OLDIES SONGS FROM the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are my favorite songs. They are my kind of music, the music I grew up with.

One of the favorite words to put in a song title back then was “love.” Sure, there are many songs still today that use love in the title, but the music is not the same, nor is the word used in its simplest, purest form. Last weekend, as I began a winter of work I love, I thought of several songs from the rock ’n’ roll years that had the word love in the title. 

There was “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles, just one of their many No. 1 hits. Who could argue with the title or the lyrics of that song? Then, there was “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. I couldn’t have agreed more with the words in the title as I thought of what I was doing at the moment. Led Zeppelin did “Whole Lotta Love” and that, too, was what I was thinking I had a whole lotta at the time. 

Finally, there was “Can’t Buy Me Love” by the Beatles, but on that title I had reason to disagree. For what I was doing last weekend, it had been easy to buy love, sort of. Let me explain. There was a lot of preliminary work that went on before I could buy my new love.

For several months previous, I had been working with some good people who have a bunch more money than I have and when my work was finished, I realized that they were indeed very, very good people.

You see, at Razorback Ridges cross-country ski trails, a trail system I originally laid out, and groomed with borrowed snowmobiles and old bed springs, a system which has been operated for 37 years as a community project by the Sayner-Star Lake Lions Club, a new groomer was needed to replace an aging groomer the club had purchased nearly 20 years ago.

The old ASV diesel unit served our club long and faithfully with mostly only regular routine maintenance until last winter. Then, it went down, not once, but twice. As a result, I found myself for half the winter going “back to the future,” sitting on the back of a 1986 Ski-Doo Alpine which also had served us long and well before being put into retirement.

Unfortunately, the old Alpine steers like a mule and sometimes acts like a mule when it comes to purposely defying its operator while burying itself off the trail. Or it could be that an aging operator was not quite as agile handling it as he was 30 years ago. Either way, with the blessing of the rest of my fellow Lions Club members, it was decided there must be a new groomer for the old human groomer to use this winter.

Enter in the solicitation efforts of the old groomer, the human one, of good friends who also happen to be good friends of winter silent sports activities.

With the sale of the old ASV and unbelievably generous grants totaling $25,000 from donors with foundations who, at this time, wish to remain unnamed, I was able to have the entire cost of a new John Deere XUV 835M Gator and a new Yellowstone Ginzu drag fully funded. Though I can’t name the donors at this point, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for their generosity, and how grateful the thousands of skiers and snowshoers who use Razorback Ridges each winter will be with the grooming we will be able to do with our new groomer.

I took the machine out for its maiden voyage Saturday and immediately, I felt love, love, love, as the Beatles lyrics go, for the Lions Club new toy. Probably only other trail groomers, those who groom ski trails and those who groom snowmobile trails, can appreciate how I could fall in love so quickly with the rubber-tracked Gator.

Turning radius, power, ease of handling, a great heater and everything else you could hope for in a machine is in the Gator.

So, as Bobby Womack sang in 1968 “I’m in love, yes I am, I’m in love, yes I am.” And as Humphrey Bogart said in the movie “Casablanca,” “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” so, too, do I think I am in love and that I have begun a beautiful friendship with a John Deere Gator.

Seriously, being able to do a top-quality job of grooming at Razorback Ridges has always been a matter of great importance to me. See, I love cross-country skiing, so much so that I allowed myself to get talked into coming out of racing retirement to ski the American Birkebeiner in February, challenging that sometimes torturous 55K ski race trail with which I’ve had a love/hate relationship ever since skiing my first one in 1984.

At 69, I’m not sure if the approximately 34-mile long Birkie trail will win or if I will come out on top, but with a new groomer and plenty of time to ski thanks to my retirement from the work world in September, I’m going to be at the start line in Cable believing I can.

The other thing I love about being able to provide consistently great grooming at Razorback Ridges is the satisfaction and pleasure I get from watching people come in from skiing with big smiles on their faces, thoroughly pleased with having great trails and great grooming to enhance their silent sports outing.

Perhaps more than anyone else who skis Razorback, I feel good about having a trail system of such great quality essentially out my back door on which I can ski for the sheer joy of being alive and out in a beautiful winter snowscape any day I wish.

There will be much of such skiing for me this winter, especially if I want to reach my goal of having 350 kilometers of skiing under my belt before the Birkie. I know that if I want to finish my 19th Birkie, it will take a lot of training to do it and knowing I now have the machine with which to produce top-quality conditions, I can’t wait to get started.

One more thing. Contrary to the lyrics of the Beatles, I can buy me love. It’s green and yellow and a joy to drive. Let the snow fall.