Are you a winter lover? I am, but I wasnt always like that. Oh sure, I liked making snowmen and sliding on frozen puddles as a kid, but as an adult, I would get chilled to the bone, just walking from the inside to the car.
Then Ski for Light entered my life, and it changed everything. Suddenly, winter was fun, especially snow, and especially when there was enough to cross country ski on. Ski for Light is a week-long program of cross country skiing for people who are visually impaired or have a disability that impairs their mobility. Sighted guides pair up with folks like me, and we play in the snow with long skinny sticks on our feet. Many of us have never even seen cross country skis before we are introduced to the sport at Ski for Light, SFL. Many of the guides have never actually talked with a person who is blind or who uses a wheelchair, let alone guide them on skis. Its a magical week both for the visually impaired skiers and for the guides. Its an all volunteer organization, and each participant, whether sighted or blind pays his/her own way. Each year, the event is held in a different venue within the U.S., and Ive been skiing in many states, from Alaska to Vermont.
The SFL motto is If I can do this, I can do anything. After learning to ski, overcoming a fear of going downhill on skis, experiencing the sheer determination of trudging uphill, and tasting victory in a 5K or 10K race at the end of the week, that motto takes on not only a poignant meaning, but also a promise. Many of us discover that vigorous physical activity is not only good for us, but also fun. We take up cycling, kayaking, hiking, white water rafting, and/or sailing. SFL gives us a whole new outlook on life, and that goes for the guides as well. Ill probably write more about SFL next month when this seasons event takes place in Michigan, but for now, Im grateful for the snow weve had, for 2 reasons. First, it puts everybody in the mood for the holidays, and secondly, for my cross country skiing friends, it marks the beginning of the best part of the year.
Its really sad to hear people snarl at the sight of new fallen snow. I feel sorry for these people, because they havent discovered the joy of playing in snow. They arent seeing the beauty of this pristine blanket that softens the world. They arent savoring the silence of a walk on a snowy path in a pine-scented forest. They dont look up and see the bluest of skies and the blue-tinted snow under the pines. They arent relishing the joy of skating on top of a frozen pond or zooming down the side of a hill on a sled or a cafeteria tray. They dont see the humor of sinking up to their knees in a snow drift or engaging in a snowball fight. They see only the scraping of windshields, shoveling out the driveway, the traffic jams, and the frozen fingertips as they try to text about this miserable weather. In other words, they havent learned to enjoy winter like folks do who live in places that get a lot more snow than we do. In places like Vermont, the weathermen announce with glee that snow is on the way, so grab your skis or your snowboard. Where I live, the weathermen predict doom and gloom with the possibility of snow. I get it that its dangerous to drive on this stuff, but it seems that we just need to learn how to play in it. How about a little more positive attitude here? Bundle up. Make it fun. Sing out, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.