Friday, January 23, 2015


I am not exactly sure how it happened.  But apparently, we have become a nordic skiing family.  Maybe it happened, or began, a few years ago, when the winter was long, and the child energy was high, and we decided that something had to be done.  We either needed to move south or embrace the Maine winters.  And so, we returned to the activity of my childhood: cross country skiing.  

There followed the more difficult years, those in which Jonathan -- skiing for the first time in his life at age 35 -- did not know how to stay vertical for very long, or how to turn, and could certainly never be expected to do both at the same time.  And therefore, I was the one who pulled an increasingly large baby and then toddler behind me in a pulk.  Following behind toddler Julia in an adorable, brightly colored onesie snowsuit swishing along behind her bigger brother, Nicholas.  Those hills when she, in a crouch, would sing wheeee down the hills and around the corner in the groomed tracks just right for her.  Always bringing up the rear of our troop, skiing up to the one who had fallen, who was exhausted and crying, handing out snacks from my overly stuffed pockets.

But at some point that toddler in the pulk began to ski.  And the pulk was sold off on Craigslist to another family, just beginning their own movement through the woods, as best they could.  And then,  with some of that gear shed, I was less exhausted by just the carry-the-gear-to-the-trailhead, before we even began to ski.  And we began to move more fluidly through the woods.  And, honestly, it became more and more fun to be out there.  

And Jonathan, every once in a while, started to be able to combine vertical and turning. Amazing.

It was glorious and beautiful and fun.  The woods in the snow, with my happy, giggling pink cheeked well exercised children.  Oh, I love it so.  Then.  Screech, enter the chemicals, stage left.

I had thought waxing was a thing of my childhood.  My father used to carry a fanny pack full of his secret brews of waxes that were for gripping and waxes that were for sliding.  Often, when my whining became too loud and awful for him to ignore, he would tip me upside down in a snow bank, skis in the air, and apply his fat wax chapsticks to the bottoms of my skis, buff it smooth with his corks, and stand me back up again and send my back up the insurmountable hill.  I would hup hup up, turn to him and smile, and swish down the other side and out of sight.

In high school, my parents purchased a new set of skis for me.  They were waxless.  And I thought, well, that's it for the wax.  That fanny pack was tucked away in the back of the gear closet.  Old fashioned and no longer necessary.  

Well, apparently not, I have been told by our children with only a touch of teenaged oh mom attitude.  They are taking up skate skiing, and are skiing for speed and not just for the glides through the woods with pauses to look at the birds, sip from the hot cocoa thermos, and say whee and giggle in slides down the hills.  Those moments are still there, we still have them.  But I am now struggling along behind them, barely keeping up, so that I don't miss them.

Waxing still happens, but not just for stickage to help little legs get up slippery hills.  Though I still whip out my own packet of wax from time to time to do this for Elliott and end it by offering a sip of hot cocoa and a cookie for good mood.  

Instead, waxing now happens to help one move faster.  And the kids have moved from classic skiing to skating.

This weekend, we took the kids to a wax clinic.  And a wax guru, seriously, no joke, a wax wizard he was, taught them how to wax their skis.  I stood in the back of the wax room, and asked questions in the beginning of our time with him.  And then I realized that Nicholas and Julia had this.  They were learning and eager.  And I stood back while they worked together to wax.

And so, experts they are becoming.  

A recent Craiglist treasure trove has landed in a heap in the basement, courtesy of another family, their children now older and no longer in need of their gear and waxing equipment.  Reminding us of just how quickly this all passes.  And that one best jump in with both skis, and enjoy the ride.  Not to mention that the family threw in some fashionably fabulous apparel.  

Don't worry, so far these skin tight get ups are only worn in the kitchen.  For goofiness.

All week I have been hearing the same thing as I pick them up after school.  Mommy.  Can we set up the wax room in the basement today?  And so, a whole new part of the adventure begins.  

And I am working away at turning our terrifying basement into a wax room.  Swishing along behind them.  Trying to keep up.

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