Family: Enjoying Alberta outdoors this winter

Treena Mielke

So here we are in another two weeks of lockdowns.

At least another two weeks.

I still have my Christmas tree up and the presents under the tree are all piled up in a kind of lonely pilgrimage waiting.

Waiting for Christmas, I guess.

In the meantime, I have determinedly poured myself a cup of ‘half full mentality’ and kept in keeping on.

As far as rebelling against what is, I have no time, nor do I see any point.

Wear your mask, hand sanitize ignoring the fact that your entire hands begin to protest by stinging in a most uncomfortable way and get used to social distancing.

Learn to zoom.

Do not get too close. Hug everyone, but only in your mind.

Going along with the cup half full mentality means living in the moment and fully embracing beauty whenever and wherever you can find it.

Sometimes it is not easy.

I got cross-country skis for Christmas. I asked for them months ago, mentally visualizing myself effortlessly cross-country skiing with long gliding strides, being one with the universe, drinking in all the beauty and feeling so incredibly cool and fit.

I do not have one of those vision boards that people who are always visioning a better future for themselves talk about, but if I did, I would have a photo of myself on such a board looking like a poster child for 60-plus age group.

Alas, it did not work out that way.

I loaded my skis and my optimism into the car and headed down to the golf course where everybody whose anybody seems to ski these days. My daughter, the cross-country ski guru in our family, came with me.

I unloaded the skis and my optimism a few minutes later, smiling at everyone I saw.

“Beautiful day isn’t it,” I said, my persona oozing confidence.

And that is when I learned pride does go before a fall.

While in my case, pride goes before getting the skis on.

For some reason I could not. Do that.

Get the ski on.

I struggled, trying to maintain my cool 60s plus poster child image, but failing miserably.

“Put your foot in these little rubber things, mom,” my daughter said patiently. After half an hour she said, but a little less patiently “put your foot I these little rubber things and push down.”

Finally, finally I got the skis on.

And then I skied. It was awkward to say the least. I looked very much like someone learning to walk or skate.

And in the process, I forgot. I forgot to be one with the universe. I forgot to remember the cup half full mentally. I forgot to remember to be cool.

What I remembered was to keep moving very slowly behind my daughter and stay in the path. What I remembered was to keep on, keeping on.

So that was the first time I skied in 2021. Since that time, I have been out quite a few times and I have to honestly say I am so grateful for those skis and that I have the agility to move when I’m wearing them. True, I am awfully slow, and it does seem to take me a long time to do a simple thing like put the skis on.

But last time I went out I saw things. I saw three deer feeding peacefully, their huge brown eyes staring at me with liquid tranquility. I saw the western sky on fire, and I saw the trees, still and calm silhouettes against the backdrop of winter.

And, despite the lockdown, and missing all that could have and should have been these last months, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what is and optimism for what could be.

And I felt gratitude that I persevered and got those skis on.

They say the longest journey begins with a simple step, but in my case, the longest journey began with the step before that step.

But I got it, by golly. I got it.

Finally!

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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