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When It Comes to Recreation, Don’t Let Winter Win


People like to blab about nature like she’s super magically awesome, but nature is as rude as an unwelcome house guest. Winter can show up on your doorstep unannounced, stay too long, then leave puddles in the house you hope are just water. Nature brings winter without considering your love of summer: that your calves look svelte in flip-flops, that barbecued burgers taste best, or that you were enjoying a summer of rock climbing, swimming and archery.

Nature’s driver’s license name is Debbie Downer. Nature is like your cheapskate roommate who waits ‘till you aren’t looking before flipping the thermostat down to forty-nine degrees.

But! Who says nature always bats last? When it comes to recreation, do your own thing! Don’t do the winter sports. Refuse to go skiing – frostbite’s bad for complexions. Kick off your snowshoes – they make you walk awkwardly, like Frankenstein’s monster. And how is ice fishing a sport? Is pulling a cold beer out of an ice chest a sport, too? In Boulder County, it’s getting easier to ignore winter. The outdoors are steadily moving indoors.

Take rock climbing. “We have a lot of clients who don’t ski,” says Andrew Zaslove, the front desk manager at The Spot bouldering gym in Boulder, a business that, no doubt, prays for snow as hard as a kid who doesn’t want to go to school. Andrew says the busiest time for the gym, by far, is in winter. “Snow will fill our doors very quickly,”

Take a look yourself. The day after the Front Range’s first big snowfall recently, when miserable travelers were stranded at airports and truckers nearly frostbit their fingers chaining their tires, The Spot was a sunspot. Men wore prAna shorts and women Lululemon tanks, and a few hipsters wore warm knit caps – not because it was cold, but because they wanted to continue their all-season commitment to looking like idiots. The Spot even painted the walls blue and white, like a sunny bright day.

Or take archery. If you just slip over to Jax Outdoor Gear in Lafayette, the very helpful Zac Sheppard will set you up on the archery range. Sheppard says the range is swinging in winter. Even though it’s technically outdoors, it’s warmed by heat lamps. Sheppard says he’s had birthday parties out there when it was eight degrees out. There, you can grip a Samick recurve bow, fletch your arrow into the groove, release the arrow and — if you’re anything like me — cut the crap out of yourself because you let the bowstring slap against your forearm.

No more downtime for summer sports!.Humankind has arrived at a position once held by the Greek god Chloris, whose lips breathed spring roses and who banished Boreas, the god of the cold north wind and of winter. The ability to be indifferent to nature is why humans evolved opposable thumbs. Nature is our bitch. We can ignore her and kick sand in her eyes.

Now. The article is almost over. This is the part where the writer is supposed to subtly undermine the argument he has heretofore flippantly elucidated, and draw the reader’s attention to some anecdotes and studies which might lead the reader to an ancient and accepted moral lesson, namely, that an insistence on acting the same and playing the same sports no matter the calendar inevitably detaches a person from the established order of the world, with negative physiological, psychological and ecological consequences. He is supposed to point out that a reader might not want to live entirely in summer, or pretend to live in summer, because suicides peak in summer and skin cancer starts there. Or perhaps point out that there is a whole subsection of psychology, Attention Restoration Theory, which holds that students and professionals are able to focus and learn better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature, and that removing themselves from nature entirely puts people at risk of developing ADHD. Or perhaps point out that deep thinkers worry that a whole generation of Americans, who, on average, spend an estimated ten minutes a day out in nature, will forget to care for the natural world. The writer might perhaps quote Stephen Jay Gould saying, “We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well – for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”

This writer won’t do that. He’s going rock climbing indoors at the Spot, and screw all that eco-babble. Have you seen how cold it is outside?

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