I have not posted recently because I’ve been skiing and taking pictures. I return from skiing exhausted and can barely function. If I sit at the computer, I fall asleep. I take some ibuprofen, eat, and do whatever is absolutely necessary before getting into bed where I sleep like a rock. Then I go skiing again. I’m 68 years old and haven’t skied through a winter in 42 years. Besides being older, I’m 80 pounds heavier.
If not skiing, I go out looking for aspects of Vermont to photograph.
Barbara and I are in Essex Junction, Vermont, for the winter. As a kid, I loved winter, and I learned to ski as a young adult. As I grew older, I lived the ordeal of fitting daily work into winter. Memories of winter have haunted me ever since, and in retirement, I have been gradually envisioning plans to experience winter again. This past autumn we got serious.
We traveled to Vermont in the autumn to find an apartment near a ski area. We stayed a couple of days with Bill and Kathy, my brother and sister-in-law. His neighbors, who were heading to Arizona for the winter to play golf, offered to rent their home.
Our new landlords would gain some rental income and caretakers for their home and car, and we would have a furnished home in an interesting village, near a ski area and a vibrant city (Burlington). Even better, we would be next door to Bill and Kathy, giving us a wonderful opportunity to build our family relationship.
We packed the pickup on December 31, 2012 and left for Vermont on January 1. By January 7, I was skiing at Bolton Valley Ski Resort. That first day of skiing was a disaster. I fell several times and cracked my head twice. Heading into a tumble at 15 mph is more dangerous for an overweight man in his late 60s than for an athletic 20-year-old. I ended the day uninjured but scared, so I spent a week resting and thinking.
Maybe a gradual approach would be better: stick to the beginner’s trails, master them one at a time and quit for the day as soon as fatigue begins. It worked, and I returned to the mountain again and again. Now I’m skiing intermediate trails three or four days per week. Last week I skied five days in a row.
Everyone thinks you’re free in retirement, yet retired life still tends toward routine commitments. Volunteer work, regular obligations with organizations and family, and perhaps general inertia all lead retirees to lives of custom and habit. Of course there is great merit in regular practice, but there is also great relief in periods of adventure.
Two easy steps can take you to adventure:
- Dream: first, dream up appealing adventures, perhaps from things you did when young, or adventures you wanted to have but couldn’t.
- Scheme: second, begin to figure ways of living the dream. The scheming often involves money because your dreams often ignore real constraints .
This year’s Skiing dream began with visions of powder skiing in the West, and it grew into this trip to Vermont. It took us three years or so to put it all together. We selected Vermont over the West because it was closer to home and my brother lived there. We compiled a list of potential rentals from classified ads in Vermont newspapers. We were prepared for a six-month lease, and we were planning to look in Newport, where the cost of living is lower. After receiving the offer from my brother’s neighbor, we switched our plans to Essex Junction. The Bolton Valley Ski Resort is close.
Worth it? I’m thinking now of the quiet rides up the mountain, humming along at a constant speed, looking up into the snow and fog or out across Bolton Valley. I’m thinking of heading silently down hill, alone on the trail, body bent and poised to absorb the shock of changing terrain, turning left then right then left to keep a safe speed, emerging finally from the fog into an open, wide trail, still alone, a cold wind biting my face. I’m thinking of watching a family emerge from a glade, kids yelling with glee, parents nearby. I’m thinking of watching expert skiers descend a fiercely steep, narrow, mogul-laden trail, their legs moving precisely, quickly, bodies in perfect balance, flying downhill.
I am trying to ignore the pains in my knee and shoulder.
What’s your adventure? I would love to hear about your dreams and schemes.