The title is a bit scary, but not really, if you consider how many “last times” there are. Tonight I read to the husband for the last time today. I wiped off the kitchen counter for the last time tonight. I had my last spoonful of ice cream before putting the lid on and sticking it back in the freezer (yes, I eat out of the carton). There’s a “last time” to be considered at every turn of life, and that thought alone has got me thinking about the preciousness of each moment.
Today was a great day for taking my last ski outing, and by last I mean that I have met my goal of 25 times this season. I am content for it to be the last – winter has seemed long. There is a lot of water around as the snow melts and it’s good to hear and see the brooks opening holes in the ice. There are lots of signs of spring. I was almost afraid it would be here before I reached my ski goal, but no, there is still snow in the forest.
It’s wet snow in the open places where the sun hits it. Snow gets kind of airy, sticky and rotten when it’s heated. In the shade it cools again and gets hard, icy and very slick and I could feel the difference in the speed of my skis. But the real challenge was all the piles of debris on the trail. The ice storm last week brought down lots of limbs. Pine cones and needles were all across the trail where volunteers had been through with chain saws and taken the big branches off.
Although I have improved in my balance, and my technique this winter, what I’ve really gotten better at is being cautious. The falls I’ve had, and the ones I’ve seen my friends take, have proved to me that things happen so, so fast. I’m now always thinking about what could happen in a given situation, and the risk involved. How sad would it be if, after skiing all season without breaking anything, I would fall and become injured on my 25th, and last, time? It would be very sad.
I thought about this at numerous points along the trail, but especially at the top of one hill on Hilly Loop. I generally like hills and going a little faster now, but at the bottom of this one there was a tree mess. I knew I would pick up speed going down and there would be a sudden slowing when my skis hit the debris. I had already “snow plowed” down a couple inclines and actually side stepped down one, but this time I actually took off the skis and walked down. Yay me.
Once I got out of the pines and into some hardwood areas the skiing was a bit better. I enjoyed the longest distance of any of my times on the snow – only 5.4 miles – but it made a nice finish for my last time. I felt very grateful for the day, the activity, the beautiful weather, and the fact that I was intact and not hurting (in very many places). It was wonderful to be alive, with the possibility of living to ski next year.
Today, I think they call it being “in the moment”. Isn’t that the same as being fully aware of what you’re doing and that it might be the last time you ever did it? Yeah, I think it is. Just sayin’…