Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Ancients

Eric Errson
Jacque Lindskoog
Muffy Ritz
Konrad Hallenbarter
Pal Sjultad
Orjan Bloomquist

Manfred Nagl
Lynne Cecil
Todd Boonstra

It's a yearly pilgrimage. Cable, Wisconsin. Mountain Biking. Fall Colors. Beer and potluck (after all, this IS the Midwest).

It's the last hurrah, the curtain call to the season. We gather, ride hard, and breathe-in the crisp smells of the waning fall days. We tell tales. We cuss. We challenge ourselves physically before the gray season of rest comes to impose upon our psyche.

We'd gotten unseasonably early snow in the Twin Cities earlier that week...a few flurries, some white dust on the grass tips, but it was gone. Early reports had temps at our destination, Cable, WI, listed near 40 for the weekend. And as the days grew closer, 50 was mentioned. Of course, any snow Cable had gotten would be gone with those temps.

We drove-in Friday night and about 10 miles out there was actual accumulation on the ground.

Snow.

In mid-October.

Spirits plummeted, but gradually resolve gained ground. We'd thrown every possible warmie in the bags as a justincase: balaclava, windstopper, wool socks, winter tights, booties, glove heaters...we were going to have fun dammit.

On Saturday, we stayed away from singletrack and hit the Birkie Trail instead. It's a rolling, hilly, spruce-lined highway through the woods, not the most exciting for off-roading, but great for cross-country skiing: the yearly proving ground of the American Birkebeiner Ski Race. We took it easy and took-in the woods. Without having to navigate slippery-leafed singletrack, we were free to look

to breathe

to meditate

and with snow on the ground, to imagine.

There's an energy to that spot -- all 50 k of it -- and it seeps upward with the will and excitement of Birkie winners and challengers from as far back as 1973. I’ve felt it before...it’s greatness and courage and agony and celebration, barely discernable in October, but with the snow it swelled ever so slightly

Eric Errson
Jacque Lindskoog
Muffy Ritz
Konrad Hallenbarter
Pal Sjultad
Orjan Bloomquist

Manfred Nagl
Lynne Cecil
Todd Boonstra

We were there to bike, intending to pay our last respects to autumn, but the Ancients were whispering. The ending of autumn isn’t the grey season. It’s the start of preparations.

- Baggie already thinking skiing

8 comments:

Rhea said...

A really beautiful post, especially for someone (like me) who dreads the coming winter.

C. P. said...

Great post, TOB. Change (of seasons) is good.

Jeff in Chico said...

Uh, it's still in the mid 80's out here. Hopefully it will turn to autumn soon and we can enjoy some of the same sights.

PAB said...

I always wish for early snow here. XC skiing by Halloween would be so great, but Iwould settle for Thnksgiving.

We'll see.

BTW, I met Muffy Ritz once at a ski clinic here, and a couple of those other names seem familiar....

Ptelea said...

What a wonderful tradition! And each season certainly has its reason for celebration. Some of them require more gear, that's all!!

the old bag said...

rhea -- thanks, and thanks for stopping!

CP -- danke...good, but not quite ready this year for some reason.

jeff -- jealous! Our fall got cold quickly -- colors lasted about 2 days.

pab -- I love skiing, but for me it can wait until Thanksgiving!

Ptelea -- yes, I have to keep that in mind...I'm just not quite mentally ready for snow. We've got a few days of 45 today and tomorrow!

Shawn Kielty said...

"If man's imagination were not so weak, so easily tired, if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon forever... fantasies of fhe supernal. He would learn to perceive in water, leaves, and silence more than sufficient of the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him for the loss of the ancient dreams."
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Could I possibly say anythng more.

the old bag said...

Hey Shawn...just caught this comment today. What a wonderful quote!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.