by: Brad Nelson
My mom said not to go out on the ice. “People have been falling through the ice on their snowmobiles and they have been telling people not to go out on the ice,” she said. I didn’t really argue but I didn’t really agree either. Getting out for a ski on their lake is a Christmas tradition for me up there with lefse and pickled herring. The drive to go is strong.
It was cold. And windy. The thermometer read 19 below. I pulled my down coat over my normal ski gear, strapped on my 70s-era Fischer fiberglass touring skis, and took off down the driveway.
I love these skis. It’s somewhat of a Christmas miracle that they still glide and kick ok because the bases are no longer glued to the ski in many spots. The P-Tex undulates like an ocean and is barely hanging on, but one ski adventure at a time I continue to ignore these problems and they continue to perform, loosely speaking. Skiing on them feels like driving a 1972 Olds 98, pure floaty luxury. The kick is always bomber and the glide is always slow, smooth, and stable
The road was surprisingly skiable for those on $5 Goodwill finds. I skied down to the dead end, bush wacked to the peninsula trail, and followed it to the dock used by the people with cabins on the island. Then I slipped out onto the ice.
The lake was cold and windswept. The snow was squeaky and sandpaper slow, but was a good depth for breaking trail. I was dressed warm, the cold wind was just brisk. I found a snowmobile track going my way and settled into a diagonal stride rhythm.
Over the holiday my family fell into conversations about politics, climate change, racism, tax “reform,” net neutrality, the environment, Russian meddling, the future of social security, and many other issues that are incredibly hard to control but huge for our lives. We talked about my cousin in Iowa that refers to progressives like us on Facebook as “libtards” in sentences like, “What are all the libtards going to do about it, we have all the guns?” Luckily, he’s not my only cousin. We talked about how people are falling through the ice because climate change has altered our winters in a short span of time. When I was a kid you could drive a truck on the ice to your icehouse by Christmas and that’s still expected. We talked about how us Americans do so little to stop climate change because Big Oil has a death grip on the system. We held and adored my new niece and nephew. We basked in my daughter’s infectious holiday spirit. We talked about a lot of other things, too, big and small.
But for the moment, I just skied.