In Our Own Backyard….Follow the lightOn the first few ski outings of the season, I always experience a little shakiness until I get my “ski legs” back under me. That’s what I was feeling that day as I plummeted down the first steep hill and hit a small branch lying just under the snow.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It was the first real snowfall of the season, and my husband and I could hardly wait to get out on our favorite cross country ski trail, strap on the “skinny skis” and get some much-needed fresh air and exercise. As it turned out, the trail had not yet been groomed, and the snow didn’t quite cover all of the grasses, leaves and sticks along the way, so our passage was somewhat challenging.
On the first few ski outings of the season, I always experience a little shakiness until I get my “ski legs” back under me. That’s what I was feeling that day as I plummeted down the first steep hill and hit a small branch lying just under the snow. The split-second hitch in my forward progress sent me flailing to regain my balance. For what seemed like several nerve-wracking seconds, I hung suspended between a miraculous recovery and certain disaster. I don’t know how I managed to stay upright on my skis that day, but somehow I did, and for the rest of the circuit I remained tentative and shaky.
We went out on the trail again later in the week, and I felt a bit more confident. But when I agreed to try our hand at it after dark one night wearing head lamps, I wondered if I had surely lost my mind – and all the rest of my faculties to boot!
It seemed like kind of an exciting adventure when we left the house, all bundled up in warm clothing, with fresh batteries in our head lamps and a new coat of wax on the bottoms of our skis. But when we got to the trailhead and climbed onto our skis, I began to have misgivings, recalling the patchiness along the trail, the branch half-buried in the snow of the steep hill that had nearly thrown me for a loop, and the fact that we couldn’t see more than 10 or 15 feet into the darkness ahead of us….
At first, all went well. In fact, it was kind of invigorating as we poled swiftly along the trail through the evergreens. The snow seemed to be smoother and faster than during the daytime, and the skiing felt effortless. That was when we were on flat land.
But when we came to the hills, it was quite a different story. You see, after dark, you tend to lose the orientation you usually depend upon to make your way – the familiar landmarks that tell you just where you are along the trail, which hill has a sharp right turn at the bottom, and which one has that tricky little whoop-de-doo in the middle of it.
At night, all we could make out was the trail descending downward into the darkness, and our recall of just where it led and how steep it was seemed to be erased from memory.
My heart pounded as I shoved off at the top of the first hill. My headlight directed a small pool of light on the trail about 10 feet ahead of me, but I discovered I was completely unable to see my skis and whether they were staying in the track ahead of me or straying outside of it, or if that buried branch that had been my nemesis earlier in the week was about to lay me flat on my posterior.
But as I soared into the darkness, an amazing thing happened to me. I realized that I actually felt steadier and more confident when I kept my eyes on that slender beam of light on the trail ahead of me – and stopped worrying about what my skis were doing!
And now, as the Christmas season draws near, I can’t help but wonder if that’s exactly how the Wise Men must have felt as they wended their way to the mysterious spectacle in that manger in Bethlehem all those long years ago. They knew not just what awaited them that dark night, but they found the faith they needed to go on by keeping their eye on the star.
May you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and may the light of the season continue to guide you wherever you go.