My wife of many years inherited a cabin in northern Minnesota that we frequent every summer. For some unknown reason, she wanted to see what it looked like in the winter. I offered to have some local friends photograph it for us and send the pictures. This, however, was insufficient. She wanted to visit it in person and see for herself. Being a consummate giver, I naturally acquiesced.
We left snowy Buffalo and eventually landed in snowy and freezing Minneapolis. The four-hour trek north was desolate and windy and I had visions of “Dr. Zhivago” and the tune, “Somewhere My Love,” floating through my head.
We arrived at a buddy’s winterized house and, with the aid of his snowmobile, made it to our cabin and saw that it was the same except everything was white instead of green and you could walk on the lake, not swim in it. Mission accomplished, we raced back to the heated, cedar log cabin for some warmth as the wind chill factor plummeted to 20 below zero.
My friend offered me some cross-country skis if I wanted to go around his lake for some exercise. I accepted and anticipated a short, vigorous outing. His equipment appeared to be from the 1936 Winter Olympics. He gave me some ratty old boots and skis that were about an inch and a half wide. Expressing no worries, I strapped the skis on and headed outside.
My first discovery was that the snow was about 2 feet deep and very powdery. My next epiphany was that because of my excessive mass and density, I would sink 20 inches with every stride. Consequently, I looked like a bop-a-mole working through the thick snow en route to the lake.
After an exhausting trek, I hit a groomed path that led down the hill to the frozen water. I was soon hurtling down the slope completely out of control and trying desperately to slow down. I twisted hard sideways trying to do a hockey stop and immediately felt a sharp pain in my left knee. Decreasing the downward momentum only somewhat, I tried the time-proven snowplow method and promptly pulled my right groin muscle. Recognizing the futility of my efforts, I assumed an awkward and painful tuck position and made it to the base of the slope.
I tried skiing and immediately recognized that my injuries would preclude my ill-founded desire for exercise. Going back up the hill and through the deep snow to the comfort of the cabin was laboriously slow and fraught with discomfort. The following day’s wind chill factor was 40 below zero because we were in the heart of the polar vortex. Log fires and hot toddies were the order of the day and the healing process began.
Preparing to depart the next morning, I ventured outside to get some last photos and, like a good guest, took off my boots to walk around in stocking feet indoors. One last trip downstairs to get the final suitcase proved my undoing. Because of my awkward gait and pulled muscles, plus stocking feet, I slipped on the top steps of the 13 hard, wooden stairs and plummeted down, banging soundly on every riser and tread while conscious of every jarring impact.
It’s nice to know you have so many solicitous friends, but it is extremely embarrassing as they all huddle around you inquiring as to your condition. Thankfully nothing was broken and the airlines are very generous about letting you use their wheelchairs.
I think next time I’ll not be such a magnanimous giver to my wife’s whims.