Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cruising With Khione

I don't know why, but I have a distinct feeling something is coded in the snow's weekly plummet to earth. It may be global warming, the shift in climate, or just my wild imagination, but the downfall occurs with such regularity of late that I sense there's more to it. So I got out in it, in search of it's meaning.

The heavy fall began near rush hour this morning, but no school delay was called. Rather than have to make up yet another day lost to snow, school officials opted for an early dismissal. Thus, I had a porthole in which to voyage solo aloft the glistening, fleecy ground cover.

There is something about getting out on my cross country skis, alone, scraping through fresh snow, cutting a trail, that awakens me. There is an immediate peace, an instant sense of becoming one with nature. And even though my trek was along suburban streets, it was still for some time quiet but for the Song Sparrows' trills from across the partly iced-over brook. I wondered if this were not the message—the snow, and the birds, warbling in harmony just for me (skiing the flats has this effect, delusions surface, and I can see crystal clear beyond the horizon)—a dawning of a virginal earth, unstained by human nature.

Until the snow plow hammered past, leaving noxious fume in its path, returning me to Earth present.

(When I return home nearly two hours later, I am to find via research that people have been cross country skiing since prehistoric times—meaning since human beings first appeared on Earth—along the Baltic Shield. That's right, snow has never immobilized Scandinavians. And the repetitive motion of my skis are the same as earliest man's. This makes me feel even more like a snow goddess. Khione. I am she.)

* * *

Presently, I make my way along Rawson, down a small decline, and onto a flat with a certain cadence: a slightly bent leg out front,  the back one in a deeper bend at the knee, dragging behind. I let it linger there until I can glide no more, and then thrust the back leg forward, and the other falls behind. The arms—poles in hand—do what the leg does opposite, and the method is repeated until I reach a soft coast.

I glide past homes where large icicles cling precariously to rooflines, azalia bushes are buried in white fluff, the rims of basketball hoops are salted like margaritas, and a small trampoline looks like a snow cone. I see a "land clearing" sign, and I feel a wisp of sadness.

No one, except for a few cars passing slowly, is on the road but me. I am alone, keeping my own pace, no one to catch up to, no one to wait for. I've got a rhythm going, and it feels good. I feel it's all I really need. But then I see the hill ahead, and my heart rushes. I hurry up the incline, suddenly aware that I want to get to the top. I am in full stretch because I need to get to the top.

Because I need to go down.

And so I reach the crest and circle round, adjusting myself at the top, peering down to the bridge, where I know my downhill coast will come to a halt. I dig my poles into the snow under me, and push off. A joyful scream erupts (I am not even conscious of this) as I careen down the small slope, pass over a stream and arrive atop the bridge, where my stride is broken.

I do this three more times. It is like a drug. A selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor. 

On my final descent, a car passes and I notice it's a neighbor bringing her daughter home from school. They smile and wave. Another car passes, and it's also a mother and child. I begin to feel guilty for not picking my kids up at school. I begin to wonder if I don't live for my kids. But I don't live for my kids, I realize. Is this a horrible thing to discover? Is this the message? Wait, maybe I'm not thinking straight. I live with my kids. I feed them and clothe them, and give them everything they need. Is this not enough?! Why, I do live for my kids, don't I? I am confused. I begin to think that I mustn't love my kids amply, for if I did, I'd be fetching them at school. I begin to feel less like a goddess, and—gripping my poles—more like something that is horned, tailed, and wields a pitchfork. This is the message, I decide. I need to get off my drugs and return to the real earth. Or perhaps I need a different drug. Something more like Xanax.

I leave the mountain and head toward the flats again. I turn down a side street in Arnold Mills and ski past the pond. More cars drive by. It's odd, but I think that one can tell a lot about a person simply by observing his or her reaction—especially to that of witnessing one skiing on a snow covered street. There is snow. Lots of it. I’m not on blacktop for Heaven's sake. So I can’t help but wonder why some people seem so puzzled. Or annoyed. Or doubtful. While others grin gaily.

And then there is the snow plow and its driver, whom doesn't care much for me. Not at all. Nor I for him. Not at all.

