BLOG · SPORT

Winter Warm-up

The fittest women in the West, elite skiers, share their pre-winter full-body workout. Even if you live in the tropic, it’s your lift ticket to higher fitness.


The first day back on the slopes, the biggest air most of us get is the kind we suck into our lungs. Meanwhile, in Crested Butte, Colorado, local skiers float on air, turning through fresh patches of powder. What’s their secret? Two preseason conditioning classes: one for building strength, the other for endurance. Combined, they make an effective training routine that anyone can benefit from. Whether you summit mountains or sweat at sea level, this workout will help you go faster and harder in any activity (and burn around 450 calories an hour to boot). Plus, it will develop explosive power, flexibility and balance.
The winter warm-up was started by a couple of ex-ski racers who wanted to get into prime shape during the fall, when the rain and mud make the Rockies too slick for mountain biking. The classes caught on, even with nonskiers. (more…)

BLOG · Garden

The past at present

It occurred to me the other day that gardening is the only art form I can think of that works in four dimensions–that is, the usual three, plus time. Time shapes the garden and completes it; it also, in the end, destroys it. A gardener has to be aware of what the passage of time will mean to the developing garden. (Is the kolkwitzia going to swamp the magnolia? How long before the beech hedge matures?) Most of us, I suspect, would prefer not to think too much about the destruction part.

Maybe we shouldn’t despair. Given the proper degree of enthusiasm (and sufficient funds), even seriously neglected gardens can be resurrected. They need not necessarily vanish in a maze of brush and saplings, or be overplanted with shopping centers. In some cases–rare enough, I admit–they can throw a challenge in the teeth of time and show themselves in something like their original splendor of two or three hundred years before. (more…)

BLOG · Garden

Well-weathered wisdom

I’ve never lived in a place where people were so concerned about the weather as they are in England. This is probably the result of never knowing quite what to expect. In America, especially on the East Coast, predictions seem pretty dependable by comparison; after all, the weather systems have a whole continent to cross (during which time they can be examined en route) before they fall upon you. Mistakes occur, of course, but usually not big ones, and not all that often.

In England, on the other hand, we have to take what we often unexpectedly get. The Meteorological Office–always known simply as the Met Office–has begun offering five-day forecasts in a gingerly way, but in my experience they are fairly useless. Longer-range forecasts–that it will be an “iron” winter, for example–are hardly worth bothering about.

In the past, of course, the English lacked even the Met Office to tell them about visibility off Rockall or the likelihood of rain in Suffolk by dawn Wednesday. What they had instead was a vast and baroque system of folk knowledge about the weather, incorporated in axioms and sayings of splendid inconsistency. Americans will recognize some of them (more…)