Carol and I spent the weekend before last skiing in Vermont. I should say I spent it skiing in Vermont; Carol had just undergone PRPT — platelet-rich plasma therapy — on both her left knee and right elbow. PRPT is the breakthrough non-invasive alternative to surgery, and it’s getting lots of positive press: less pain, no physical therapy needed, shorter recovery period. The only downside — at least for Carol — is that it didn’t work. But at least she got to stay back at the house, reading by the fire — the ultimate perfect, cozy day — while I had to go out skiing on my own.
Robby, who likes to make sweeping (and often ridiculous) statements, as you’ve no doubt noticed, claims that nobody actually enjoys skiing. He says everyone just does it because they’re supposed to like it. As is so often the case, there’s a germ of truth in Robby’s proclamation. If I look deep into my soul, however, I don’t think the reason I ski is because I’m supposed to like it, exactly. I think it’s more that I ski so I can enjoy apres-ski. On a gut level, I don’t feel justified diving into my chili-in-a-bread-bowl and downing my Long Trail Ale if I haven’t skied at least 2.5 hours. (Not sure where the 2.5 comes from; it just feels right.) Seriously, can you really brag about your day of awesome bumps and mind-boggling speed and epic face plants if you didn’t ski? At all?
So I put in my 2.5 hours of skiing, Carol luxuriated back at the house with her get-out-of-skiing-free pass . . . and Ricky? Ricky enjoyed some snowy fun.
“Snowy fun,” to explain, is a silly old Herman family term we coined back in the days when our boys were little and couldn’t wait for the ski day to be over (who could blame them with all the lessons we made them take? Maybe this is where Robby’s nobody-really-likes-skiing theory originates) so they could finally have some actual fun back at the house — playing snow football, flinging themselves off the deck railing into six-foot-high fluffy snow drifts, hurtling down the neighbor’s hill on a sled, a saucer, their behinds . . . To them, in those days, pretty much anything qualified as snowy fun — compared to skiing.
These days, Ricky absolutely loves snowy fun in Vermont, too. You know how I’ve told you repeatedly that Ricky is not the most avid of walkers back
home in CT? That I have to bribe him with treats to get him off his couch? That I need to drive him to a place where he’ll agree to walk? That I often have to literally drag him for several yards, while he digs in all four paws, before he’ll
actually start moving on his own steam? Not in Vermont! Up there in the snowy north country, he’s the opposite. He can’t wait to get out the door. Puts his nose to the ground, and he’s off. He actually pulls me. He’s a man on a mission. I’m the one who eventually calls a halt to the walk; he’d keep going forever.
And the frenzied sniffing! Whatever scent he’s picking up — deer? bear? moose? elephant? — it gets him absolutely nuts! He’ll dig his snout into the snow and start snarfing and harumphing. Deeper and deeper goes his head. His ears are covered. Then his neck. Still deeper. He doesn’t come up for air — he just keeps digging, snorting, inhaling. Before he hits
China, I panic: Could he suffocate down there? How would I explain that back in the house? So I give the leash a tug, and up comes the snowy, floppy ears and the busy, twitching nose.
And off my beagle marches, in pursuit of more snowy fun . . .