I had never heard of the term “spring skiing” until last week. In my southern ignorance I assumed that spring meant the arrival of flowers and sunshine. The first spring I spent in the Northwest dashed any hope of the springs of my youth, which started early and drew out as long as a southerner draws out her words. Springs here are a friendlier version of winter, much more akin to the winters I spent in Williamsburg. Temperatures persist in the 40s and clouds hang low, ready to release whatever grab bag of precipitation they have in store. Graupel, ice, snow, rain. Don’t know what graupel is? It’s when it snows Dip n Dots.
Apparently these cool temperatures and persistent snow make for ideal cross country skiing conditions. The snow is not too hard, and not too soft; perfect for any Goldilocks with two long skis strapped to her boots.
This redheaded Goldilocks continued to amaze her husband at her skiing abilities. Not because I am an expert, but because it is the one sport I haven’t failed miserably at in the first 1200 attempts. Don’t believe me? The first time I ever shot a basketball and made a basket at age 8 or 9, I called my dad to tell him. “I made a basket!” “Great!” he replied. “What’s it look like?”
I also amazed my husband during one spectacular wipe-out. Not many people can complete a full 360 degree turn on the ground, head over heels, after successfully coming down the hill.
We missed mass yesterday. It may or may not have had something to do with March Madness. Does it count if we were watching Notre Dame? It wasn’t my choice; I was just submitting to my husband’s authority like the Bible tells me to do. Kidding.
We aren’t perfect.
Then I read in my little Lenten devotional that this week was the story of the Transfiguration one. I like that one.
When we were little, my Dad used to bring me and my sisters on his house calls. Because we were Young and his patients were Old. Not Old as in old, as in any particular number, though I expect a few were voting in presidential elections while my grandparents were in their infancy. But Old as in they had always seemed to exist, to always be imparting infinite wisdom we were too young to understand. To remember a world before internet and nuclear weapons and color TV.
And we were Young. Young as in possessing some fresh faced idealism that we did not know we had. Young as in having some hope that they could see when they looked into our faces. But we didn’t know that, what was so wonderful about the Young.
One Sunday we went to tea at Janet Jenkin’s house. Always her full name. Janet Jenkin. She was Old and beautiful. Her house was too. My Dad said it was “Gingerbread” though I had no idea what that meant. The rooms overflowed with paintings, a hobby she had taken up later in life.
We sat down for tea. She offered up a prayer. As we buttered our scones she said that a few of us had been peeking during prayer. I didn’t know how she knew. We sipped our tea and I felt as if I was transported into another era, sitting in the gingerbread house full of paintings an Reader’s Digests from the time Johnson was a president, while my too short legs swung from the chair.
I wondered around. Her Bible sat on a table, opened to a page with a depiction of the Transfiguration. It seemed so pretty, Jesus with his flowing gold locks, Elijah and Moses with their pastel robes, the gilded border. Now, I would undoubtedly dismiss the pictures as cheesy Christian art, and whoever really thought that Jesus was white?
But when I was eight, it was beautiful. I told her that we had read that story in Mass that morning. She smiled.
Spring does not come with trumpets transforming the earth. It seeps in, every day a little more rain and a little less snow. One day we will notice there are buds on the tree, where the week before there had only been dead branches. We will notice there is no longer any snow piled up in the parking lots. The sun will feel warm and it will dawn on us that our scarves have remained untouched for weeks.
On that day, spring will appear.