I woke up slowly, remembering....ski day! Son Two, who was to be my ski buddy for the day, awoke even more slowly. Seems like a growing body paired with exhaustion from staying out too late the night before with his brother overruled even skiing up at his favorite resort.
Seemed like it took forever to pack everything up, and make our way up there. I attempted to purchase some new tires for my 4x4, but couldn't find a price that made me happy and didn't want to go into debt, so I took my chances with the old tires, even though the worrier in me was having thoughts of sliding right off the mountainside...not pleasant.
By the time we were loaded up, the sun was out, and it was a cold 23 degrees. It was going to be a gorgeous day.
So nice to be able to talk with Jordan on the way up...he's a captive audience for an hour and a half up there, and then an hour and a half back down. Who gets three hours of one-on-one with a sixteen year old, these days? That makes the cost of the ski pass for us this year one of the best investments, relationship-wise. You can't put a price tag on that; it's invaluable.
When we arrived, there was NO WHERE to park. Every parking space within shuffling distance (because that's what you do in ski boots, after all) was filled. We settled on a lot high above our normal parking area. While Jordan skiied off, I was dubious. You had to ski down a steep slope to get to the lodge below; there was no other way from this spot. That would mean that to get back to it, I would have to go on a more advanced hill, just to ski back down to it, and have access to my car. So, I started up the car and went back down t the main parking area, where I'm used to. I don't take risks anymore...I'm beyond that. Hey, things break!
In the main parking area, there were several possible spaces that I wouldn't call....'official'...spaces. Just inadvertant, accidental spaces just BARELY large enough for a vehicle...if no one wants to open any doors, that is. I eyed several of them while the incoming cars in the line behind me waited patiently, or not so patiently...I finally found one that just might work...although everyone else was passing it by in their SUV's, not daring to risk door-ding damage. My rig is older, so maybe I wasn't so picky nowadays.
I wedged my way in, while other would-be parkers watched, a bit admiringly, I thought, but I could have been just imagining that. I am proud of my parking skills, it has to be said. I scare the kids all the time, who just know I am going to bump into the car next to me, but then never do. "How do you DO that?" they ask. The truth is that I've been driving this vehicle for several years, and I guess I'm just familiar with its boundaries and size. That's all. No magic.
Jordan called on the cell and wanted his face mask, so he found me in the new location. When he shuffled up to me, he was grinning and shaking his head, surveying my parking job. "There is NO WHERE to park!" I said, trying to defend myself. I set to the task of writing on a sticky note, "So Sorry! Parking is crazy! If you need me to move my car so that you can access your vehicle a bit better, please call........" and I left them my cell number. Jordan thought that was funny, too.
"I just can't stand parking like such a JERK," I said, as we shuffled away.
While Jordan disappeared off the backside of the mountain, headed for the double-black-diamond runs, no doubt, I made my way to the more intermediate runs. The resort was packed, festive Christmas Vacation types everywhere. It gave me a warm, happy feeling. I also recalled that part of the sport for me was the people watching....it was a feast for the eyes...and people are so very, very funny. Everyone was having a great time...not a grouchy person in sight. The folks I had to share a ski lift with were ultimately entertaining. First there was the man that had the coolest Tennessee drawl. He was visiting a 'friend' that he pointed to in the chairlift ahead of us...an attractive blonde. I felt sorry for him that he couldn't ride with her, but she was with a couple of children and the seating just hadn't worked out. That happens a lot at a crowded ski resort....you have strange seat-mates. After that I switched runs and rode on another lift, winding up with a strawberry blonde-haired man...orange, really... (with matching eyebrows) and his ten year old daughter who did not have orange hair. It was brown.
