Most folks who live up here in the North Country will tell you that the winters are too long, but the last three, at least, haven’t been nearly long enough for me. Every December, after the first snow falls and ice covers our nearby lakes, I vow to dust off my old hockey skates and revisit that particular aspect of my misspent youth. But I’ve found that it can take more motivation than I’ve been able to generate these past few winters. I’ll think about it at some point on a weekend morning and then get distracted by something or other, the afternoon will come and go, night will descend, and before you know it, it’s April and the ice has turned to slush.
That’s been the pattern these past three or so winters. As much as I enjoy skating, I haven’t been able to push myself out the door and actually do it. And, to be fair, it does take a bit of convincing when the temperatures are in the low teens and a brisk wind is blowing out of the northwest. A nice hot cup of tea and a good book can sound like a pretty decent alternative.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, as I do each winter. For some reason, though, I mentioned my intention to My Lovely Wife on Sunday morning, suggesting that I might tag along when she went out on her daily walk around the lake and maybe take a few turns around the Lake Nokomis ice oval. She didn’t discourage the notion, but we came to no definitive conclusion and soon I had rearranged my agenda around other projects.
Then, around lunchtime, MLW announced she was heading out for her walk. Did I want to grab my skates? She could drop me off at the skating rink and pick me up after her walk. Then we could go have lunch somewhere. I had pretty much forgotten about the whole skating idea by then, and was preparing to take down the Christmas tree. So, I stood there in the hallway for a long moment, weighing the options. It would be so much more comfortable to just stay in the warm house, but part of me had wanted to get out on the ice just a few hours earlier. . . .
This is what inertia looks like. And the only way to break free is by having someone give you enough of a nudge to move you out of your comfort zone. Mission accomplished: I grabbed my skates and off we went.
And, as usually happens in these situations, it was the right decision. After a few shaky moments getting reacquainted with my old Bauers (which could use a good sharpening), I found my rhythm and began gliding around the oval more or less like old times. The sun was shining, the wind was relatively calm, and the crack in the ice that sent me sprawling about four laps into my workout was nothing more than a subtle reminder that I may not be as good at this as I might have imagined.
I did 20 laps or so before MLW returned to fetch me for lunch — probably 4 to 5 miles altogether — and though my knees were barking at me for some time afterward, the whole adventure was pretty exhilarating. I’ve got a feeling that this winter is going to last a good long time.