Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Good-bye cross country skiing

The first time I tried cross-country skiing, I wasn't done healing from chest surgery. It made my tentative pole plans particularly poignant -- I paid for each slip. Maybe that's why I remember that 1970s day particularly well. It was the start of a great relationship. I was never a competitive skier, but I loved skiing the skinny skis on skinny woods trails (classic only please -- no highways for me). It was a great sport for an outing in Montreal's big city parks, and a spectacular sport in the stubby Laurentians.

In those days we had months of decent snow cover in Quebec. In the early 1980s, I even had one very memorable ski outing in the San Gabriel mountains overlooking Los Angeles. Things were turning though. In central Pennsylvania, where I did my residency training, the nordic ski resorts were closing by the late 1980s. Since then it's been mostly downhill.

This winter looked like it might be an exception; we some great snow cover in the twin cities before Christmas. I saw a park packed with skiers. Alas, the weather has returned to form -- gray and mild. The Twin Cities now has the climate of central Indiana or Iowa.

There will still be snowy days in Saint Paul, and even some days below zero, but the world is moving on. Global Climate Change may mean Europe gets much colder, but for the northern US it mostly means milder weather.

I don't think our kids will ever cross country ski -- unless we move to altitude or to Houghton Michigan. I do miss it though.

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