Here in this little mountain town in the southwest corner of Colorado, I'm getting to know the snow. And ice. And somanythings nice. Even though I lived in Flagstaff, I feel as if I spent most of my time avoiding winter weather...now I'm all up in it. By ski, by snowshoe, and yak traks for those icy trails. And by ecology.
Magical here, no?
On day three, B and I were driving through town listening to the local NPR station, KSUT, and heard the community calendar. "Seed saving day on saturday, fruit tree grafting class on saturday afternoon, winter ecology snowshoe training on thursday." Where are we?? And what is this winter ecology snowshoe thing? Well, soon enough we were trained volunteer naturalists for Durango Nature Studies leading groups of 5th graders on winter ecology snowshoe hikes at a local lake!
It's been a good way to get grounded here, to understand a little bit of this place. To know that Ponderosa Pine's smell like vanilla and the white bark dust of Aspen's can be used as sunscreen (only about SPF 5, but in a pinch...) and look at snow crystals under microscopes with kids learning about snow density and how animals survive the winter. It was my first time working with kids on my own! Whew, 5th graders are awesome, so kind and open, inquisitive, ready to help each other out, and so very ready to run in the snow. But this was definitely outside of my comfort zone--this adventuring has been a lot about pushing outside that zone. Something I haven't done in awhile, and it's really, really good.
Skiing has been one of those good challenges. The first few days on the ski's were terrifying--ever since that first click into those terribly uncomfortable boots, I realized, why on earth would I trap myself in these boots attached to these things called skis that make me not just slide uncontrollably, but careen downhill really fast? This skiing is an amazing collection of things I don't just dread but fear (fear of falling, fear of heights, fear of going super fast downhill, giving up control, fear of doing anything on ice (why on earth would a desert dweller do such a thing?) Even cross country skiing was scary! That's how bad it was. 2 lessons and several slow runs later, I can almost, almost, hit the bunny slopes. Mostly, I can get up when I fall (I'm really good at falling) and I don't feel like I'm going to die every second, I actually can enjoy the view from the high lifts. And sometimes, for a second, I'm actually having fun going down hill. And that's totally cool.