I feel the pull of the nearby cross-country ski trail. So with skis in hand we’re off, an instinct developed over nearly a hundred other days this winter. Tonight it is my son Jackson and me. In the evening light the short walk from our house to the trail builds our exhilaration. I’m just like Jack, 10 years old again, every time; hundreds, thousands of days on my skis, who knows, I’ve lost count.
We are an American family living in Tromsø, Norway. We will not be here forever, but just for now.
On the trail, the wind stirs—a gentle reminder that even at the end of April, winter still reigns here. We skate-ski up and up, in silence, through white birch forests, beneath a sky of storm and light. Happy snowflakes dance around us in a mini-squall, while the nearby mountains glow softly. We speed downhill towards one of our favorite spots, and we laugh—one child and one older, but the same. I’m astounded how effortless skiing is for him, rise and drop; soon I’ll be far behind.
Jack launches over a few jumps, I watch, my mind wanders. What will this place be 40 years hence when he is my age? Will his son experience what we feel today? The arctic is changing. I’m a scientist and sometimes I feel that I know too much. At this moment I just worry. Guess I’m a dad, most of all.
The ski home brings me back. Down again through the forest, both of us with outstretched arms like wings, ready to fly. Jack ahead, much faster, in a tuck, perfect turns, telemark stop. We are home at 10pm and it is still light. The arctic has cast its spell and we have changed. With memories, and dreams, and hope, for happy snow.