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Here in Megève– French Alps haunt of Russian oligarchs and émigrés — the talk is all of Boris Nemtsov, the murdered Putin-opposition leader. It’s a scary time, all agree, back in Russia, not to mention the Ukraine. And don’t forget ISIS and the Mideast. Whither the world, I want to go elsewhere.

To escape the talk and the fear, you should go cross-country skiing, I tell myself.  Alone, all alone, it’s better that way. I won’t have to worry about anybody else, much less the worrisome world. It’s only about me, not only my mind but also what’s best for my body.

Especially for an unpracticed body like mine, most at home in pencil skirts and heels, X-country seems so much safer than downhill, yet more intensely calorie-burning than walking, or even jogging.

It’s also so, so, so sensual.  Let me try to describe what I mean:

First, I never wear gloves, only mittens.  That way my fingers stay warm cuddling one another.

As for my toes and feet, they’re not stiffly imprisoned as they would be with downhill bindings. Rather, the special X-country shoes are more like a sexy corset. First, you lace them; then over the tied laces, there’s a zipper that you pull ever so gently from the toes to the ankle. Finally, where the talus meets the tibia and fibula, a stiff strap is snapped. It’s as if the designer of these shoes – Madshus of Norway — has a foot fetish.

Once you hook your shoes to the skis – long and skinny (just like my favorite jeans) – and the skis then slip and slide across the snow, you become one with the terrain. Gliding, you never leave the earth, as you would when walking, one foot lifting after the other into the insubstantial air.

Should there be any doubt about your oneness with the natural landscape, the ski poles, attached to your mitten-clad palms, ground you like lightning rods.

Alone in the snow-draped woods, all is silent except labored breathing as your heart rate quickens.

Thirty minutes into your pilgrimage, you face a choice: turn back and return on the trail you’ve already traveled, or keep going in the expectation that the trail is a loop.  You keep going, for nature is not linear.

Leaving the forest behind, in the open meadows, you feel the stiff wind for the first time.  The chill cuts through your loosely fitted, “soft-shell” ski pants so sharply that your skin suddenly becomes aware of the merino wool tights that you’ve base-layered underneath.  The sensation is so odd, for normally you seldom feel or otherwise notice hose or tights (they so quickly become your body’s second skin).

But now it’s as if that second skin strangely belongs to the skin of another, the seductive yet cold, harsh hands of which massage and fondle your baby-soft inner thighs.

Full-circle, home again, a 60-minute woman, you look and feel gloriously spent, indeed ravished.  All eyes turn toward you as you enter the chalet; the end-of-the-world chatter is momentarily hushed, so your friends can turn to regard your telltale flushed checks and sleepy eyes as if from a clandestine tryst. Yes, you must confess, the winter woods and snowy fields have been your secret lover…and, oh, what a lover they’ve been!

Are you an ecosexual, too?