Roger Marolt: These are a few of my favorite things
I like to shovel snow from my driveway.
It’s probably 50 feet long and an average of 20 feet wide. If it was any larger than that, my mind might be changed; any smaller and I wouldn’t think one way or the other about it.
As it is, it takes about half an hour to clear the bounty an average winter storm drops. I’m satisfied by how it looks after I finish. I enjoy watching the snowbanks on its edges grow through February and then observing the springtime sun push them down into the greening grass beneath.
It’s a terrific workout for the legs, shoulders, heart and core. Strange as it may sound, when I am out there shoveling, I get a similar sensation to skiing powder. I can’t explain that. It is a personal pleasure.
This is something I want to continue as long as I can. People see me doing it and ask why I don’t get a snowblower. I don’t have an answer other than the obvious one, which is because I don’t. There are a hundred nuances contained in that statement that nobody has the time or desire to hear. It’s easier to let them think I’m a cheapskate.
I like to mow my grass, too. Maybe this makes enjoying snow shoveling easier to believe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve manicured the same old yard for the past 26 years, yet still try to figure out the most efficient pattern to accomplish the task. It is a healthy combination of concentration and letting your mind wander. With earplugs, the gray noise is magnificent. When you are too occupied to analyze anything, everything makes sense. It all comes together while sipping a Gatorade in the hammock beneath a tree afterward. I hope to never give this up, either.
There are other things I want to keep doing as my midlife crisis becomes smaller than it appears in the rearview mirror mounted on the door of this organic vehicle out of which I take peripheral glances from the drivers seat at life passing.
I want to keep skiing moguls. Yes, I consider this work. I get the feeling people don’t really like moguls anymore other than for an occasional challenge, but I like them more for their personality. They are the extroverted Thursday night partiers to the corduroy groomers’ accounting professor’s office hours. Once I saw a time-lapsed video of a mogul field showing that moguls actually move up the slope throughout the ski season. Descending skiers’ edges scrape snow off the bottoms of one mogul and pack it onto the top part of the mogul below, so it makes sense, still, once you see the moguls in motion seemingly defying gravity, it gives you a feeling almost like riding a wave. They have disappeared from the list of fun things to do in ski resorts from their peak of popularity in the late 1970s when getting through them with speed and creative style was called “hot-dogging.” It was the high point for youthful vigor in the sport. I like the idea of that.
I want to keep going to the gym, too. I don’t need to put weights on the bar until it starts to bend and then depend on a squat rack to keep me from getting squashed if my legs give out which, if you are really testing yourself, is a definite possibility, but I think in the age of yoga, Pilates and spin classes, a little old fashioned resistance training is still healthy. There’s also a vibe I like at the gym. They play music with a good beat. They have televisions on mute. The best places show only sports, not CNN, Fox News, or The Weather Channel. People take rest breaks between sets, and many like to talk during those short intervals. It doesn’t leave time for anything deep. The focus is on tidbits.
I want to keep making up games, physical and mental. I don’t think adults play enough and, judging by our political climate, we certainly don’t use our imaginations regularly. Combining the two is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Just pick something up and twirl it around in your hands awhile. Sooner or later you will do something with it and, if you are paying attention, you can probably make a game out of it. Throw it, balance it, try to set or toss it close to something else, challenge someone to get it away from you, with your eyes closed. Who really knows how a homemade, organic game begins? What I am sure of is that it will. All you have to do is put down your phone and embrace the boredom. A dull moment is a gift. Our human makeup will not allow them to last very long and becomes incomparably satisfied by snuffing them out.
I want to keep tuning my own skis for no good reason whatsoever.
I want to keep writing this column. It is something I have to get done twice every week. I can’t procrastinate forever with it. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not. The easy ones bring pleasure; the hard ones are a pain in the neck. And still, there is nothing like a pain in the neck to remind you that you are still alive.
Roger Marolt wants to keep doing other things, too. He will remember what they are the next time he is alone in his driveway with a shovel in hand. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aspen Sister Cities members dedicated a plaque in Sister Cities Plaza to Don Sheeley, who served as president of the organization from 1998 until his death in 2017.