Misty mornings. Waking up engulfed by a cloud. Trees slowly materialize out of whiteness. Half an hour into our rollerski, the fog has completely burned off in the Black River Valley. A perfect fall day.
300 lbs of crisp fall apples are stacked, crammed, into the back of a red minivan. They totter and shift precariously as we wind and rattle over dirt roads. Parking behind the dining hall to unload, we open the trunk carefully in case they fall. We carry them in waxed cardboard boxes, salvaged from the recycling, and the bottoms threaten to give out.
Running on a forest trail, through a tunnel of blurry color. Bright splotches of yellow and red leaves crunch underfoot. Later in the week, it rains and they compress into muddy mats.
I fall asleep to the rhythm of rain spilling off the roof and wailing gusts of wind surging against the windows. It is cozy inside, warm and dry under a down comforter. But it hasn’t let up by morning, and it is time to go out, to train, in the pouring rain, in ski boots still waterlogged from yesterday. And following practice I’ll have an immediate date with my rifle cleaning supplies. These are the hardest days to motivate.