Buy Daughter Skis, Feed the Chickadees, Mendon, NY
So, when she starts talking to me about taking on a new challenge like cross-country skiing, even though it’s a language almost foreign to me, I had better listen.
I tried to downhill ski, once. It was in California on a weekend away with my husband’s grad school buddies. Long ago, on a bunny hill somewhere in Lake Tahoe, Calif., I decided that strapping waxed wooden pieces to my feet and then surrenduring my body to the mercy of gravity was simply a horrible idea.
I was better suited for a flatter, more level playing field. So, the next year, I attempted cross-country skiing. I thought, how hard could it be? There are no hills to hurtle down and cause bodily injury. There are no ski lifts to try to jump on. Again, my new husband and I headed to Lake Tahoe for the weekend. It was a perfect, fresh-powdered blue-skied day to take my first five-mile trek on cross-country skis. I could run five miles at a time, so how much harder could skiing it be?
Much harder. Much.
Any ability to get my poles and my arms in rhythm with my feet in my skis completely escaped me. As soon as I would get any momentum going, I’d topple over into the snow. After falling over for about the 72nd time (I’m not exaggerating), I just sat there and wept in frustration. I took off my skis, walked back to the lodge and had a hot chocolate while the others effortlessly glided along the lakeshore.
So, when my daughter came to me with those big blue eyes sparkling with the promise of a new challenge, I was not going to put my failure on the slopes and the trails on her. But how much was this going to cost us?
We head out to a ski swap and sale at a middle school surrounded by farmland. This is one of the biggest ski swap and sales in the area, and the gym is packed with parents like us shopping from the area’s ski retailers. Thankfully, the high school ski coach is there to teach us the lingo (Classic skis, Combi skis and boots, Poles, Bindings.) and show us what we needed to buy. We need skis that she can use for both disciplines.
No, the two disciplines are not scary downhill and frustrating cross-country, as I thought. There are actually two disciplines of cross-country: classic and skate. About 40 minutes, — and hundreds of dollars – later, she had what she needed to hit the trails.
On the way home, we stopped at one of our favorite places to hike, Mendon Ponds Park, where my kids have been hand feeding the chickadees since they were little. It is one thing they still like to do and each time a bird lands in their hand, I get a glimpse into the past, see the little kids my big kids once were.
My daughter brings her poles along for the 2 mile hike, just to get a feel for them. Then, out of nowhere, my daughter wants me to give them a try. I listen to her and slip my thumb in the proper hole, adjust the velcro secure around the rest of my hand. Bend my elbows just so. And, in one final hike before the snows fall, my daughter and I take turns with the poles along the trail. Together. Side by side.