Snapshots: winter weekends

Snapshots: winter weekends

In other parts of the country, spring is on the way: Trees are budding, crocuses nudge up through the earth, and people are shedding winter layers for lighter coats.

In Vermont, it's snowing.

Our winters here are long. They come on early and stretch into April. But we have a saying that we share with other northern dwellers: There's no bad weather, only bad clothing. So we bundle up, stow our snacks, and head outside. Loving Vermont means loving winter.

When it snows, you'll find us at Rikert Nordic Center. This is one of the gems in our Addison County home, never more alive than on Saturday mornings when skiers of all stripes converge at the mountaintop.

Kids strap on skis for the first time at Rikert, and learn to shuffle through the snow; give them a few years, and they're sprinting on skinny skis like it's second nature. We catch up with friends as we kick skis along fresh snow. We bundle the babies into pulks, where they snooze under a thick blanket while we explore the woods.

Some days we come to get our heart rate up, hustling through a rabbit's warren of trails — up wooded slopes, down again, along a race course that has hosted the best collegiate skiers in the country. And other days, when the snow is deep and the days leisurely, we'll follow ungroomed paths to poet Robert Frost's mountain cabin, packing along snacks in Bee's Wrap for trailside fuel that keeps the cold at bay.

By mid-day, the ski center fills up again as skiers trickle back in, rosy-cheeked and ready for sustenance. There's a pot of soup in the corner, and a fire going in the wood stove — the perfect place to dry out gloves over lunch.

And once we've filled our bellies, we head back out to fill our lungs with more fresh air. When there's snow on the ground, we find we don't grumble as much about the long winters in our northern home. We'll take it as long as it lasts.