A few months ago I splurged on a ski cabin to take my winter-loving boy to the slopes. His favorite season is winter (admittedly sometimes I look at him and wonder if he’s really my son, as my attitude tends to surviving more than enjoying the colder months). Southern Appalachia’s fickle weather makes it impossible to predict whether a day in February will be in the twenties or sixties.

Nevertheless, I took a gamble and made plans for a snowy long weekend. We’d hone his turns on the blue trails and in the evenings we’d ice skate or hit the tubing hill. Plenty of hot chocolate breaks would warm him up and then there’d be the fireplace and hot tub back at the cabin to unwind after a cold day outside.

The forecast didn’t corporate. Temperatures hovered around forty with a hundred percent rain. Some friends canceled, others decided to stay in the cabin and save skiing for better weather.

My son wouldn’t hear of not skiing. He’d been counting down the days until we headed to the slopes. I forced a smile and packed rain jackets and pants to wear over our thermals.

We purchased our lift tickets and patches of mud greeted us as we stepped into our skis. The lift lines non-existent, we shuffled right to the front and lowered the bar. We ascended into the fog as rain beaded up on our clothes.

The rain had washed away the snow and in breaks in the fog, we played I Spy , pointing out Mardi Gras beads, stray gloves and a tree tenacious enough to grow out of rock.

That day we had the mountain all to ourselves. My son pointed his skis toward the barest patches of earth or the longest stretches of ice and skied right over them, laughing. I imagined that he was triumphant, that despite the weather he was enjoying himself. His example of squaring up and skiing right over unpleasant conditions made me realize that he was improving his skiing by getting comfortable dealing with ice and mud.

I was reminded of a lesson I learned not skiing, but sailing. When the wind was too strong or nonexistent, when the wind blew in the exact opposite direction I wanted to go, I would repeat the age-old saying.

Sail the winds you have.

We could no more wait for better snow than we could have waited for the perfect amount of wind blowing in the right direction.

So when it’s too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, I’ll resolve to make the best of it.