On April 10, 2024

Boring winter gives way to exciting spring


I found myself stopping every few minutes. Not to catch my breath or recalibrate my route, but simply to stop moving for a moment and let myself really take it all in. Too much all at once, when there hasn’t been enough at all. From one of the most boring winters that I can remember to one of the most exciting springs on record.

Five feet of snow since the Vernal Equinox and all of it majestically stunning, hence the stopping every few minutes. A total solar eclipse happening in Vermont at the same time that the skiing is simply all-time for April. An earthquake for our New Jersey friends that we felt all the way up here. Who knows what’s going to happen next week?

I noticed something different this time around. I wasn’t captivated by the completely filled in Julio or Low Rider, which are skiing fantastically well. I couldn’t stop looking at the trees surrounding me. In fact, I found myself having to bail several times, my skiing seemed jerky and awkward and for a bit I couldn’t figure it out. I refilled on water, had some snack and did a 5 minute reset meditation to try and refocus my mind to the task. My worst fear is that menopause will disrupt with my response times. I can hear my mind telling my body what to do, but it didn’t seem to be happening.

And then it hit me. Figuratively, not literally. This week could have been our final glimpse into a mochi*yuki world. That is the Japanese word for snow that sits deliciously on trees, not falling onto the ground but just resting there. In English, we use the term marshmallow world, where everything surrounding you feels safe and the fluffiness of the snow will hold you up no matter how ridiculously you fall. The kind of snow where you fall on purpose just to feel the snow cradle you in its depth. Like falling into water, but a gazillion times softer.

It wasn’t that my body wasn’t responding, it was that my brain was too busy looking at the damn trees and wasn’t sending out signals to ski. I wasn’t looking at the spaces between the trees, I was looking at the beauty of the trees themselves. The death knell of a tree skier. You have to pay attention, constantly searching for unique ways to ebb and flow. You must be in the zone, hearing and seeing nothing but the path you read before you.

By Merisa Sherman

I wasn’t doing that. And so I chose to comply with what my brain wanted to. I went skinning, taking a much slower uphill path through the woods, that allows my brain to stop and look at whatever trees it wants to. Not saying that I didn’t ski through the woods on the descent, but that my brain was willing to focus on the path after soaking in all the uphill views. It wanted to live in a Robert Frost poem, walking about in the snowy woods.

The Japanese government coined the term Shinrin Yoku, making contact with or taking in the atmosphere of the forest, in the 1980s. Wandering in the forest was found to promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than city environments. A conscious immersion into nature must be a part of our daily regimens, allowing whatever is good to enter our souls and reground us.

And so I walked. I went for four tours on Friday, making emails and phone calls in between. On Sunday, I met one of bestest ski sisters for a three hour tour where we literally stopped in our tracks several times, overcome by the beauty of a tree or the blue sky shining through the snowy canopy. We walked for hours, and as our bodies relaxed into the forest atmosphere, our conversations traveled deeper and deeper until all our worries seemed not to float away, but now something we had the energy to resolve. We topped out invigorated, with a new zest for life that filled our souls with joy and hope.

Trees have always been seen as the gateway to the spirit world and to magic. Wood and bark have been thought to provide balance and strength for generations, while the roots keep us grounded. In feng shui, the wood element brings a creative energy of motivation, personal growth, and renewal. In the Western World, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge talk center stage in the garden of Eden.

Trees connect us with a world beyond our own, while simultaneously centering us. The 4.5 million acres of forest are just one of the many reasons that I love Vermont life so very, very much — over 78% of our state is forest. So just a plea from me to you — as you are ripping through the trees, don’t forget to stop for a moment and let the forest surround you.

Merisa Sherman is a long time Killington resident, local Realtor®, KMS coach, town lister and member of the Development Review Board. She can be reached at femaleskibum@gmail.com.

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