Sanity During a Pandemic

It is a spectacular winter day. Sunshine and fresh snow. The groomer has taken this route before me, and he has laid down beautiful corduroy bordered by crisp track. Perfection. Best place on earth – right here, right now. How many times over the previous 30 plus years have I thought these same thoughts? To be conservative, I am going to say five times per year. So that means one hundred and fifty times I have felt blessed to feel this snow below my skis. One hundred and fifty times I have been thrilled to ski these trails. One hundred and fifty times I have felt my body happily tired. One hundred and fifty times my mind has found space to contemplate. One hundred and fifty times, at least, that I have skied myself sane.

And then came this year. March 2020. The COVID 19 pandemic. It was still winter for us. There was sunshine and great snow. The groomers maintained the ribbon of corduroy. We came and skied and social distanced ourselves. It was wonderful to be out there. It was wonderful to forget all the other stuff happening. It was wonderful to see the world was exactly the same as it had been a year prior. But all too soon, a word “covid, pandemic, isolation, or virus” would flash through my consciousness and remind me that the world was not the same as last year – nor would it ever be the same again.

Historians refer to events which transform life as a “watershed moment”. A watershed moment is a dividing point, from which things will never be the same. It is considered momentous, though a watershed moment may or may not be particularly dramatic and is often recognized in hindsight. I recall watching the drama of 9-11 unfold and telling our kids that they were experiencing a watershed moment. And here is another one. Bigger. Longer. Wider. Worser.

After that previous watershed, I could not wait to get back on snow to “ski myself sane” in what felt like an insane world. And while life does not feel “insane” to me this time, it is undoubtedly irrevocably changed from the life we knew only four months ago. Changed how? No one knows. 

When ski season returns, 6 months from now, what will life look like? One thing we do know, the natural world is responding well to the holiday it is getting from us: no tourism, less pollution, and fewer greenhouse gases. One thing that I can count on is that the backdrop to my sanity ski will be there, pretty much unchanged. (That is if the club can maintain the grooming.) But life? That may be a different story.

I know life goes on. Covid has already obscured one milestone – I moved to the official ranks of a senior citizen without any hoopla. (Personally, I was grateful for that piece.) And now I find that I will enjoy another milestone, becoming a grandmother for the first time, either during or post-covid. What will that mean for the lovely hoopla of visiting and traveling and holding the new, wee creature? What life will await this grandchild? And its parents? And the country? What will the post-covid world look like? When do we get there?

You can see where this brings me. Back to the trails. Back to boards on snow. Back to skiing myself sane. Back to hoping for an early winter.