Skiing Together

We had our first family ski day of the season yesterday.

In December, we bought mid-week season's passes for a local-ish ski resort at a reduced price from full season's pass rate.

The resort is Bromont, about an hour and fifteen minutes from the city. Mid-week passes give us access from Monday night thru Thursday night and the hill is open from morning till 10pm. Our plan is to ski one day a week, morning to late afternoon or lunchtime through evening. Night skiing here we come.

Returning to what has become our winter habit, we will once again be skiing through the season. And I couldn't be happier.

When we moved to Montreal we lost easy access to the outdoors. We moved here for very clear reasons, for everything the city could offer our family at this stage of life - homeschool community and resources, socially engaged and culturally relevant church, post-secondary and other education opportunities. But we left the beautiful Gaspe Peninsula to do so.

It's been months since our family has spent a day together in the outdoors, and a ski resort isn't exactly the nature-focused outdoors experience we are accustomed to.

Since coming home from our thru-hike (if you're new here, in 2014 my family hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, hiking was our life for nearly six months), we've gone hiking all together three times and the kids and Damien went hiking once without me. That's four family hikes in fifteen months.

When we came home from hiking the Appalachian Trail, some of us, ok Brienne and I, weren't sure if we'd ever want to hike again. Both of us are prone to hyperbole so that was an exaggeration of our hiking fatigue, but not by much.

These days, as adventure ideas get bantered around the dinner table Brienne remains uncertain, interested in travel and not wanting to be left out but not eager to sign up for privations of any kind, especially as related to personal presentation and hygiene.

I understand. I'm ok with certain physical privations; sleeping in tents, having one change of clothes, pooping in the woods, these things don't bother me. However, I shudder at the idea of intellectual and creative privations and quite frankly I'm not up for the challenge of pushing myself physically and mentally the way I did while hiking the trail.

Maybe someday when Damien and I figure out how to resolve some of our fundamental differences in how we engage with nature (he seeks challenge, I seek beauty), when I feel secure and confident in who I am, and when I have re-trained my cognitive patterns to respond in healthy ways when beset by challenge I will be ready for another long distance hike, but not yet, not now. (It's not on the radar but it's always in the back of our collective conscious.)

The intensity of our thru-hike, the fall-out after that, a season of physical rest, and moving to the city closed the door, for the time being, on one day a week. Something that was a bedrock of our family life for nine years. The end of an era.

This isn't to say we won't hike or backpack together again as a family but with three teenagers who have diverging interests our years of rallying the troops together around a common interest, recreation or hobby are coming to a close.

But skiing continues to stick because skiing is fun. And I cherish that.

I cherish this thing we do together, in an age when together interests are hard to cultivate. (This is one reason I've become a fan of video console gaming. No, not for myself, I still have no interest, but the other four love it. As they rally around their common quests and campaigns I see the value in supporting that connection. Plus, it gives me time for my evening hobbies and interests.)

The kids probably think I'm an overly sentimental mom (I am) when I exclaim, while waiting in the chair lift line, "isn't this so great to be together out here?"

They might roll their eyes, they're usually wearing goggles so I can't tell, but I'm still happy to be standing in line with them.

They have no idea how fleeting these years are and I do.

Filed Under

« A phototherapy light
Making a wellness plan for winter »
  • Michelle

    Michelle on Jan. 8, 2016, 1:04 a.m.

    Just a thought Renee. You speak of you and Damien trying to "resolve some of your differences". My husband and I could not be further apart in personality, ideas, longings and goals, but we are deeply comitted and have been married since we were teenagers, for over 32 years! He loves to travel. I loathe it. He goes on business trips often, which satisfies his desire. Two years ago I told him to go on a hot trip. without me. gasp. And he did. He went to the Dominican Republic for a week with one of our sons in law. Both of us were happy. I was happy because I didn't have to go and he was happy because we went. I love to stay home and be all domestic and farmish. He builds me chicken coops and I look after the animals. Again, both happy. Could it be possible that you don't have to be exactly alike and still have a close happy marriage? Two totally different people who are totally committed? :)


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 8, 2016, 2:10 a.m.

      I appreciate the thought and see wisdom and opportunity in that. Absolutely we can be happy, have a close marriage, and not be exactly alike (we've never been alike!) Our differences are probably our strenght. 

      I don't expect us to be alike but I actually love being outdoors (I've had some of my most profound moments of beauty and worship in nature), so does Damien, just in different ways, and we still would like to bring those differences together in some form of outdoor pursuits, but it's a mystery what that will look like - that's what I mean by resolving our differences. I am domestic and like to be rooted but I also love to go places and experience things. I am wanting to partner that with Damien's adventurous streak in a way that supports who both of us are. 

      I really like being with Damien, and feel very comfortable with him, and the thought of spending long-ish periods of time apart does not interest me, but maybe that will change as we grow, who knows. 

      We have considered what you mention here but not while our kids are still home, because I don't want to single parent in his absence. He does occasional work trips (once a year?) but I'm not prepared for him to do long treks while the kids are at home and he doesn't want to either. 

      None of it is bad. Totally committed and totally different, or totally commited and somewhat the same, or totally different and seeking common ground, each has merit and provides fulfillment, I suspect, in different ways. Finding that sense of fulfillment in who we are as individuals, and in the union of our marriage is something we are both commited to :) 


  • Krista

    Krista on Jan. 8, 2016, 3:56 p.m.

    That is a nice, long ski day. The hill we use in the mountains closes very early - true, people are usually decently tired by then if we get there early but even an hour-ish more would make the drive and expense feel more worthwhile. Next winter, the governement is offering free national park passes - definitely incentive to plan for more skiing as we will avoid that one hefty added expense!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 8, 2016, 4:22 p.m.

      I hear you. Our ski hill on the peninsula was open from 9 till 3:30/4:00. So living close was a real bonus. Now that we have to drive 3 hours in one day to make the trip (we listen to an audio book and the time flies) it's nice we can get a full day of skiing in. And I'm really pysched about night time skiing, something I haven't done for years and years. Yeh, free park passes will be great for you to drive to Jasper. We haven't visited a national park for years (we do the provincial park pass in Quebec, which the government here calls National parks, eye roll), but next year I'm sure we'll be doing more of that. 


  • Beth

    Beth on Jan. 11, 2016, 3:20 p.m.

    Hi Renee!  Just a quick note that for the past few weeks I haven't been receiving email updates about your posts.  Not even in my Spam filter.  I signed up again and never got an email asking me to confirm.  Not sure if there's something goofy on my end or if other people are having the same problem.  Thought you should know.

    Love the skiing pics!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 11, 2016, 3:44 p.m.

      Thanks for the heads up. It's not a problem on your end. We're aware of it and we're working on it :)


  • Anna

    Anna on Jan. 21, 2016, 4:41 p.m.

    I showed my 10 year old homeschooler Bobby,  your post and he wanted me to tell. We had our first ski trip of the year also yesterday, he hopes your was as fun as ours, and congratulations.



You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.