Friday, January 20, 2012

A foray into cross-country skiing

Let me begin by saying Ottawa winter's are long and cold. As everyone who lives here knows, the snow is exciting in December, but by February it can beat at your resilience. The only way to cope, in my humble opinion, is to embrace winter and get outdoors.
When I moved back to Ottawa about 10 years ago, I took up cross-country skiing again. I had done it as a child (remember the Jack Rabbit Ski Club?), but not in many (many) years. After a few years of skiing, I can claim no proficiency, but a love of the cold air and quiet woods always put a big smile on my face. Once my son was born, I swapped my skis for snow-shoes knowing I wasn't skilled enough to propel another human being.
Recently, while out on one of our weekly hikes, my son was captivated by the cross-country skiers that kept passing us. My head immediately filled with images of us skiing as a family to a cabin for dinner with only the soft "whoosh whoosh" of our synchronized skis breaking the wintery silence. My practical brain did interrupt with the concern that it was a lot to invest in equipment only to find he doesn't really like it.
Fortunately, my practical brain was only whispering this advice and the next day we went out looking into cross-country ski options. I did warn Q that we wouldn't actually be buying skis that day, we were only looking. Repeatedly. I swear.
We checked out Fresh Air Experience, a sports store on Wellington St. in Hintonburg, where we live. They are  chock full of cross-country skis, even for little people. Seriously, you should see the tiny boots they had. They even sell some used equipment from trade-ins. After skis, poles, and boots, we would still have been looking at ~$250 to get Q started. Gulp. Did I mention it was two weeks after Christmas? (They do have a great program where each year you can trade in the child's boots for a bigger size for only $30. Check it out if you're committed.)
Q really wanted to try these skis in the snow and was quite upset that we weren't leaving with them. So, we discussed how we weren't actually buying skis today, just looking. Again.
We headed to Tim's Used Sports store across the street and found a set of skis and boots just his size for $120 (plus $13 poles). Q tried them on, and walked around in them for awhile. His face shone. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
He was again upset at the prospect of leaving without these skis. Of course, being a used store, there was no guarantee they'd be there when we came back either. So, Mummy is a big sucker and we left with those skis. I struggled with skis, poles, and stroller down to a street with some snow and he immediately tried them on and started skiing. He's a natural. He skied every day for a week: in the backyard, on the sidewalks when it snowed, in the parks.
He's still doing the beginner shuffle, but the big smile on his face hints at future family outings.
They were an unexpected expense at an inopportune time (one we are still paying for), but they were worth every penny.

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