There are many reasons not to ski, and I’ve availed myself of most of them over the past two decades when asked why I gave up an activity I’d once loved. Cost was high on the list, followed by inconvenience, cold and risk to life and limb.
Last weekend, I shelved these concerns, along with questions like, “What if I have simply forgotten how?” and headed to Vermont. I was nervous but excited. Half my fantasies involved me carving up the slopes in clouds of powder, the other half sliding down an ice sheet on my backside, waving like a queen to spectators who stopped to gape.
Returning to a once-rewarding, now-abandoned activity is humbling, and, the older we get, increasingly rare. Who wants to chance looking silly? Who wants to willingly be bad at something?
I wasn’t bad at skiing. I wasn’t good, but within a handful of runs I had the hang of it again. What people had told me about “muscle memory” appeared to be accurate.
I’d forgotten how much fun it is to socialize while doing something active. You chat on the lift, then you get some alone time to think while you ski, and pick up the conversation again at the next meeting point. Socializing with breaks! And without phones! A way to “reclaim time as something other than a raw ingredient to be converted into productivity,” as Maggie Lange described a new book’s conception of hanging out in a recent Times story.
And let us not forget nature, as I nearly did, so focused was I on not falling. Once I’d regained my form, I could take in the frosty pines, the limited winter palate of sky and snow. I was a city-dwelling cliché, but that didn’t diminish the wonder.
The confidence I felt at rediscovering a skill was intoxicating. What else could I return to that I’d given up? Perhaps I should take up the clarinet again. Would my fingers naturally remember how to play “Eye of the Tiger”? Unlikely! But being a beginner has its own benefits.
It’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking we know ourselves and to get comfortable with that perceived self-knowledge. It keeps us safe, convinces us that we don’t require novelty, that we’re finished or nearly-finished works. It’s not true, of course, but sometimes we need reminders. What have you given up that you might return to? What long-dormant skill might you jostle awake? Tell me.
🎬 “Creed III” (Friday): Michael B. Jordan, who starred as Adonis “Donnie” Creed in two previous films that smartly extended the Rocky franchise, makes his directing debut here. Jonathan Majors (last seen … last weekend in the new “Ant-Man”) plays his friend turned rival. They punch each other.
📚 “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation” (Tuesday, in paperback): Imani Perry won the National Book Award in nonfiction last fall for this tour through the South to find where history meets present day. As our reviewer Tayari Jones wrote, “Any attempt to classify this ambitious work, which straddles genre, kicks down the fourth wall, dances with poetry, engages with literary criticism and flits from journalism to memoir to academic writing — well, that’s a fool’s errand.”
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Sheet-Pan Lemony Chicken With Brussels Sprouts
Staying in and roasting some chicken is a good antidote to any wintry chaos, whether it’s raging outside your windows or just swirling around in your head. Yasmin Fahr’s sheet-pan lemony chicken with brussels sprouts makes a complete and easy meal, with golden, crisp chicken thighs surrounded by tender brussels sprouts. Two things really set this recipe apart from other, similar ones: the herbed compound butter that seasons both vegetables and bird, and the thin rounds of lemon scattered in the pan, adding a tangy sweetness. Serve it with some bread to mop up the pan juices, and stay warm and safe until the sun returns.
A selection of New York Times recipes is available to all readers. Please consider a Cooking subscription for full access.
Hard soda: The carbonation and sugar worry health experts.
Keep warm: Heat pumps now outsell gas furnaces. Yes, they can handle freezing temperatures.
Struggling teenager?: Learning to manage painful emotions is essential for development.
Long gloves: They’re a part of a contemporary accessory wardrobe.
Buenos Aires: Dining out feels celebratory in this capital city.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
Warm winter throws
As much of the country endures storms and cold weather, this is a good weekend for a cozy winter respite. Wirecutter’s experts rounded up everything you need for the perfect couch nap, and at the top of the list is a warm throw. A great throw should be in a style and material you love, whatever your budget. Over five years, Wirecutter’s testers found Garnet Hill’s Plush-Loft throw to be the warmest, combining a cotton quilt on one side and thick, luxurious plush on the other. They also have recommendations for soft family favorites and a wool option. — Jackie Reeve
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 2 Indiana vs. No. 6 Iowa, women’s college basketball: When Iowa is on, the team can be hard to keep up with. Iowa has the highest-scoring offense in the country, led by one of the highest-scoring players, Caitlin Clark. Earlier this month, the Hawkeyes blew out Penn State by 44 and Rutgers by 54. Between those games, though, Indiana beat them, relying on the best defense in the Big Ten. Indiana has lost only once this season. 2 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, ESPN
Related: Three Hoosiers also compete on their home countries’ national teams. Title IX has turned American colleges into incubators for female athletes worldwide.