16.5 F
Monday, January 30, 2023

Real Life – Wintertide


Cabin fever came early this year. I am doing what I can to buck up.

I don’t remember feeling this way as a kid, most likely because winter was a glorious time in upstate New York. 

The relatively moderate winter temperatures produced snow we referred to as “packing.” This presented the youngest among us chances to make countless snowmen, but as we got older, in addition to fashioning forts for snowball fights, our creations became more elaborate. One of the best involved our father’s help: a Tyrannosaurus Rex that was tall enough to appear to be eating into the side of our ranch house’s roof! 

Skating and ice hockey were also a focal point, thanks to the influence of the college sports powerhouse RPI, across from Albany in Troy. My father flooded the field behind our house, stringing spotlights around the rink. Home-grown skating lessons commenced once the ice set smooth.

We began with two-runner skates, leather-strapped to our boots. When balance was mastered,  we graduated to regulation skates. We branched out to skating on frozen ponds in the forest, and eventually, my brothers made their school hockey team. 

Probably to get us out of the house, my youngest brother and I were also signed up for the Dryden Ski School when I was 12, and he was only 9. I had already spent six weeks on my own at overnight camp, but taking a bus to the mountains every Saturday was a giant step toward independence, athletic confidence and a lifelong love of the outdoors.

Downhill skiing was slightly scary, intuitive and exhilarating. Learning to read snow, moguls, trail maps and weather conditions, like reading strangers in the ski lodge, was specific to the experience, but proved useful throughout life.

Facing the challenge of cabin fever, like mastering a winter sport, requires a positive attitude.  As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather. Just bad clothing.

Head out! (c)

Patti Koltes
Patti Koltes
Real Life © by Patti Koltes. Contact her at pkoltes@gmail.com.