It was a rather long ride, lots of starts and stops. (Every time we got stopped, you could hear an audible sigh from the riders). The man told me that he used to come up to this resort while he was in high school, almost daily during the season. He talked about how good skiing had been for family relations, while growing up. Originally, his parents had taken them up, so that they could learn how to ski. They bought the kids passes, and said, "Good luck! You can figure this out!"...and, the kids did. He mused that it was really interesting that the parents themselves did not ski at all, but were determined to have that for their kids. But then, lo! In their fourties, they got the itching to learn for themselves, took lessons, and began to enjoy it with their children. He said they always stuck to the trails and never did anything extreme, but they were doing it, and that was wonderful for the kids to be able to share that with them. He shook his head in wonderment, telling me all about it, even this many years later. He was laughing to himself when he said, " I don't know what came over them; all of a sudden they wanted to ski."
What a memory for that man. And now his daughter was skiing. I asked her who beats who, going down the hill, and she just smiled.... so I had my answer. Of course she makes it to the bottom before her dad does; just like my kids plaster me in a race, each and every time. I don't even compete with them, anymore. What's the point?
On another run, where I had the lift to myself, I was contemplating the forest of pine trees we were in, surrounded by white snow. By chance, right about that time, the lift stopped; delayed again. The air was still and I could hear the people behind me talking. I heard a child's voice say, "I spy something.....GREEN!" I had to laugh, being in the woods as we were. 'Yeah, good luck with THAT one, Dad!' I thought. If he were smart, when it was his turn, he'd say, "I spy something ....WHITE!"
But the funniest part of the day, by far, were the French Fry kids. A little pack of skiiers, probably around three years old, on the average, being instructed by a ski coach. There were about a dozen of them. They zoomed past me like I was walking (always a humbling experience), that is, until the one bringing up the rear totally wiped out.
"STOP! STOP! STOP!" He yelled, fully expecting everyone in the group to halt for him. They didn't. And the other little boy that he'd been skiing with, actually turned around and smiled a great big smile right back at him. The more the kid yelled 'STOP', the more his friend skiied faster, away from the struggling student. His was not a mean smile....it was more....gleeful. He was gleefully skiing away.
On the next run, I caught up with our little class. The two boys were now both upright and continued to hang at the back of the line. The boy who had crashed was griping.
"You were supposed to WAIT for me, you... French Fry!" he yelled.
"YOU'RE a French Fry!" said the still-smiling other kid.
"Oh YEAH?" said the Falling Boy, "Well you're a.....a.....you're a French Fry BUTTON HEAD!"
For a moment I wondered if I'd heard something much more crude, but he'd said 'button-head', all right, because he repeated it several more times. Possibly 'button-head' was as much as he dared say...for all I knew, that other kid could've been his brother...and brothers 'tell'. If so, I couldn't help but admire the clever twist by simply adding an 'on' to the intended word. Very clever, indeed.....
His friend had had enough and called him a 'French- Fry- Button- Head', right back. Then he began to sing about it, quite unexpectedly. I have to admit that I slowed down, just to listen to the exchange...
"French fry, french fry, french fry.....La la la.....French fries are good to eat....La la la....Keep your french fries UP!"
---I had no idea what this meant. Maybe the ski instructor had been calling their skis 'french fries'. Maybe the kid was hungry. Maybe he preferred french fries that were standing upright in the container they came in, as opposed to those mooshie ones that you find at the bottom.... Maybe their parents were biased against the French...who knows! But it was really, really funny.
I skiied the slope where Sis and I would always stop at sunset, overlooking the valley and would make a wish. I skiied down a trail that made me feel deliriously happy...I must've been thinking about very positive things in years past, while going around that particular hill. Funny how it all came back to me, that contented feeling, again and again yesterday, whenever I went on that trail. At one strange point, I could've sworn I smelled cleaning solution; the kind I had used last year for my cleaning business. Now THAT was a weird thing. I hadn't used that stuff for months, and I could smell it in my nostrils, just as plainly as if I had been wearing it on my person. Whoever says that sights and sounds can't take you back are just plain wrong. They can.
But I was back on My Mountain, and....gleeful. Yes, gleeful. I could've smiled (and probably did) just as brightly as that pesky little boy that left his friend lying flat on that trail.
Welcome, ski season!