Right before Christmas my wife, two daughters and I spent a night in a yurt on the edge of the Boundary Waters. The idea was to get away before the onslaught of the holidays, ski a bit, plod  in snowshoes and hang around.

woodiesAs it turns out, my younger girl, Anna, was born to ski. This came as a surprise to her, since previously she mostly had contempt for shuffling along with boards on her feet. But there she was, out ahead of me on a trail hemmed in by snow-covered pines. We hadn’t gotten more than a half mile or so when I noticed that my skis seemed ponderously slow.

I’m not much of a skier. Even so, I didn’t seem to be gliding at all. I popped a ski off to take a look. The problem was that the plastic ski bottom — the slippery part — had delaminated from the body of the ski.

Why? Well, I don’t really know, though it may be that after 30 years this kind of thing just happens. Or it may be that storing 30-year old skis in a garage over a few summers takes a toll. Anyway, I ended up walking back to the yurt with my skis over my shoulder.

At the age of 60, I’m not thinking I need high performance skis. I’m more of a shuffler, don’t have any ambition to tear along skate skiing, and, given my penny-pinching propensities, don’t care to spend hundreds of dollars solving a minor problem. So when I saw a pair of old woodies at the thrift store for a price in the low two figures, I knew I was looking at my new skis.

I loved my woodies in the 70s, right up until I snapped one in half on a downhill run that was several steps beyond my abilities. I wound up with the composite skis that recently failed. They were sort of soulless, but I didn’t spend much time dwelling on it.

Woodies insist that you have a relationship with them. These planks needed a good scraping to remove the old wax. That done, I sanded down the surface, then stopped by a farm store for a bottle of pine tar. A few nights ago I was deep in my basement laboratory, brushing on pine tar, heating it, rubbing it into the wood, removing the excess, heating again, more rubbing. Fire and brimstone: perfect! Then waxing, rubbing with cork, more waxing, more cork. After that I popped the more-or-less modern bindings off my ruined skis and screwed them on to the woodies.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is just my kind of deal. I have become exactly that kind of puttering old crock. I want to fool with my possessions. No muss, no fuss? What’s the point?

One of these days I’ll have to go skiing.


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