7November 2019

The Secret of Stoke

Our dog Russell hates it when I play the piano. Like, haaaaaaates it.

This is what happens seconds after the first notes are struck.

Two things to note:

(1) Description really doesn’t capture it. Click below. Sound on.

(2) Only one dog was annoyed in the making of this video.

So from May to October this year, when double knee surgery kept him indoors the majority of the time recuperating, I didn’t play at all.

Seemed like a real jerk move. Plus, I can barely hear myself over his howling.

But now he’s back in action, all healed up, better than ever – Russell 2.0. And now I can go back to playing, because now I can leave him outside, to keep his ruthless critiques to himself.

The first few sessions at the keyboard felt rusty and awkward, but because I had been denied my hobby for so long, it also felt wonderful. Wonderful to be back.

evening light on the purcells

Jeff and Rudi went out touring last week – the inaugural taste test trip.

The skiing is still thin (end of October, after all) and we’ll need another good dump before anyone could call it truly good skiing, but damn it sure made them happy.

Do you know this feeling?

First day out, feet complaining, dodging rocks in shallow sugar, but somehow it’s still the BEST EVER?

Because it’s just been so long. Our ability to appreciate it is dialed up to the most sensitive reading.

Purcell team member Claire solo paddled the entire 2000 km length of the Columbia River this summer. She was gone for three and a half months, pushing up against the first fall storms at the end, toughing out rapidly cooling nights in her tent on the river’s banks.

Back home now in Golden, she said she is overcome with one thought every night: my mattress is SO. FREAKING. SOFT.

The point is… it’s been a while. And it’s good to be back.

It’s the secret of stoke. Perspective + appreciation.

If it’s available when our joints are still stiff, our chops are out of tune or the conditions are marginal, then it’s available anytime.

The only work from this point forward is staying just as sensitive as that first day. For none of us to gradually take it for granted.

Russell looks just as stoked on day 30 of running ahead of us as he did the first time he could. Here’s to the first days back on snow bringing back all the feels, and diving back into that feeling over and over again, all winter long.


Beginnings are exciting, but all the good stuff happens further down the road. A story about a banjo and an aspiring skier. Read it next.




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