Roger Marolt: Skiing is the icing between layers of summer cake
Summer was made for me. Beaches and running under the sun are my arguments. I like short sleeves and abbreviated pant legs. Waves on sand speak for themselves. So, let’s talk about running.
Running is easy, not on the heart and lungs, but certainly logistically. You can run on a dirt road or city streets. You can run in the park or at the track. You can run across fields or mountain trails. You can run in place, in a dream and, when worse comes to worse, you can run on a treadmill. The only equipment necessary is not equipment at all — shorts, shirt, spongy shoes — but even these are not necessary. People run in loafers and pumps after busses and in nothing at all on dares to see what being uninhibited feels like.
They say talk is cheap, but I think running is cheaper. You don’t have to buy a cup of coffee or be clever to run. It also is a good sign that you don’t meet many people who make their livings as running coaches. Its something we are born to do. It comes naturally after we begin to walk, even before we can say a few words.
The only time running doesn’t work well is winter. Treading on ice, thin or otherwise, is dangerous. You have to wear too much clothing. You can’t go full speed. And, this has me missing summer, especially the summer of 2020 when, because of running, I could forget about the pandemic with the tying of two bowknots and putting one foot in front of the other, oftentimes not even knowing exactly where I was going or for how long I’d be out.
There also was mountain biking and hiking, which are almost as effortless and enjoyable. A paddle board is more involved, but you don’t regret that when standing up in the sunshine gliding across cool water. We had some raucous tennis matches this summer. I never made it to the golf course, which left lots of time for the other perks of warm weather. Some of the easiest fun of all was playing catch with a football or baseball down in the park.
Now, Halloween is past, it’s almost my twin brothers’ birthday, and soon I will be searching the bottom of the closet for my gloves, goggles and helmet. I love to ski. For a long stretch, before I grew out of an image and into my own weathered skin, skiing was my identity. I liked it that way, it didn’t require the tiresome work of nurturing true character.
Lately, though, I wonder more and more if I skied so much because there was so little else to do in wintertime. I suppose at some level I have always wondered this without actually addressing it. It is an easy distraction to throw the boards over my shoulder and head for the hill.
When we are young, we know no more about the changing seasons than we do about the good ’ol days. We live in both, not recognizing what they are or how much they will mean one day. Now I realize not all seasons or years are created equal. Marriages, births, graduations, and great adventures mark the years to remember. Similarly, summer, the part, mimics the whole. As with good years, it feels like more memorable things happen during the season when the sun slackens its pace, providing more daylight for them to occur.
Some years take work. Winter is that kind of season for me. Skiing is the effort. It’s wintertime joy, between the shoveling, shivering and windshield scrapping. I love it more for this. How else to explain the continuous draw to make the same turns over the same terrain for more than 50 years? I should be bored. I find no monotony in it. Like telling the same old stories with friends, I don’t learn much new, but feel more and more comfortable celebrating the past, reassured that the joy in it never leaves, confident it is part of my soul as the hand is part of my body.
In the end I won’t mind being remembered for holding a grudge not so much against winter as for the many ways it made me uncomfortable. I skied as hard and as regularly as I did not because I loved winter. Skiing is what got me through it. It’s not in the snow or the adrenaline. It is in the heart. That’s why I love skiing.
Roger Marolt is ready to put his time in on the slopes and counting the days to spring. Email at email@example.com.
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