In high school, I did a lot of Nordic skiing, especially with my dad. He had never really been one to love alpine skiing, and I had moved away from it as my friends were involved in nordic. It was a typical winter evening (read: it was 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun was setting because winter in New Hampshire) and the snow was taking on the eerie blue/pink that is unique to wintertime. We were in the woods, and the tree’s thin, black trunks stood out against the snow that was still bright in the dusk light.
We had been skiing for about and hour, and my sweat was beginning to cool on my body. The evening’s sub-zero temperatures were beginning to seep into my core. My desire to be done with the ski was building as my temperature dropped, and so I turned to my dad to say, “I want to be done with this.”
“Oh, let’s just do a couple of cool down laps around the field,” he responded.
“Ugh! Dad! I’m cold and tired and hungry and I can’t stand winter!” I said in a pretty typical angsty teenager tone.
“What’s wrong with winter?” he asked mildly, blithely continuing to ski along so as to forcing me to continue skiing with him in the most nonchalant way…(Just so you know, Dad, I knew what you were doing…) pulling me into conversation to try and distract me just enough to get me to take those last two bleeding laps.
“What’s wrong with winter???” I repeated, flabbergasted. “How can anyone like winter? It’s cold and dark ALL THE TIME, everyone gets depressed, I can never, never get warm, and it’s last for half to goddamned year! Sometimes I think that New Hampshire is just 10 months of winter with July and August thrown in.”
“Oh, now,” Dad replied, maintaining his mild tone, “Winter’s not that bad. I mean, look, we’re out here skiing, there’s beautiful sunset, the air is cold and fresh, it’s great!”
“I guess I’m just more of a summer person,” was my surly response.
“You know,” he said, “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really learned how to appreciate all of the seasons. Each one has its own gifts, and learning how to move through them and appreciate each of them for their differences really adds to your happiness. You know when it’s 90 degrees and super humid in the summer? Don’t you just appreciate the cold of the winter when you remember that? At the same time, in the heat of the summer, don’t you remember the snow and sleet storms and just appreciate the moment by the lake? Each season has something to give.”
This was several years ago now, so I must say that I’ve given my father’s dialogue a certain level of artistic license, however, the message remains the same.
It snowed this week in Boulder, on October 9th, which I can easily say is the earliest snow I’ve experienced. Just a day before it had been 70 degrees and sunny, cool in the shade, warm in the crisp autumn sun. Perfect warm not hot; cool not cold days. I could make several statements about the superiority of autumn over all seasons, but the point of this post is to talk about how right my dad has proved to be (of course).
The more I learn to live in each moment, the more I am able to appreciate the ebbing the flowing of the seasons and the gifts they each bring. The nights have turned wintery here, and I now have to wear gloves and a hat while I ride my bike. The snow on Monday had me despairing a bit at the loss of summer and the beautiful autumn, but then I remembered a few things. Winter means skiing. Winter means rest. Winter means cold, clean, and clear. Winter offers more moments to stop, reset, reflect, and reevaluate.
In light of the wildness that life seems to be handing out right now, it seems a little wintertime is something which to look forward.
…but I’m still loving these 70 degrees days for now.