The other day I was having a conversation about skiing with someone who had never skied before. It occurred to me just how much I adore the snow by the way this person was looking at me while I spoke. She was giving me a magical look with kind eyes and a warm smile that reflected my feelings about that amazing winter substance we know as snow.
For as much as I love it, I sure do live in the wrong place. Unfortunately the Pacific Northwest of Washington state doesn’t get much snow. According to the National Climatic Data Center over a 24 year period, Olympia’s yearly average was 10.8 inches.
As I child, I can remember on the rare occasion it did snow, seeking blissful solitude by ensconcing myself outside at night. I noticed that somehow the world was a different place. Extremely peaceful, soothingly quiet, and utterly magical. I’d quite happily stay outside when it was snowing until I was nearly blue and frozen. I was joyfully unaware of the frigid temperatures and was simply transfixed by the breathtaking sight before me. In the darkness of night, I’d gaze up at the pattern of falling snow under the street lamp. Looking out over the lawn, the blanket of fresh and smooth snow would shimmer and sparkle in the dim light. Often, fantasies of a famous magical wardrobe would come into view, but usually I’d just sit, listen and watch. I could only be lured into the warm house by the promise of cocoa.
Another wonderful snowy winter memory is one with my brother. When Ian and I were children, like most siblings – we’d engage in snowball fights. Our “snowball fights” consisted of us running around the front yard while he somewhat gently hit me with snowballs and I laughed myself silly – not managing to construct a proper snowball through all my laughter – thus never hitting him in return. Looking back I can’t really remember what was so darn funny, but whatever it was, I was in stitches. As I recall, my memories of us playing video games on our Atari were very similar, but that’s another story.
I am so very thankful that learning to ski as an adult has returned me to my love of the snow. Wherever I am; Aspen, Whistler or our very own Crystal Mountain at the base of Mt. Rainier, I am always brought back to my childlike wonder.
Winter sports and actives offer the snow lover a whole host of amazing opportunities. If you enjoy any amount of speed, skiing and snowboarding are a great way to get your snow fix while speeding down the side of a mountain. Now just stop and think about that for a second. You are making your way down a mountain. At times quite gracefully and effortlessly and other times perhaps not so much, but the point is, you and the mountain are one. She will challenge you with a plethora of conditions and terrain for you to navigate through. Bitter cold, wind, snow, ice, powder, clear sunny skies and everything in between. But those who know, when the conditions are right, there is nothing better than breathing in harmonious sync with each turn and curve, feeling the beautiful balance between you and the mountain. Because let’s not forget, you are there simply by the grace of her will.
Now if a tad slower and slightly less adrenaline is your flavor, then try snowshoeing. Talk about getting back to nature; snowshoe trails can take you along a frozen lakes edge, through Narnia’s forest or to over 12,000 feet at the top of Aspen Mountain. Don’t worry, once you get going, you’ll stay nice and warm if you just keep moving. And if you really want to spike your heart rate, simply step off the trail to forge your own way through knee deep snow. Believe me, try snowshoeing for three and a half hours like my friend Andrea and I just did and you’ll be ready for a hearty meal and a nap afterwards.
Of course, snow is cold. But not if you have the proper gear. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or whatever your cold weather sport, the proper gear can mean the difference between utterly miserable and contently comfortable. To be honest, the good stuff will cost you, but it’s worth it’s weight in down. Water resistant or even water proof boots, pants, jacket and gloves will help to keep you dry and comfortable. Make sure to put a pack of hand and even foot warmers in your jacket. Fingers & toes get easily cold even if you have good gear and these warmers are a great back up. Don’t forget knee high wool socks, a good base layer, a fleece mid-layer and all other personal accoutrements to keep you cozy.
Even as an adult, I can quite happily sit and watch it snow all day. Perhaps lazily wander into the kitchen to make a rich and smoothing cup of cocoa, glance down from time to time at a book or magazine and then dreamily gaze out the window again. I find that when it’s snowing, I must keep looking out the window to make sure it is still snowing and keeps snowing. It could just keep snowing endlessly for all I care, for I have never experienced too much snow. All things are magical, the world is at peace and I’m once again a child when it is snowing.