The field in my neighborhood is shaped like a smushed (technical term) map of the contiguous United States. In the summer, the field grows grasses for silage, people walk their dogs and children around the person-made footpath, and crickets sing each evening. In the winter, the path becomes our salvation, a perfect loop for cross country skiing, and getting both air and exercise during our short, dark days. My personal guide to the winter Big Field:
1. The Mid-Atlantic: where we cut through the trees and buckle on our skis. The slope makes it a little tricky, keep the skis at an angle.
2. Michigan: the first slight decline, where we get a little “Whoop!”
3. North Dakota: Right around here it’s natural to pause and look back, and see how far we’ve gone. It’s one of the quietest spots on the loop.
4. Alaska: For the experienced skier, this is the biggest downhill slope. For the rest of us, we cut across to the Pacific Northwest for a good hill down the coastline to southern California.
5. L.A.: Just like the city, L.A. is a fast place, with sharp turns. Bear left and avoid the trees.
6. The Heart of Texas: Right about here, we forget the skis are separate from our bodies, and become one with it all: the skis, the sky, the field.
7. Florida: A good smooth run to the last little bit of the loop, here we can jump over to the rec path if we wish, or turn back up the East Coast, to return home.
This little loop, a 30-45 minute ride, keeps us on the right side of sanity. Moving through the frozen world with a couple of sticks, simple machines, we embrace our environment in its darkest coldest times. And we are warmed by the effort.
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