We went to the cabin last weekend and arrived Saturday, late in the afternoon. I quickly put on my skates and skated in circles on the frozen lake and pushed the kids into the snow and took pictures of snow angels as the sun set. I could see the beauty in blue of the sky and the sun hitting the snow. I watched the kids skate around me - blurs in dying light - and I found happiness in their pink cheeks and laughs that could be seen in the cold air.
But as the sun dropped below the treeline, the air turned colder and the wind picked up and my feet went numb and I went inside.
On Sunday, Luisa went cross-country skiing with one of our friends and they cut a trail around the entire lake, across the island and back. They returned exhilarated and convinced me to go so I set out with a friend soon after.
I am not immune to the beauty of winter all the time. Blue skis against white snow and the sun high in the sky - it seemed so clear and fresh and right.
We skied side by side, making slow steady progress but the wind began to blow across the tracks and burn our faces and I looked up to find that we were only 1/3 of the way around the lake.
But we kept going because I guess that's what you do.
Eventually, we made it to the other side of the lake and the wind was broken by the island and I could enjoy the quiet and the sounds of our skis against the hard snow. We stopped and watched a dried leaf tumble across a patch of untouched snow.
We watched a leaf.
I am not always open to that kind of reverence but, for a moment, I was.
We made our way across the island, through a patch of brambles. Are brambles really a thing? Maybe they were something else but I know they were prickly and annoying and I said, "Why the hell did they cut the path through here?"
I can't be reverent about brambles.
Skis crunching across thick brown stems - over and over. This was not skiing. This was trudging but we kept going because that was the way home.
I took off my skis rather than go down a hill and over a tree trunk and, once we were back on the surface of the lake, we continued. In the distance, we could see our daughters (my one, her two). They too were skiing, cutting trail right across the middle of the lake - slow, plodding.
"Do you think something is wrong?"
My friend yelled, "Are you okay?" One of the girls fell as they turned towards the voice. They all three answered "We're fine!"
We kept on our own path and finally arrived back at the cabin. I wasn't graceful in our trip around the lake but I had made it and that was accomplishment enough.
We took off our skis and watched as the girls continued to struggle towards home but then left them to it. When they came inside a half hour later, they were pure excitement and laughter and stories. I envied them. They are growing up in the cold and ice and it will be what they know. I am a transplant and often out of place.
I try. I have those moments when I can frolic like an arctic fox but, ultimately, I find myself longing for sun and warm breezes and the lapping of the lake on the shore. This winter has been hard and maybe all I can hope for are moments...a leaf skittering on a frozen lake, a cardinal on a snowy branch, my daughter and her friends cutting their own trail. Maybe that's how we keep going...moment by moment...because that's what you do.