Monday, January 16, 2006

Cross-country skiing

My friend Cinderella and I have a tradition of going into snow country on MLK Day. This year we went to the Alpha and Omega rest stop off Highway 20, whose portentous name made me think one or both of us would end up giving birth and/or dying. There we donned our hats and gloves and skis to enter the woods.

It was rough terrain that made me miss the groomed trails at Royal Gorge. The middle of the trail had fairly packed snow (pockmarked, however, from dogs' paws and snowshoes) that we skied on, but the sides of the trail that you use for poling were soft and VERY DEEP. Many times my pole sunk down, catching me off guard. The analogy would be: you're on crutches and every now and then one crutch is instantly shorter by 10 inches.

We skiied about eight miles. I confess I'm a little bruised and battered. At one point Cinderella and I were completely stopped, motionless, talking, NOT MOVING ONE WHIT, you understand... and I fell down.

As I lay there looking up at the sky I complained, "There was no reason for that to happen." Then while I clumsily stood up, the tree hovering over me unleashed seven heavy clods of snow upon me. Nature was evil today.

But there's something so amazingly invigorating about X-C skiing. My cheeks felt burned with all the good blood rushing through them... and our vista over the valley was worth all the trudging.

And trudge we did. We forded a running stream several times, skirted a fallen tree and broke trail at one point (well, I broke it to the vanishing point and then we returned back to the trail. We were looking for better ground and we didn't at all mean to create a trail that others might follow, thinking it led somewhere good... although that might actually be funny). I remarked we were like Lewis and Clark, and Cinderella wittily revised us to "Louise and Clara."

And now, to return to the man whose abbreviated work on this planet we remember today, here is a passage of Dr. King's that I found on Stanford's website. He might possibly approve of our nature-seeking on his day:

"And it was at this time of year that I made it a practice to go out to the edge of the campus every afternoon for at least an hour to commune with nature. On the side of the campus ran a little tributary from the Delaware river. Every day I would sit on the edge of the campus by the side of the river and watch the beauties of nature. My friend, in this experience, I saw God. I saw him in birds of the air, the leaves of the tree, the movement of the rippling waves...."

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