Vermont Winter And Me

Here I am posting an article that I wrote for our eWeekly.

Colors. So many colors! Wherever I looked, I saw the most vibrant of colors. Fall colors, I was told, would be beautiful. But what I saw was much more than beautiful. It was divine. Which magic palette can capture that vibrancy and recreate that divinity? I guess, only a divine palette can.

Those were the feelings that surged through me as soon as I set foot in Vermont at the end of September 2009. With in a few weeks the fall colors began to give way to different shades of gray of bare branches and hills. If it felt cold from day one and it only began to get worse. It is a huge departure from sunny Hyderabad (India) weather. Here, I felt elated and burst with joy whenever I saw the sun out. It was always a rare and short-lived joy.

As the days went on, I could sense myself feeling low. Really, depressingly, low. But, I could not figure out why. The first two months were tough. I hardly got out in fear of the cold temperatures. For a person who, back home, was always out on his bike feeling the air in his scanty hair, it was tough staying indoors. There was hardly any physical activity.

Then, I chanced upon the LIFE program in our e-Weekly and got in touch with Rob Levasseur, who offered to take me on the trails around National Life. The first day I went out with him, wrapped in my heavy winter coat, I came back panting and sweating like a pig. Oddly, it felt great!

I was surprised by the number of people who were outdoors. They were either running, walking or snowshoeing in the afternoons in that cold weather. They were having some serious fun whatever might be the weather. They were the real Vermonters who knew, not only how to survive, but also to have fun in the wicked Vermont winter.

I observed that, unlike me, most of them did not wear heavy coats. It was all about layering. Multiple thin layers which do not obstruct motion, wicked the sweat away, trapped air and kept you warm were their secret. It was a revelation. I once read a quote, “When in Rome, be a Roman,” so I decided to be a Vermonter while I am in Vermont.

I bought some layers to keep me warm, snowshoes for hiking around in the beautiful trails surrounding National Life. I was active again and the depressing feelings were history thanks to National Life and the LIFE program.

I also built a bike for myself and slowly began riding it on those rare occasions when the roads are not too slippery with snow. In January, in the middle of the Vermont winter, I completed a 100 kilometer ride towards Randolph. The route was Montpelier-Northfield- Randolph-Roxbury-Northfield-Montpelier. It was a super fun ride on the divinely scenic and hilly Vermont roads. Getting back on the bike felt like home and heaven at the same time.

I have started running outdoors as well, in temperatures that previously required nothing less than comforter for me to survive. I am now training for Vermont City Marathon in May. It will be my first marathon.

I feel alive again and feel like the Vermont winter and Vermonters have embraced me and made me their own. I thank all the Vermonters who keep inspiring me and show me how to live in Vermont!

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