Friday, February 8, 2008

A Blizzard, A Mountain, and Me

I have returned—completely unscathed—from that exotic, exciting world known as skiing. For the uninitiated, skiing is a popular activity for which you get to dress interestingly. First, you don tight, every-bulge-revealing underwear, plus as many layers of fleece and down that you can pile on your body. Then you shove your feet and calves into heavy, bloodflow-restricting, stiff, uncomfortable, unfashionable boots, grab these things called poles (and I don’t mean the people) and clamp long skinny skis onto the boots. This ensures that you a) cannot manage anything closely resembling a human walk and b) will immediately fall over sideways, relying on the kindness of strangers or young children to right yourself.

Once properly equipped, you stagger and skid your way to the chair lift, a most enjoyable place where you get to humiliate yourself before spectators of all ages. You stand, legs shoulder-width apart, poles in one hand (to ensure that if you lose your balance, you will again fall sideways and require assistance), and wait for the chair to swing around and smack you in the back of your thighs, knocking you off your feet so your bum is planted precariously on the chair while it is still moving. Then, you get to ride up the side of a hugenormous mountain, clinging to the bars of this most dangly open-air bench, out of which you could tumble with the slightest puff of wind—or a decent sneeze.

If you’re me, you have the added enjoyment of riding up the chair lift alone. How did that happen to the girl who was a bit terrified at the prospect of riding up the lift at all? One moment, there we were, D. and I, in line together, side by side, waiting for the proper moment to advance up to take our places. An empty chair went by, and then it was our turn. I dutifully waddled to the correct waiting spot and was immediately thumped in the back of my thighs and whisked up, skis and boots over my head, desperately attempting to hang onto the chair while I settled my feet back down below my knees, suddenly realizing I was doing all of this completely alone. I turned around (without falling off! yay!) to see dear husband gracefully landing on the next chair.

There was no turning back. The lift does not run in reverse. Anxiety tried to set in; I pushed it away. Alrighty, then, you can do this, I thought. I whistled a happy tune, pretended I was comfortable, and looked everywhere but down. Instead, I gazed far off to the horizon—which in the whipping wind and blowing snow was oh, about 25 feet. Squinting through my cool new amber goggles, I focused on gentle white meringue slopes and the green tops of trees poking out of freshly fallen snow. Tops of trees? Dear jebus. . . save me from this day. I don't WANT to be on the tops of trees!

As I approached the end of the lift, I readied myself to disembark. Off I went, upright and on two skis. That went well! I thought, as I glided about ten feet—and fell down. D. was soon beside me, helped me up, and away down the hill we went. It was fun, it was scary, and skiing very slowly, I made it back to the lodge in one piece. And I even went up for a second run. And again I jumped onto the first chair that came along while D. waited for the next. Was he trying to tell me something?

Despite wind and heavy snow, two sore knees and shinsplints from dragging those monstrous boots around for hours, it was a successful day. While it’s not like I can’t wait to do it again, I am looking forward to getting better at skiing.

Honestly, I think the fear of being cold was my biggest roadblock. I am your witness: it is amazing how $175 worth of long underwear, wool socks, and fleece will warm a girl’s soul. And how a few hours on a mountain top will make it sing.


Anonymous said...

Woohoo! I was thinking about you this morning, hoping you had returned in one relieved. You are so brave, I would have stuck to toboganing at the bottom of the mountain :)

Mrs. G. said...

You articulated beautifully why I have only gone skiing twice. The skiing itself was OK, but the lift? The lift terrified me. Good work on that part. It required a level of faith that I could not muster.

My family and I went skiing the second weekend we moved from Tennessee to Oregon. Being southerners and, therefore, uninformed on the necessary equipment, we showed up on the slopes in sweatshirts and blue jeans. We looked like a bunch of hick derfwads...soaking wet and freezing!

Mary Alice said...

It's the fear of falling at a high rate of speed that is my greatest road block. Glad it all went well.

Queeny said...

I can't even imagine being stranded in all that snow. Frightening just to think about, actually. I'm a weakling.

Nora Bee said...

You described my experiences of skiing perfectly. So awkward, so complicated, but still kind of exhilarating. Glad you had a good time!

Jo said...

That was the best description I have ever read! It is so how I feel every time I get out in the snow. Freezing wearing SO many bulky things with no movement in your feet and falling off lifts and getting smacked by them and oddly oddly invigorated and wanting to get better at it!

Claire B. said...

Thanks everyone for your interest in my big ski bunny day! There were no disasters and I don't know what I was so scared about--it was just fine. So that big fear is over. I think Eleanor Roosevelt would be proud. "You must do the thing that scares you" I'm paraphrasing here. That thing.

Professor J said...

How wonderful for you! I am proud of you going up on that lift alone. I couldn't do it. I am a fearful and delicate little flower. I will simply live vicariously through you--you adventurous woman, you!