Sunday, February 1, 2009

Doing Slope

I am not even sure if I knew what skiing was when I was four years old. We used to take cookie sheets from the kitchen to cruise down our backyard beginner's' run located in southern New York. I remember once struggling to stand up on the cookie sheet while sliding down. I consider this a legitimate tally of my first and only attempt at snowboarding, or more accurately labeled "snow-sheeting." A few years later we moved to Utah and my awareness of the sport of skiing increased dramatically. The main fact I quickly digested was that we couldn't afford it. What more did I need to know?

In high school, I finally mustered the financial guts to blow a good portion of my savings on a day of skiing at Sundance, the resort located 10 miles from my driveway. The larger portion of the day was spent ever so ungracefully planting my face into the snow. And while I was literally falling head over heels in deep snow, I was simultaneously falling in deep love with this skiing thing.

The money that I earned at my high school job at Burger King was tainted with so much dread and grease, that I couldn't bring myself to splurge on the alpine slopes again. I started cross-country skiing which was mountains more affordable (free, with borrowed skies...I'm forever grateful Melissa). I loved it and still love cross-country skiing when I want quiet introspective snow time or a steady workout. But it didn't quite give me the fix that I was jonesin for.

It wasn't until I was in college when I was able to purchase a student ski pass for $135 and some used skis and boots for $150 that I could really sink my teeth into the sport adequately enough to get my clumsy teeth out of the snow. I skied every free moment that I could spare, graciously accepted much needed advice from instructor friends, and only needed to be tobogganed down the mountain once.

Emmy first skied when she was 5. She had a few lessons at Red Mountain in Canada and took off without hesitation. Later that season I was able to spend a few unforgettable hours night-skiing with her. Snowflakes were drifting down and pausing on our coat sleeves long enough for us to identify the unique personality of each flake. It wasn't too cold, the moon was illuminating the skies, and Emmy was young enough that she still lacked the reservation that currently inhibits her full emotional disclosure. "This is so beautiful! I can't believe that there are so many people who don't know how beautiful this is. It is like magic." She had yet to start her speech therapy, so it was really like this, "Dis is so bootiful. I tan't believe dat deough are so many people who don't know how bootiful dis is."

It was so great to share that moment with her and have her recognize how fortunate she was to be there.

Ansel started skiing when he was 3. His first lesson would have been a huge waste of time and money if we didn't get such a kick out of watching the fruitless attempts of the tongue-pierced instructor to get Ansel to stop eating the snow and stand up. He just needed a few weeks to mature. The next time we went, we were prepared. Corey taught him, with a little help from the Lucky Bum Ski Harness Trainer and some tip connectors. I declare only a few things more adorable than a little kid learning to hedgehogs and mini-cheeses are among the few. I am proud of and somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the adult one-pieced suit beginners. But they are in no way, shape, or form close to being adorable.

Ansel and I went with our friends, Kathryn and Taylor, up to Mt. Spokane last Friday. We had another unforgettable adventure, despite one unfortunate chairlift maneuver. Ansel failed to disembark at the specified moment resulting in an abrupt fall when I had to pull him off before he rotated on his own back down the mountain. Luckily, it didn't take long for the excitement of the skiing to swallow the terror of the chairlift.

That night when Ansel was falling asleep, he yawned, "Mom, I had a good day."

"I had a good day too, Ansel. Thanks for coming with me" I whispered in return.

2 out of 3 of my kids love skiing and I believe that they have an awareness of this opportunity, not only to ski, but to spend quality time with a parent. I, too, have an acute sense of the nature of my good fortune in being able to spend this time with my children. I wish I could gather it, hoard it, beg for it, bottle it, seal it, and save it for those rainy teen-aged dazes when they won't want to have anything to do with me. On one of these days, I would rub the dust off a jar labeled, "quality time with my mother" and serve it to them for breakfast. It would be the sweetest thing we have ever tasted since we had the fresh stuff. Until that quickly approaching day, I will enjoy the fresh stuff while I can still get my hands on it.

And maybe I will send them outside with our cookie sheets. We have the potential for a Blue Diamond run in our back yard, with a few good jumps. They need to know what they have been missing....the "snow sheeting", that is.

Ansel and Taylor having fun in the Lodge


Kaerlig said...

That smile on Ansel's face in your last picture says it all.

I really like the line about bottling up quality time with mother...I'm scared about my kids not liking me later. I need to dig in and have some of my own fresh stuff.

melissa said...

I loved the memories you brought up. It is funny how x-skiing is all I need. I never got the bug to do the down hill.... heaven knows I tried. I am so happy that you are enjoying blistful time with your kids.