Skieologians: A word on wooden skis
Material things don’t really matter that much ... even if they’re skis
A wise person once told me, “You can never have too many skis.”
Lately, I’ve been joyfully strolling through Ryan Rodger’s 2021 tale of Scandinavian influence on Minnesota and Wisconsin’s nordic ski history, “Winter’s Children.” As he traces the history of the sport where I grew up and introduces iconic forefathers and other colorful characters, my fascination over anecdotal areas once thought to be inconsequential farm fields but now understood as the Gardens of Nordic Eden they truly are, has only increased. This interest has fueled my concurrent obsession with collecting more wooden skis, the fossilized treasures for us skinny-ski enthusiasts.
My twin brother, whose life resembles mine about as much as a pile of raisins mirrors a pair of silk pajamas, recently texted me a photo of an old pair of wooden skis a rural central-Minnesotan neighbor gifted him. Tangled between a few “ope’s” and “you-betcha’s” was a caps-locked reply from me: “GIVE THOSE TO ME, NOW!”
While his century-old farmhouse — a stroll back in time if there ever was one, just ask my worried parents — is the perfect location for these relics, a part of me (and by part I really mean every single coded aspect of my DNA) wants them in my house, where they can be positioned next to the other cedar and spruce artifacts I have and worshipped daily as a Sederskier sacrament.
After all, as long as we’re making Dave Berry-like aphorisms, my brother thinks skiing is about as good a use of time and money as tallying the number of blue cars exiting the Eisenhower Tunnel in any five-hour span — a duration which is ironically equal to the total investment he’s made participating in the sport throughout his life. He actually (and in Barry’s immortal words “I’m not making this up”) once asked me as I prepared to venture into the bitter cold darkness for a standard workout, “Why are you doing that?”
While you may be unsure who to side with at this point — maybe you even think Dan is the reasonable one here — the in-reality humorous and brotherly-love-filled text thread between us, wherein I’ve been tasked with researching the historical value of these mysteriously immaculate planks, has served a deeper purpose. Once again, I’m reminded of the importance of “stuff,” here on earth: zero importance.
One of the most valuable characteristics in my nearly eight years of marriage has been the constant relocation of our family to new houses, cities and even states. Christie and I have been forced to pack “everything we own” into a single, small moving truck numerous times. Our bank account has dictated the size of said truck, the space in the storage unit, and the square-footage of the new “home.” Three years ago, we went from living in a house we owned to renting a college dorm room.
This series of self-inflicted (my fault) scenarios has meant we’ve never purchased furniture for ourselves, and my drawers are filled with just a few pairs of baggy jeans circa 2008 which, thankfully, are back in style again. Contrast this with my Minnesota ancestors who often hold onto land and homes forever, becoming sentimentally attached to their property while showering “Minnesota-nice” upon their neighbors whom they’ve shared life’s ups and downs with. While I sincerely appreciate such fellowship, I am grateful to have been torn from many dwelling places before the fear of moving permanently took root.
No place or physical item is actually precious. Irreplaceable? Maybe, but never truthfully essential. One ought to be able to part ways with any ‘thing’ this world tempts us to believe is worthy of our adoration. Our souls may sting when pictures of loved ones are lost in a house fire, and our wallets wail when that new SUV gets dinged in a fender-bender. Those are meaningful losses.
I, too, have special cups, medals, books, journals — even a box of irreplaceable love notes detailing my relationship with Christie from the very beginning. If my editors feel space is an issue with my daily musings, you can imagine the depth of my weekly reporting on those innermost adolescent thoughts during five years of passionate courtship. Are they eternally essential? No way.
I don’t need another pair of wooden skis. If Dan keeps them, I’ll live. If he gives them to me, I’ll hang them up somewhere and show my daughter, Novi, how the sport I love began. More importantly, I’ll be sure to impress upon her the reality that really, those skis are also just firewood.
“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.” – 1 Corinthians