Monday, February 28, 2011

Skiing the Oscars

Weather doesn’t mean much. And the months are merely conventions. Eighty mallards fly across the sky above our neighbor’s garage every night at sundown, again and again. I think he’s putting out corn, but I’ve never gone to look.

Perhaps it’s the corn that’s been drawing the deer, who wander desultorily across the yard at odd times of the day and night. Last Thursday they decided to spend the night—or a part of it, at any rate—hunkered down in the snow out there in the dark. They looked so content and sculptural and Buddha-like, sitting there silently in the snow with their heads erect, while we, inside the glass, were watching a bizarre French movie from another era called Diva, with gangsters and opera-singers and motor scooters and bootleg tapes.

Put the deer and the mallards together, and that’s far more wildlife than we saw last weekend in three days of Nordic skiing up in Itasca Country. I did spot a fisher by the side of the road just south of Big Fork, however. I backed up the car and we saw it again as it bounded off into the deep woods.

We skied the Sugar Hills (south of Grand Rapids) and the next morning we did a bit of the Suomi Hills north of town. Our morning ski was cut short when Hilary expressed concern that her cheeks were numb—it was -18 below at the time. One glance told the story. Her cheeks were bright red…except for a large triangle of white in the middle of one of them.

Yeah, we should probable head back.

At lunch we talked with a waitress in Big Fork about diamond willow. “People don’t realize, but it’s all over the place out here.” I told her about my grandpa McIlvenna, who used to stop the car and wander off into the woods looking for it, while his wife and daughter (my mom, who was just a little girl at the time) sat patiently in the car.

We eventually skied four different trails and didn’t see a soul. I guess everyone was over at Leech Lake watching the snowmobile drag-races out on the ice. Or the Stud Club Ice Racing finals out in Mille Lacs, which we passed on our way back to the Cities.

Had to get home to see the Academy Awards! It went in a flash. Anne Hathaway flashing her wide toothy smile, full of sincerity, and James Franco looking askance with his lips contorted into something between a sheepish smile and a supercilious grimace. He almost looked like he was trying to look like Billy Crystal (without the jokes) who, in turn, looked old as he came on to tell some funny stories about Bob Hope.

That was about the extent of the nostalgia. (Kirk Douglas no longer counts.)

There was never a dull moment. I would have given the Best Film to The Social Network, but The King’s Speech was flawless and moving. True Grit was good, too. (So was How to Train Your Dragon, for that matter.) Winter’s Bone. 127 Hours. They were all good. (The Kids Are Alright was a dud, but so it goes.)

The opening montage brought back memories of Billy Crystal’s intro pastiche of The English Patient, with David Letterman in a bi-plane.

Colin Firth was in that one, too. It's time he won one.

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