When the snow starts to fly, I get that little tingle of excitement about winter. In November, lulled by the magic of autumn, my memory of the prior winter (which lasted well into May) has faded. It’s my psyche’s adaptive strategy so that I can continue living in the place that I love. Somehow, the terror of watching my friends frolic in beautiful springtime all over the world while I am still pulling on my snow boots and shoveling my steps again and again (and again) just disappears, leaving me with a romantic postcard vision of twinkling snow falling softly on pine boughs, wood fires roaring while cozied up with the best book I’ve ever read, Old-Fashioned in hand. Cue the eye roll. Because, yeah, winter is lovely when you’re watching it from inside. I even enjoy a crisp stroll through the snow, cheeks rosy and ears numb… for about 5-10 minutes. The one exception to being outside is skiing.
My mom grew up in Milwaukee. Because of this, she was undaunted by all types of winter weather. And she was far more athletic than I, so winter meant skiing. Back in the ’70s, boots were made of 3-inch thick unbendable plastic (come to think of it, they still are). There were no wagons to carry your skis from your car to the hill and our rule was that we had to carry our own skis. Now, as a parent, I admire my mom’s commitment to making us lug all of our gear while whining the entire time, hitting each other with our skis as we tried to expertly stack them on our shoulders. Happily, all of the trauma of the inconvenience of ski gear faded quickly once we got on that chairlift. Frequently, we’d ski with my mom’s sisters and my cousins as well.
The chairlift was the place of singing songs, telling jokes and lots of laughter. Because I was scared of heights, I would usually ride with my mom. Sometimes I’d feel brave and let my mom ride with her sisters. Inevitably, the chair would stop abruptly and I could hear my mom and aunts singing Valderi Valdera to comfort me. One of my cousins, Jonny, was an expert skier. He also had all of Eddie Murphy’s comedy albums memorized and could make me laugh just by looking at me. And actually, he still does.
So those memories of a childhood spent on the slopes stir a happy nostalgia and an excitement about skiing when I see those first flakes start to fall. Given what I’ve said about winter, you won’t be surprised by my confession: I am a fair weather skier. It has taken me years of skiing to allow myself to admit this. Growing up in Denver, it was the one athletic activity I could brag about. You never came in off the hill because of snow. Now I’ve relaxed many of the rules that governed my early adulthood. I still don’t come off of the hill because of snow, but now it’s because I have a weather app on my phone and don’t drive up to ski unless I see bluebird skies in the forecast. Oh, and I’ve added a major pleasure to my ski days. Après.
So, my friends, let’s check our weather apps and find a great bluebird day. I’ll drive!