Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wearing White

 While lying snuggly under the covers this morning, I deftly slipped my arm out and, like in the old days when reaching for a smoke, found and turned on the remote for the TV. Within a moment, my solitude was shattered by the voice of an annoyingly cheerful weather actor on the Today Show. He bantered about how the country was basking in unseasonably warm, beautiful weather, with the exception of the unfortunate Northwest which was still in the throes of relentless Winter. He spoke of the heavy rains, winds, and snow as if they were a validation of punishmnent of those who didn't believe in the inherent superiority of living on the Beltway or New York. I had no one to hear my objections to his bias. Here was someone who must have forgotten the beauty of watching snow coat the beach nor flakes falling softly on pine trees. Perhaps neither he nor his audience would appreciate the energy of breathing cool moist air, the drumming sound of torrents of rain nor the seductive rub of freshets of wind that contribute to making life here exquisite. For some dumb reason the caprice of weather has been divided into categories of good and bad with warm and dry as trump cards over wet and cold. I reflected further on what a glorious season "the bad weather" had been for me. Mt Bachelor Ski Resort has been blasted with cold, fluffy, voluminous powder, conditions which most skiers and snowboarders under the age of thirty refer to as "epic."

 My love for the snow began when I a child in Chicago when my sister and I were given a wooden sled which we used for careening down a slope at the "tot lot." My joy from that time lives on today when, on many a morning, I can be found on a chairlift freezing my butt off, then braving wind and poor visibility to carve my way on fresh untracked snow down the slopes in order to join friends at the bottom to share eagerly exhilarating tales of success. However the transition from sled to skis was not that easy.

 I started skiing at age 46 and remember how my children bullied me into giving into my fear of crashing. Like so many people imagine themselves, I was convinced that I would be an embarrrassing failure who, within a short time, would see friends signing clever greetings on my cast. My learning curve was slow and painful. I fell so often I was actually becoming comfortable with self-loathing. Within moments, I would find myself hopelessly out of control and then suddenly down and covered in snow sprawled out, with skis and poles scattered about. Often I would lie there on the white carpet before dusting off and picture myself as an incongruous twig in some cosmic game of pickup sticks. In spite of my predictable lack of coordination, my son especially continued to encourage me to keep pushing myself and urged me to stop being a wuss when I looked over a steep edge at the run and began to whine about an impending catastrophe.

 Fortunately I have advanced, but still fall and suffer from the jitters and hurt pride. Although the fact is not particularly relevant, I have always been anxiety-prone. The source of this affliction may be a result of inheriting physical and mental instability genes from both of my parents. Neither of them would have ever ventured beyond a lodge, let alone shown any interest in the snow other than commenting on the danger of driving in such crappy weather. They could have never believed that I now quantify my life by the number of days I go up to the mountain, how many runs I may have taken, and whether I rode up on the first chairs.

 Then again, as I sit here in front of my laptop, extolling the white and wonderful, I am suddenly beset with fantasies of lying on a deckchair in some tropical clime, looking at palm trees and listening to soft gentle breezes. Even a pina colada might beat hot-buttered rum right now. Perhaps my passion for the cold has started to melt. Is it too late for me to take up water skiing? I know you all would wish me well. Doesn't the the expression go something like "Break a Leg"! 

 The above photos are from good weather days. I generally avoid bringing a camera when I ski for fear I will plant the darn thing and myself in a snowbank. The first picture was taken by my son of me on a bluebird day near the Northwest Chairlift before we dropped off the wall of a "black diamond" run. The second photo shows an easy groomed "blue" run. It appears flat in the foreground but the topography suddenly steepens in the background. The last picture shows the 9000-foot summit of the Mt. Bachelor. There is a lift that runs to the top and, with a slight traverse, people ski down to the spot at mid-mountain from where this shot was taken at 7300 feet or continue on to the base at 6300 feet.


  1. Great post for the day and fun to read about your overcoming the "scary things" and being able to enjoy so much! Keep it up!! And enjoy the remainder of your weekend as well! Colds go away more quickly if you ignore them -- they like attention.


  2. I'm sorry it took me so long to post a comment, but I've been a little preoccupied. But I knew what I wanted to say the first time I read this post in my inbox last night. I remembered a snow trip with the youth group 50 years ago...can it really be that long? That's the part that strains credibility. There were about 20-30 of us on a chartered bus, but I don't even remember where we went. It might have been Mount Baldy or somewhere in the San Bernardino Mountains, just northeast of where I am now. Wrightwood, maybe?

    I just remember there was a lot of snow, which was the whole point of the trip. And I remember a toboggan ride down a slope that was steeper than it should have been--by my standards anyway. There were maybe four or five of us on that sled, and you were at the front steering. At least that's what you were supposed to be doing. The memory of that day is never far from me. It's a kind of anchor--one of the things I hang onto when things become difficult and confusing as they are now.

  3. Hi Lee, Haven't seen you around for awhile or maybe it has been me that hasn't been around. Great shots. My sister and brother skied/ski a lot but never my cup of tea. They just couldn't get me off a horse long enough I suppose. MB