This morning we are heading up to Massachusetts for our first skiing of the season. I can hardly contain myself as I imagine where I will be in just a few short hours. I learned to ski at the age of 17, out west on Apache Tribal land on the Mogollon rim in Northern Arizona. I got bit by the skiing bug hard. Ever since then, it is my very favorite thing about winter- packing up the gear and heading to the mountains for some outdoor exercise, fresh air and adventure.
Strapping on the skis for the first time of the winter is always over-the-top exciting to me. As I duck-walk sideways up the hill to join the lift line, my heart begins to race and the smile on my face is huge. The beautiful white peaks, the whir of the ski lift, the energy of the other skiiers, the cold wind on my face; all come together and give me such a spiritual boost. Even thinking about it this morning, while sitting at my kitchen counter eating oatmeal and typing this blog, I can feel my level of endorphins banging on my brain.
When we had our brood of three, skiing was the last adult activity my husband and I could enjoy while leaving them with grandma for the day or overnight. I know plenty of people strap skis on their three-year-olds; but that was not something we were prepared to do for several reasons. The number one reason was the cost- one day of skiing, with lift tickets, rentals, food and hotel room, could approach five hundred dollars. We just didn’t have it. And we knew that as soon as we got the kids started, they would get bit by the bug too and love it as much as we do. Cost prohibitive to say the least. But the second reason was that it was the last adult activity we could enjoy sans kiddies- and every couple with kids should have something just for them. So we told the kids that we would take them when they were a bit older.
Our first foray onto the slopes with the kids did not go so well. We stayed on the lower slopes to help them get their ski-legs and then put them right on the lift. Our philosophy was “sink or swim”. That worked for two of the three, but one of the girls just absolutely refused to listen to anything we said. When she lay down on the mountain for the hundredth time having a hissy fit, I told her I would come back for her in the Spring when the snow melted. Thank goodness one of the friends that was with us was a ski instructor who, in ten minutes, had her racing down the mountain like she was born to it. I know for a fact that he did not have a magic wand, nor did he teach her anything that we hadn’t tried, but for some reason she was able to learn from him what she wouldn’t or couldn’t learn from us. That wasn’t the only time I saw that kids don’t like to listen to their parents…
I also taught my older brother how to ski. Same philosophy too. We stayed on the bunny slopes until he could stand up, and then onto the lift. He fell off the lift at the top of the mountain, got up, slid a few feet, fell on his back, got up, slid, fell…and this went on for quite a while as I skied next to him, coaching and encouraging him. After about an hour of this, he became frustrated and began to verbally abuse me. Big mistake. I wished him luck and skied off down the mountain. I didn’t see him again for hours and when I did, he had a big smile on his face and was on his fourth run. He thanked me and told me leaving him alone on his back on the side of the mountain was the best thing I could have done. Ha. Guess I was born to teach.
We have been on slopes all over the country and in Canada. The east coast of the United States has lots of ski mountains from Maryland on up to Maine. Literally hundreds. And they are great little mountains for day trips or a couple of days. Vermont and New Hampshire offer some pretty good resorts. We also love Mont Tremblant near Montreal, a wonderful ski village with some nice slopes to enjoy. But no ski resort on the east coast that I have been to compares to skiing out west. Thirteen thousand foot peaks; long gorgeous runs; short lift lines and terrific little mountain towns….now that is what I call skiing. One day I hope to ski the Alps or head south in August to Chile or Argentina for some southern exposure.
For now, though, I am sitting here waiting for hubby to get done with his Saturday morning work load so we can pack up our gear in the truck and head north to the Berkshires. I am ready- let’s hit the slopes!