles of dog poop. I skied it Friday and it was treacherous. After walking it on Saturday, I reluctantly concluded that ski season was over. I consoled myself with my first run in weeks – 5 slow, wet and slick miles. My quads are screaming today, so I guess I guess we can call this shoulder, ass and quads season to be accurate.

This morning, there was an unexpected (to me) period of snow. Fluffy flakes quickly accumulated and frosted the icy snow changing my prospects for the day. A ski it would be.

Work last night, an obscenely early soccer game (7:30), and the time change had combined to kick my ass, confirming the appropriateness of my naming the season after the gluteal region. After a nap between fresh flannel sheets, I felt prepared to attempt the golf course, hoping that the trails would be improved. It proved to be beyond my expectations.

The sun had softened the snow’s crust and the newly fallen flakes had filled in the worst of the divots. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the ski was sublime. Although I am generally conscious of being present in the moment, I focused even harder on experiencing this ski, imagining it as being my last of the winter.

The interior trails, particularly the Coca-Cola, were beautiful and easily negotiated. Jeter and I explored a new path or two and when we completed our long loop it seemed we both felt pleasantly fatigued.  Regardless of which part of my body feels sore, that soulful place inside me feels satisfied.  Time for a glass of wine.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, running, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

18 thoughts from the weekend my son turned 18

  • When he was born, my oldest son scared me. That changed.
  • Now, I’m in awe of him.
  • According to my sons, the plural of penis is penis. (The “s” is silent when it’s plural)
  • Crazy > Creepy
  • The Olde English was the perfect place to celebrate my Anglophile son’s birthday.
  • Molly, our server, deserves a raise. She was terrific, as was my fish and chips.
  • The skiing this weekend was wonderfully challenging.
  • Ryan, the guy at Best Buy who set me up with my new phone, was a super representative.
  • The woman who violently slammed my car with her hand in the parking lot at Crossgates Mall represented “ugly with anger” beautifully.
  • It feels good when someone you’ve known for 20+ years tells you that you look happy.
  • Troy really isn’t that far from Albany.
  • The old fashioned at The Wine Bar and Bistro and the new fashioned at New World Bistro Bar are equally perfect.
  • Applying for my son’s third passport in 18 years fills me with pride.
  • 8 countries in 18 years is pretty damn impressive.  I can’t wait to see where else my children venture.
  • McGeary’s on a Saturday night was wonderfully diverse, a testament to Tess’ ability to create an atmosphere that is welcoming.
  • Putting on a pretty dress and lipstick for an evening out doesn’t ever get tired.
  • It has been a remarkable season for x-country skiing.  That being said, I’m excited to hit the pavement in my sneakers soon.
  • The seasons, the years, life go(es) by so very quickly.  Get it while you can.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, family, Food, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants, skiing, Troy, Uncategorized, x-country skiing