Cross-Country Skating

Living in the upper Midwest, I have long enjoyed cross-country skiing, both on groomed trails and through back country fields and forests. While I have fantasized about taking a long skating trip down a frozen river, that dream remains a fantasy as the weather rarely freezes a river smooth enough to skate long distance, without also being covered by snow.

Earlier this week, my son Josh came home from school, and since we both love skating, we laced up our skates to venture out on Goose Lake, where we have a vacation home in Central Wisconsin. We brought our hockey sticks and a puck with us, as I thought we would skate around the lake and pass the puck back and forth. But, due to last summer’s record rainfall, the lake is much higher than normal and the wetlands are flooded. Now that they are frozen, this allowed us to explore the frozen wetlands in ways that are normally impossible.

While I would have been satisfied with simply finding open patches of ice in the wetlands, Josh had other ideas. He really wanted to explore every nook and cranny of the wetlands, including areas where we really could not skate, but walked and climbed with our skates on, leading me to coin the term, “cross-country skating.”

Initially, Josh stuck with my idea of skating in the smooth patches of ice in the flooded wetlands.

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But then, he got more curious about all that nature had to offer, including the beaver hutches scattered around the lake.

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Our adventure truly turned into cross-country skating when Josh suggested that we explore the beaver dam. As you can see, this dam is high enough to create a significant drop off between the wetlands on top of the dam and the rest of Goose Lake. This did not bother Josh, as he simply climbed over the dam with his skates on, urging me to follow him. I cautioned him to beware of the open water created by the flowing water through the dam, and fortunately, he avoided what could have been a cold, wet mishap.

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One of the most unique features of Goose Lake is that approximately 50-60 years ago, in a monument to stupidity, someone thought he would dredge out the beaver dam to drain those upper wetlands and create more usable land. But the natural environment prevailed and this crane has been stuck in the mud ever since.

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As you can see, there was some pretty nice ice on the other side of the beaver dam, but that did not satisfy Josh, as he was now determined to circumnavigate the lake even when the patches of ice were smaller. He even convinced me to cross our gravel road with our skates on so we could continue our adventure.

After 2 1/2 hours of cross-country skating, I was worn out. I needed to skate freely, so I told Josh I was heading back to our vacation home and skated freely on open ice as the sun began its afternoon descent.

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Now that Josh is a young adult who has not lived full time at home for 3 1/2 years, my parenting has necessarily evolved. Frankly, there is very little, if anything, that I can simply tell Josh to do or refrain from doing. Sure, I offer my advice, and sometimes he seeks it out. But whether he takes it is completely up to him.

It is with great pride and joy that I watch him develop into a young man who is already making a difference in the world and whom I expect will continue to do great things. Equally important, I now realize that it is important for me to follow his lead as he has things to teach and show me. I look forward to more adventures with Josh in the lead, not knowing what he may teach and show me, because after all, life’s gift is what we do not know yet, and since I believe in life long learning, why not let our children teach and show us things we have yet to learn and see?

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.

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