Today, Tuesday, is a pretty typical day at work. I started a new job last week, and Iím still getting used to the culture and work of the department. I finish the first draft of a comparative note on a specific characteristic of the personal income tax systems of eight OECD countries. Canada is not like any of them. I leave work around 6:30 and trudge home, admiring the half-centimeter of fresh snow thatís fallen on the bare concrete and still-unfrozen canal. Itís mid-January.
On the way home, I start to plan my training day. Monday was a forced rest day due to a painful flare-up of plantar fasciitis. Wednesday will likely be as well Ė my aunt is flying in to visit my parents, and Iím due there for dinner. Friday will likely also be, as Iím driving to Montreal that night to get halfway to Foret Montmorency, where Iíll train this weekend to get on some good snow. Just like that, Iím down to four days of training. Too many weeks like that so far this season.
I think about the gym, but decide against my better judgment to check out the Park. I confirm with Megan that the Park has indeed been groomed, albeit only 5 cm of snow has fallen on the roads. I get home, eat a large snack, and drive up there. When I get to P10, Iím amazed to find 3-4 centimeters of hard-pack snow, nicely rolled, with 2-3 centimeters of fresh-fallen powder. Once again, Lafleur has raised the bar.
Itís a dark night, no moon. Immediately, I notice the stars. They outshine the bright lights of Camp Fortune tonight. I get up to Fortune Lake and stop, gaping, at the stars in the sky. Iíve never seen so many in the Park. My eyes are drawn immediately to Orionís shining golden belt Ė the three brightest stars in the sky tonight. Iíve never seen Orion like this before Ė his long legs in full running stride, his bow drawn tight, every one of his stars bright. He stands over me, my protector tonight. I ski further, and canít stop looking at him Ė heís keeping pace with me as I ski towards the T, bow in hand, pointed in front of us. Once at the T, I stop and wonder again. Hazy cloud cover has come over, dimming all the other starts; Orion is the only thing lighting the sky. He waits for me to decide where to go, and falls behind me now as I head up legs-only to Huron Lookout. I stop there when the snow gets so thin that my skis hit the road. He catches up to me and dances over the Ottawa River and the distant city lights. I turn the other way and start my workout towards Blackís Lake Ė some zone 3 with a sprint at the top and bottom of every hill. Iím working hard, trying to recover efficiently after every sprint, and heís right there with me.
My workout done, I stop at Fortune Lake to say goodbye. I take one last look at his features tonight, and something catches my eye. There are stars running away from his feet in either direction. Could it be? It is, for sure. Orionís not running tonight. Heís skiing Ė happy as I am to have snow. For tonight, Orion is my guide, my protector Ė and my training partner.