Alas, my son is soon to be jettisoned from a big yellow clunker, so I slide back toward home and wait by the the street corner's snowbank—my journey complete, though no portent had been decoded. Or had it?

At the corner, I greet the little man, who seems no worse for the wear. He doesn't mention the extended ride, or the fact that other children were picked up at school. I wonder if my daughter will feel the same way.

I wonder if I'll be going out for another winter hike when she returns home. I wonder when we shall see the next snowfall.


  1. Oh, Jayne. Thanks for this. I could almost feel the snow on my face and that sense of exhilaration heading down the hill. And the picture of your son? Rest assured. He looks perfectly happy, like he's even thinking that his mom is pretty cool, out there on her skis, living life.

  2. Well, I went to pick up MY kids like a good mommy. Just kidding! Wish I could have been out there with you - sounded wonderful! Plus, it's time like that that make moms better moms (we need our time). Oh, and if that was my basketball hoop you were talking about, it IS margarita salt, hahaha

  3. You are the snow goddess. Your kids will be fine. They are probably happy that you do not smother them.

  4. I almost felt as if I was there, I could almost smell the snow and fresh air. Great story, I want more.

  5. Nice post - it makes me realize how much i miss skiing through freshly fallen snow

  6. Simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the beauty of a joy ride in the snow. I won't even hold it against you for skiing, or picking up your kids... where is it exactly?

    Can't wait for my trip back to the mountains, though I can't seem to be write when I am there. Too much happiness blocks my creative pores.

  7. Sere- I think he thinks mom is just plain weird. At least that's how my kids look at me. What the wa, Mom?!
    It's OK. They are just as weird, but most assuredly much cooler. ;)

    LinAnn- LMAO. I am going to your house for drinks.

    Michelle- Smother, no, no. I'll never be accused of that. (Gosh, I'm really making myself sound bad, eh?)

    Melissa- Snow or story?! I can grant you only one. The other's completely out of my control. I think? ;)

    David- Thanks for stopping by. That kind of skiing a great workout! Better than going to the gym.

    Shopgirl- Funny thing about happiness, huh? A little drama never hurts.

  8. This almost made me want to try skiing again...alack, I have a partially paralyzed leg, and that means I regularly take out trees and small children. I settle for drinking hot chocolate, occasionally laced with Bailey's.
    Don't sweat the kids, they're probably just thrilled they get out early. I know I was at that age.

  9. I was riveted. What a superb blog post! I feel honored just o have read it.

  10. I really want some skis now, that would have been fun today. I wouldn't worry too much about it, kids need a little adventure and independence sometimes.

  11. My guess is that some of the other moms wish they were skiing right beside you. I walk a lot, and my daughters and I noticed the quiet this winter. Some days, there's not even one sound of nature. Winter has its own beauty, doesn't it?

  12. Your weather was the lead story on the national news tonight, but here in western Oregon, the grass is growing. Of course, yours could be too--it's just too far down there for anyone to know; ha.

    "I blog because I write, and I don't have to submit to get it published!"

    This is so true. Writing is a very different enterprise than publishing, and talent at the first doesn't imply a willingness to subject oneself to the utter pain in the butt of the latter.

  13. Jayne!Good morning, how are you? I wish you all the best.
    Thanks for this post.

  14. i also dream of skiing but i live in a tropical country so i can't just yet. even if i haven't seen, touched and felt the coldness of snow in real life, i could feel the coldness of winter enveloping me as i read this post. ironically, it warms my heart.

  15. DBoy- I've been known to settle for Bailey's with anything (now and then). And you're right, the kids do have their day, too.

    T. Anne - Thank you! :)

    Christopher- It's not too late. ;)

    Joanne- I think winter has been just gorgeous this year. At least to look at (and play in). Heavy snow is getting scary, though...

    Snowbrush- Yes, it's true, but you know I'm going to have to give it a whirl sooner or later...

    Gran's Scrapbook- Thank you, and same to you!

    Maria- A lot of people around the country would be very happy to be where you are now. Maybe you could work out a trade? ;) Glad it warmed you heart.

  16. I love this, Jayne. Wonderfully done. (And I relate--while you were skiing, I was running... and collecting ice crystals all over my lashes.) You're a cool mama, my friend.