“The great white rain”

20121110-100042.jpgSnowing in the ‘banks today. In my opinion that is always a good day. I love to ski and the more snow the better. I do not really even mind shoveling snow, as I have discussed before. However, it has not always been thus. Just ask my dad.

Growing up in Chicago I was familiar with snow, but that was mid latitude city snow; dirty, slushy, nasty stuff. It was mostly inconvenient. Shoveling it sucked…and I could not ride my bike in it…not safely anyway, and back then that is about all I really wanted to do. Then I moved to Maine. Snow is a bit different there, although that year there were some similarities. We got a lot of rain in the autumn and it just seemed to turn white at some point and keep coming…the great white rain. Nasty, wet, heavy stuff that I had to shovel. Well my step-brother had to help too. We had two driveways –they call them dooryards up there- and they both had to be kept clean. Not that I had a car. I was the walrus that still had to bum rides off of people. And shovel the snow out of the way for the people that did have a car. They tried to get me interested in skiing. I hated it. I hated the winter and the snow…and I couldn’t ride my bike. I was known amongst my Chicago friends for being an ardent despiser of winter. Understandably they were baffled when I moved to Maine. California they understood. When I moved to Alaska I think they likely decided that I had cracked completely. I might not disagree with them.

Somewhere along the line I picked up skiing again; on my own terms. Taught myself how to do it and learned to really enjoy it. Then got a sled dog and took up Skijoring which can be more fun than I can describe. She will not pull me around anymore, but I do not begrudge her for that being almost 15 and all. So now I have four sets of skis –for different conditions and pursuits. Also one set of snowshoes and studded tires for my bike. I do not do much winter riding anymore but I used to bike commute all winter. Each year I would acquire a new piece of gear to allow me to push the limit just a bit further. -40 F was my cut off in the end. I would probably ride more but my route to work involves crossing a traffic flow that I do not trust. Safety first and all. I also now have a snow machine…sort of a surrogate for the motorcycle riding I once loved so much…although I originally got it for pulling trees around the yard.

Anyways, the point here is that I love winter now –not a big fan of -40, biking or otherwise- but that never lasts too long. It always seems to last longer than it does when one is in the throes of dealing with it though. It is my new ardent opinion that winter can be a great time and that one is best served to find ways to appreciate it if one is going to persist in Alaska. That does not have to mean being an avid outdoors person though. A friend of mine is a quite accomplished banjo player now…she taught herself to play last winter. Some people read, or write, or knit, or bake, or whatever. Some hibernate, some go to a lot of movies, some dive headfirst into World of Warcraft or the like. Some ski and snowshoe or go sledding. Some take up mushing. Some go climbing. Snowmachining, ice fishing, winter biking…jogging. Some take classes or work to finish their degree. All of these things are common and accepted here in the ‘banks…it is one of the reasons I love it here.

I have plans for the winter as I suggest one must. Winter can be very long here if one does not have some means of intentionally navigating it. Skiing is of course right near the top of the list, but that is nothing new. Curling is new. So is learning to play bass, and teaching myself the basics of timberframing. I also typically get back into baking in winter and this year I realized that I have not made cinnamon rolls in a long time. But today it is snowing. Today is for skiing and letting the dogface frolic.

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