Friday, February 24, 2017

No-break February

“What day is it?” my groggy children mumble from the jumble of covers lately when I rouse them in the mornings. “Do we have school or skiing?”

Depending on the answer – and despite the fact my kids like both of those things – there is either disgruntled grumbling or a contented harumph sighed with the waking-up stretch.

This view from this "office" never gets old.
I have a distinct late-childhood memory of standing at the end of the driveway, skis and gear bag in hand, so early one winter morning that I watched the sun’s first pink glow while I waited for my lift to a ski race. I have non-racing skiing friends who were raised with the importance of being at the mountain for first chair drilled into them over many winters of pre-dawn wakeup calls.

Early mornings are simply part of the skiing game.

We are past the midway mark of ski season, at that divergent point that comes with every season: by now we are firmly settled into the winter routine, but fatigue is creeping in. I think that’s why schools schedule February break here – so we can all take a deep breath, pause, and regroup.

For some, that break means a trip to Disney World or some beach far south of here or a tropical cruise. For my family, February break means sleeping in an extra half hour, since the lifts don’t open until 9 o’clock next week. 

February is for skiing, and this month often features the best skiing of the season. Already this February, local skiers have enjoyed deep powder, firm corduroy, and spring-like conditions. We’ve had dumping snow, sunny skies, and even a bit of – ugh – rain. It’s like a whole ski season of variability wrapped into 28 short days.

Next week it won’t matter what day it is; we’ll be off to the ski hill bright and early every morning. That is, assuming everyone stays healthy.

Last year my kids kicked off school vacation week with a three-way case of strep throat. Some may call that good timing, having an off week to recoup. But there is very little couch-sitting around our house between the end of November and the middle of April. (We’re actually not big fans of couch-sitting in any season.)

The Crud hit when I was smack in the middle of two straight weeks of coaching. Thank goodness for a Nana who believes she is invincible in the face of germs. She took my sick kids until the antibiotics kicked in, at which point they were back on the slopes. By the end of that week, though, I was hit with a can’t-get-out-of-bed variety of sick.

This year I am trying to pace myself – and the kids. I nag them constantly to wash their hands, keep said hands away from faces, take their daily vitamins. We eat lots of vitamin C-rich foods. We go to bed early.

There is skiing to be had, after all, and while fatigue may be creeping in during this mid-winter madness, so is the awareness that we are on the waning side of ski season.

In the corporate world, the proverbial early bird may get the figurative worm. In the ski world, the early riser gets first chair, which means fresh tracks on a powder day, smooth corduroy on all the others. We’ll take our downtime in April.

Original content by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul, posted to her blog, Writings From a Full Life. This essay also appears as Meghan's Close to Home column in the Feb. 24, 2017 issue of the Littleton Record. 

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