Sunday, December 18, 2016

A cross-country ski close to home

Last night, on my way home from a movie in downtown Fort Collins, the thermometer in my car dipped to minus 6. This morning it was right at 2-plus. But then, the Colorado sun came out and the temperature began to climb until it was reaching for 25 degrees by noon. Pull out the long underwear, mittens and hat, grab the cross-country skis, still in the front closet from last winter, and get out there for the first ski of the season.

I only have to take a few steps before I’m in powder, within sight of my front door. I live in town but on a boulevard with a wide grassy strip in the middle, that runs about three-quarters of a mile west from my house into a cemetery, golf course and city park. No hills. No excitement, and this Sunday morning no traffic, just quiet and virgin snow except for a sole set of tracks that I happily follow.

Within minutes, I’m warmer than I’ve been all morning inside my house. After being totally alone for more than a mile, I arrive at the golf course where ski-skaters have carved out a course and are flying around it. It would sure be fun to have the kind of skis that would let me do that, but still, I’m content plodding along at my own pokey pace, just happy to be outdoors beneath such a brilliant blue sky.

I cruise around for a while, then head back toward the cemetery where it strikes me that the artificial poinsettia plants beside some graves look a little out of place poking through the snow. More surprising is the sight of several deer wandering around searching for food. They seem quite at home and don’t scurry away as I ski by. With fairly busy roads surrounding the cemetery, I wonder how they found their way to this safe place and more importantly how are they going to get back where they belong, perhaps in the foothills a few miles away?

I’ve been gone less than two hours.

I can’t think of a better way to spend the Sunday afternoon before Christmas!

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