Winter in October, too early it seemed. In this corner of Oregon, brushing up against Idaho and Washington, winter is an erratic force. The only constant is that it lasts and lasts. In between, it can ice up, freeze, blizzard. It is no place for the timid. Slide off a road here and it could be days before you are found. That's why we drive with all the survival gear: sleeping bags, food, water, shovels, chains, sand bags.
It didn't matter that I wasn't ready, hadn't recovered from the long spell of summer. It was coming anyway. For the first time, I wondered if I was cut out for winter. I split large rounds of wood. Put all the backpacking gear away. Brought out running tights, hats, mittens, ice creepers. But I wasn't happy about it.
Winter would be different if I lived in a snowbound village where there was no need to drive, and where you could ski from your house into the big woods. Here, that is sometimes possible, but not always. Snow flirts with the town, sometimes making us hike for it, other times risk the white-knuckle mountain road to 6,000 feet. It's not an easy season for me to love.
I've lived in two places with one season: South Florida with its perpetual summer, and Southeast Alaska with its own particular brand of endless fall. It always felt a little out of balance. Something was missing.
Today we slogged through half a foot of new snow, scouting. There is something about the warmth you feel when exercising in winter that isn't replicated any other time: the tingle as blood comes back to your Reynaud-afflicted fingers, the slow delicious heat that makes you shed layers when it is below freezing. I like that.
I just need to look at winter differently, not as if it is stealing summer from me. There's more time to bake bread, to finish the fire memoir, to visit the long-neglected gym. To decide if I am going to do part of the Washington PCT, and if so, which parts (Sections J, K, and L are too long when combined, so how to split them). Figure out if the Alaska novel is still worth shopping around. Ice skate, a lot. Ski. Snowshoe. Winter camp, this time more successfully (a closed cell foam pad and a dog would be helpful). Do yoga, not just say I am doing it.
|Another benefit of winter? A chance to rock the down skirt!|