It has been a weekend of winter activities, in many of which I engaged for the first time, in, ironically, the first days of this winter’s coldest spell. So far this winter, we had had unseasonably warm weather, often hovering around freezing, but this weekend the mercury started to dip and we hit -15C or so yesterday, with a nasty wind. This is more the norm for this time of year. Thank goodness for global warming.
Saturday was hockey for Jack, and to pass the time, Aimee and I skated. This is significant because my skates are brand new and the first I’ve had on in at least 15 years. She, literally, skated circles around me. I was fully prepared to spend the evening in Emergency with my subdural hematoma, but I managed to keep my feet and even got going a fast enough to overcome the -25C wind chill on the northward part of the track. Then, when our feet were sore and tingly with cold, we put our boots back on and hit the toboggan run. This community centre has a fabulous run, formed by a wooden structure down which the rider is launched, followed by a curve and a second hill, all iced and enclosed in a tunnel of black plastic, with a well-placed landing pad at the end to keep you from going miles and miles. The trouble is waiting in line at the top of the structure, in the wind, for your turn.
After hockey and a bowl of steaming hot homemade soup (thank you Trevor), a whole bunch of the family went to a pro hockey game at the big arena. Not NHL, but our consolation. It was fun. I did more people watching than hockey watching, but it meant I was able to answer Jack’s incessant questions (“Mommy, what if every single number had ‘7’ in it?”) without begrudging him his curiosity. The home team won, so we got to do lots of cheering, and the kids behaved impeccably, especially considering we didn’t get home until 10:30.
Today, we all slept in, on orders from the parents, until at least 8:00, in preparation for a new activity, downhill skiing. Neither Trevor nor I had been on skis in many years, and the kids never had. We had booked a Family Fun Day, with a group lesson and equipment rentals, but when we woke up, the temperature was -31C with a wind chill of -41C. I convinced Trevor to go anyway, and we bundled up and headed out. Downhill skiing is not much to speak of when you live on the prairies, but we found the bump and got our equipment. An instructor took us out and we started at the bottom of the bunny hill. Aimee did not enjoy herself much during the lesson, when the instructor kept telling her to snowplough. Her skis kept crossing and she kept falling. As soon as he left, she asked, “Can I just go fast now?” and started zipping down the hill like a tiny pink blur. Once she mastered the tow rope (long before I did), she was off and running. On one run down the steeper part of the bunny hill, I was going along nice and slow, all cautious and terrified, and she whizzed past me at full tilt. Hmmm… I thought, guess I could go faster.
Jack loved it too. He learned very quickly to curve and stop right at the back of the line for the tow rope. No fuss, no muss, no struggling along to the line-up. The goal is to get him going up the tow rope on his own next time; Trevor had to haul him along every time, because I was as likely to fall as to make it to the top (unlike Aimee).
So despite -17C with a horrid windchill, we stayed 3+ hours and are planning a return trip next week. The hill is small, and the runs short (like a few seconds long, less for Aimee-Kneivel), so Trevor started looking on the internet for family ski vacations close-ish to home at hills with minutes-long runs, that we could do on a vacation. The kids are up for it, for sure. I’m topping up my disability insurance.
I must say it’s a little humbling to watch my children pick up a skill far faster than I can. I would say we started the day with the same skill level, and ended it with them, quite frankly, measurably ahead of me. I wonder if it is their fearlessness, borne of lack of experience, or my cautiousness, borne of too much experience. It may be too late for me to become an alpine master. I wonder about all the things that it’s too late for me to do. I wonder how many things I will never experience because I closed doors with the choices I made. I hope I am giving my kids the opportunities that will allow them to have experiences that I never did or will. How else would they discover natural talent or aptitude? Hey, I could have been a world class ski jumper, but I never bothered to try it out. I want them to try everything so they know what they like. I will work pretty hard to provide that kind of environment for them to grow up in.
Overall, this was a great winter weekend. We had a lot of outdoor fun, some new experiences, and made some plans as a result. Winter is very, very long around here, so if you can’t beat it, you’ve just got to join it. Of course for the cost of a very few lift tickets, at least one of us could spend a week at a resort in Mexico, but that would mean a high-stakes game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to choose who gets to go, and a whole lot of cabin fever saving up for it. I think I might just pick these home=grown pastimes, even though I am the world’s only living icicle (just ask Trevor).
And now, I am vaccilating between another glass of wine, and a couple of pre-emptive Advils to ward off the ramifications of my weekend of new activities. Maybe I’d better have both.