Thoughts from a Vermont diner…and other weekend reminiscences

photo-113We spent the long weekend in Vermont skiing. Or, rather, the rest of my family skied — even the 2-year-old for a bit! — and I puttered around. While I like the idea of doing something outdoors in the snow, enjoying the beauty of the mountains, I also don’t like going fast down hills. I don’t like it on my bike either. Since going fast down hills appears to be the major selling point of downhill skiing, I decided to take a pass this year.

My kids are doing great, though. My 6-year-old now looks like a real skier. He did 1.5 days of ski camp, and then half a day skiing with my husband. He needs help on the chair lift, but can go down the green trails just fine. He and my husband even skied back to our condo — kind of a cool accomplishment. The 4-year-old is likewise picking it up, though in typical 4-year-old fashion, he just wants to zoom straight down the hill without turning or anything. Even the 2-year-old did 2 half days of daycare/ski lessons. The instructor said she had a huge smile on her face the whole time, and was “very brave.” I can see that.

Because the 2-year-old did a few hours of camp each day, I had some time on my own. on Saturday, I taped a podcast with Daniel Gold’s GTD Virtual Study Group. It was a fun panel with Craig Jarrow (Time Management Ninja), Hal Elrod (Miracle Morning) and Mike Vardy (Productivityist). We talked about whether it was an advantage to get up early. As the writer of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, I think I was supposed to be arguing in the affirmative, but the truth is I don’t get up that early. Elrod is up at 3:30 a.m. (!). Craig is up by 4:30, Daniel around 5-ish. I do nothing of the sort, at least on purpose. As my kids grow up, and no longer pop up around 5 a.m., I am rediscovering that I can do a lot of creative work from 9 p.m. to midnight. I did a lot of novel editing then. Mike Vardy likewise does his creative work at night. The key is that you need a life that accommodates that. Mine is starting to again. Today I got up around 7:30 a.m. I am starting to set an alarm at 7 a.m., and I think midnight- 7 a.m. is a sleep schedule that will work for now.

Interesting point: when my 2-year-old goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., she sleeps later in the morning than if she goes to bed at 7:30 p.m. There’s my anecdote against the “sleep begets sleep” mantra.

(I’ll post a link to the podcast when I get it).

On Sunday morning, I spent my solo time hanging out in Wally’s diner. In ski towns, most people hit the mountain in the morning, so you get a different scene for breakfast than you might other places. Wally’s was cozy and warm. The circle-shaped windows over the booths revealed a snowy scene outside, but inside all was pancakes and coffee. As I tweeted, I like diner sausage more in theory than practice, but the maple syrup was as good as it sounded. There was this giant contraption that made orange juice — like something out of Willy Wonka — with the oranges coming in a tube over the bar, then into the machine where they got squeezed into a pulpy beverage. That was fun to watch, but my favorite thing to watch was the people: the friendly waitress calling everyone “honey.” The woman dancing with her baby to juke box music. Every morning (I took my family back the next day), a handful of gruff and buff gentlemen sat at the bar drinking beer. This seemed a little strange at first, but as I listened and saw the waitress talking to them with great familiarity, I realized they were likely lift mechanics. They work the night shift repairing and checking the machinery before the lift opens at 9 a.m. So they’d managed to find a restaurant in town that would serve them beer at breakfast time — quitting time for them. And so they were there many mornings.  

A final observation: The mountains are utterly beautiful in the snow. We drove home through the Green Mountain Forest, seeing mile after mile of white houses and red barns. You can build a world around snow. I loved that the businesses all had grates in front of their doors for people to wipe off their boots — a much more efficient installation in a place where it snows so much than a welcome mat.

Photo: making footprints in the snow

8 thoughts on “Thoughts from a Vermont diner…and other weekend reminiscences

  1. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are on my list of places I’d like to visit soon-ish. I grew up in PA but somehow never made it to any of these states.

    Your weekend sounds great. I actually have nightmares about careening out of control down hills (have had them since high school, though not recently, thankfully). I also never was a fan of downhill skiing though I’d love to try cross-country some time.

  2. I adore skiing – even though (or perhaps because) I’m scared going fast downhill. This year I finally ventured off-trail and down a black run. I didn’t start until my mid-20s (now mid 30s) but my husband has skied since he was 4 and his parents still live in a ski town so it’s a relatively cheap activity for us while living in New Zealand. However, every couple of years we aim to go to Japan and our joint 40th birthday present is (hopefully) going to be skiing in North America.. We both love being in the snow in the mountains. As you say – it is just so beautiful. And from our family point of view, it’s something we can all do together that is active (my parents in law are in their mid-60s and still skiing, my MIL with lots of enthusiasm for skiing with her grand kids)

    Also, we don’t see evidence of sleep begets sleep in our house either. Just relatively low sleep needs and a preference for staying up late & sleeping in. our 4 year old had her 5 & 7 year old cousins in grumpy, lack of sleep tears by the end of the holidays while she was still barrelling around cheerfully. It actually reassured me to see how wrecked they were because it confirmed that she really doesn’t need as much sleep as other kids!

  3. Sounds like a good weekend for all, Laura! Your two year old amazes me! So do the boys!

    On my “bucket list,” or as you might say, 100 dreams, is to go to Pokagon State Park in northeast Indiana, stay in their historic lodge, and enjoy the winter scene. No one seems to want to go with me but that’s OK. It will be my own “retreat.”

  4. Ha, I’m with you on the skiing. I tried it twice and kept falling over to the side whenever I started going to fast for my liking (which was obviously not very fast at all, on the beginner slopes). Husband has never done it and never wants to, so a skiing vacation is not in our future… I’m amazed that your kids are so good so young though! Mine (2 and 4) still won’t go outside in the snow for more than a few minutes since they can’t keep their gloves and hats on and then cry that they are too cold…
    Snow can be so lovely in “nature”. In the city….not so much.

  5. Ha. Your vermont excursions seem to be coinciding with mine. My first time to vermont was a trip to Killington last year over the holidays. last weekend we went to mt. Snow. It’s a bit more family friendly than Killington. Closer too. I also do not have a need for speed. I am thinking I am too old for skiing in harsh conditions. I skied one day. Finished off the day with a yoga class. Took a guided snowshoe tour of the mountain the morning before left. The natural beauty is really stunning there.

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