Thursday, January 31, 2013

stick with your strengths

Tuesday I went cross-country (XC) skiing.  I usually go 2-3 times per year, and I have for the past 20 years.  So I'm not a neophyte.  But on the other hand, 2-3 times a year is not enough to result in proficiency-- at least not in someone like me, who is not a natural athlete.  I do just fine as long as we're striding along on level ground or going up hill.  But downhill makes me kind of nervous.  The skis are considerably longer and thinner than downhill skis, so they're less stable and harder to maneuver. 

So on Tuesday my friend Joan and I went out to the Pig Farm to XC ski. I have no idea why it's called the Pig Farm because there are no pigs, and it seems to be several hundred acres of forest without a farm in sight.  But since they didn't check with me before naming it, it's not my fault.  I've been there once before for mountain biking in the summer, but I'd never skiied.  I did just fine for the first 45 minutes on the level bit at the beginning, and then the gradual uphill.

But you know.... the inevitable result of uphill.  We kept going uphill and uphill and I was getting more and more nervous because I don't like downhill.  And sure enough, a little more than halfway, the trail started to go downhill.  The good news is that there was considerably less downhill than there had been uphill.  Probably because (the bad news) the first part of the downhill bit was sort of steeply downhill.  And it involved turns.  And the snow was far from ideal-- crunchy and old over ice.  And there were ruts.

So I'm standing at the top of this one particular section and thinking, "I don't have the skills for this.  I should just take my skis off and walk down."  Then--counterpoint-- the thought popped into my head:  "I never take risks.  I never push myself to see what I can do.  I should just DO this.  I can do this!  I can do this!"

The short version of what followed is:  I took a deep breath, thought I can do this!, and down I went.  LITERALLY.  On my ass.  On my knee.  On my right thigh.  And one particularly lovely time, on my face.  I can't believe I don't have a black eye--probably only because I was going so slowly.  Joan told me later she was afraid I'd broken my neck.

If you've never XC skiied before, falling isn't pretty.  Not only because (duh) you're falling, but because it's just about impossible to get up.  You've got those long skinny skis strapped to your feet, and they get all turned around, so you have to get them lined up before you can do anything.  And then you have to make sure they're not pointed downhill when you heave yourself up off the ground, because if they are, you're going right back down.  (trust me.)  It's like that scene on the ice with Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman in While You Were Sleeping, except no makeup artist, no hair stylist, and no Bill Pullman.  Dang it.

So, Moral Of The Story:  Stick with your strengths.  When that little voice in your head says, "I should take my skis off and walk down,"  DO IT.

And believe it or not, that experience helped me figure out how to write the next couple of posts.  Stay tuned.

IN OTHER NEWS....  The proto-yogurt did indeed turn into actual yogurt.  It needs work, but definitely a win for the first time out.  More on that another time. 

And also:  I think I have been falsely maligning our library for years.  I often check their online catalog before I buy a book, but they never have the ones I want.  Today I actually went to the physical building (which is not easy to get to from our house so I haven't been there in a couple of years), and walked back out with five books, all of which I wanted, and at least two of which I'm pretty sure I've searched for online.  Weird, yes?  Maybe not everything is in the online database.  It made me so happy, and brought back many memories of going to the library when I was a kid, when it was like a magic house filled with doors to other worlds.  I am much more optimistic about getting through this year without buying a book.  It might actually happen.  Maybe.


  1. Hot bath and ibuprofen may be needed! I've only ever gone XC skiing once and liked it. Downhill just scares me.

    See if your library has ebooks to borrow. Our library is part of a consortium (because, I gather, ebooks are extremely expensive for libraries) and I can get books on my kindle or iphone from them. The selection is not great and the search is a pain in the butt, but, y'know, books!

    1. Unfortunately we don't have a bathtub in our new house, dangit. This is the first time I've missed one, because it would definitely have been nice to soak the aches away. I do know that our library has ebooks, but I haven't tried to figure out how to do it yet. I'm sure I will get around to that eventually. Because, y'know, books!

  2. Have to say I howled at this post because it sounds so much like something I would do. "going to give it the college try . . . " We must accept our limitations. Glad you survived to tell the tale.

    1. me, too! Hi, MMM-- we watched for Jo tonight but didn't see her. Made muffalettas for the crowd, too, I almost called you for advice, but I used Gwen's book instead.

  3. Stick with your strengths. When that little voice in your head says, "I should take my skis off and walk down," DO IT.

    -- lol thanks. Glad to have that little voice affirmed.