Sunday, January 18, 2009

Make Your Own Happiness

Living in Central NY in the winter can be absolutely depressing. It is beautiful but cold. The Lake Effect Snow Machine from Ontario never, ever stops. Spring doesn't come until April... at least. Driving to-and-from work every day can be hair-raising, especially when your car doesn't have 4-wheel drive. Your house is never, ever warm enough. Etc., etc. ...etc.

I am sick of kvetching about winter. I am sick of dreading winter. Unless I pick up and move, I need to learn to embrace November-March, the most severe months of the year. What better way to enjoy the winter than by embracing a winter sport? Ah, Cross Country Skiing with Dogs! :o)

On Saturday, I went to The Ski Company in Syracuse and was fashioned with a cross-country ski package. The folks there were excellent and I am SO glad I went there instead of some generic sporting goods store like Dicks or Sport Authority. They REALLY know skiing and an experienced x-country skiier sales guy helped me pick out the best equipment: boots, poles, skiis, and bindings. It made me feel confident and I got a great deal- everything cost under $260.

Today, temps soared (!!) into the mid-20's, so Clifford and I drove to Bear Swamp State Forest down on the south end of Skaneateles Lake for our first outing.

It was so, so, so much fun. There were quite a few people skiing, a few snowshoeing and lots of snowmobiles (I am NOT a fan of these noise-makers but the drivers were very considerate and polite when passing us on the multi-access roads).

Bear Swamp was like a Christmas Card. I was worried that it would be desolate and inaccessible since the past few weeks have been frigid... but the ski trails were groomed and easy for me to follow. The forest was breathtaking.

Clifford was fantastic. He stayed out front on his retractable leash which I had belted around my waist. He was definitely stubborn when we had to get off the trail to let faster people pass us (he didn't get why we had to move) but otherwise... he just loved it. I quickly picked up the gliding rhythm and was able to ski (most of the time) almost as fast as I jog, so Cliff was in heaven getting to go-go-go. He does NOT like to go slow or mosey along, so enjoyed the pace. He was even a trooper when I lost control going down some gentle hills and fell on my dupa. He would impatiently stop, wait for me to haul myself up, and then tug to go on.
Once, in some fit of dillusional-self confidence, we started down a pretty steep downhill multi-access road. As I picked up speed with Cliff trotting beside me, I bent my knees and put my ski poles under my arms, pretending I was a downhill skiier in the Winter Olympics. I could almost hear the crowds cheering as I picked up speed-! Ah, the taste of victory in my first Olympic competition-! All of a sudden, the road made a blind turn (which, being my first time on skiis in ages, I couldn't navigate) and --as the road, and Cliff, veered left--I (mouth open in horror) kept going straight- and went ass over kettle into the deep snowbank. I lay there on my face and couldn't stop laughing. Cliff, who sensed I wasn't with him, had stopped about 20 feet away towards the end of the leash and refused to even come over to see if I was okay. That was the biggest crash of the day. Otherwise, I think we did pretty good.

What a beautiful day to go out. It was like gliding through a Currier and Ives painting. I think I am in love with Cross country skiing and Cliff too! This will totally open up a new season to us. I can't wait to go out again.
Once home, I took Lucy for an easygoing walk (she would never have been able to do Bear Swamp in that kind of snow) and we settled down for the evening. Where will we ski next? I sooo can't wait!!!



Iowa Greyhound said...

Now that looks like fun! It's been years since I've done gone cc skiing, but it's so much fun. It's pretty cool that your greyhound to go along too.

Sarah said...

my gosh, that sounds awesome. One of our goals this year is to snowshoe and xc ski more in this area. Lake Tahoe is so close and there are so many places to go, so we really have no excuse. (except the whole gear issue!) I have to say I laughed out loud at the thought of your fall. It reminded me of the one my sister took at Yosemite last funny! She did the same thing we thought we were so good and loved bending our knees and putting the poles up like we were pros, unfortunately the track ended in ice and she went face first into a bank...I still laugh just thinking about it.

Kelly said...

That was a beautiful post. So true. We must embrace winter if we stay in the NE. It is slightly milder here in the Pioneer valley but winter is just as long. Good for you!

And good for you to pick up the skis again, even if you end up "ass over kettle" a few times, love that phrase.

I trudge through the snow twice a week for a long walk, unless there are negative temps. It is always a little surprising to me that I still have a keen sense of wonderment at the gorgeous drifts of snow. Winter is beautiful.

bre said...

Hello- I found your blog when I googled "ski with my greyhound" to see if anyone else skis with their hound! I grew up in Alaska and am an expert nordic skier. I live in Utah now and when I adopted an ex-racer I hoped he would be able to go with me. He loves it! He always has the biggest smile on his face the whole time! I try to keep it to an hour max, because I know he's a sprinter. Anyways, one word of warning, I clipped my greyhound (his name is Scotty) on the back of the leg with my ski that has a metal edge. It cut him pretty bad and he had to get staples. I felt terrible!!! Now I use skis without a metal edge when he comes with me! So if you have metal edges make sure Cliff stays well away from the skis. Best of luck with your cross country adventures! It's great to see greyhounds enyoing the winter. Bre
PS Scotty wears a coat we got him from K-9 apparel when it's chilly. They make coats for greyhounds that work great for him!