Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mountain High

A vacation was had. I hadn't intended to abandon the blog but there it was. Me in the Catskills with a small broken-screened computer and no plug to charge it when it died the first night of our four-night stay at Winter Clove, a.k.a. Family Camp.

I brought gold stars with me but left them back in the room in lieu of lip balm and my Blackberry, all I could feasibly carry with me on the slopes. I should have tried harder. Oh, the efforts being expended, the trying I overheard on lines for the lifts.

My favorite, the comment that could very well capture skiing as a sport, was the one out of the worn-out, ragged mouth of a mother headed out into the driving snow from the lodge at Windham Mountain:

"I HAVE SPENT $400 TODAY AND I AM NOT HAVING ANY FUN!" she screamed, probably to someone in particular but, really, to everyone, to anyone who would listen. I laughed uproariously to everyone, to no one in particular. Oh, how I wished I had stars on me. The great expense of skiing is, in fact, staggering and, sometimes, if maximum fun is not being had, it feels like a terrible, terrible waste.

Second favorite gold star worthy moment was the mother in line with her two small children, the younger a boy of about 6 on a snowboard, whining about something incessantly. She turned to him sweetly.

"Do you want to go to babysitting? Draw a little? Do a little Play-Do?" she asked lightly, airily, making it sound like a genuinely kind offer. A mumble emerged from the mini-boarder, obviously a refusal of the alternative. Jekyll turned to Hyde, sweet to narrowed-eye anger: "Then KNOCK IT OFF!" she yelled. I laughed and she looked up at me and smiled, shrugged as if to say, "sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do." Hilarious.

The third, another skiing-weary mother, would have received her star for her addition to my own family drama. I had, as usual, disappointed by progeny, I can't even remember how, forgetting to charge my iPod, failing to hold their glove or some other disgraceful shameful negligence on my part. Oscar chastised me loudly. "You're fired Mommy!" he said.

A mother trying desperately to put on the many layers of ski-wear on her own child looked up longingly. "Can I be fired too?" she asked.

I laughed. "Sure," I said. "Let's see how they fare on their own...They have to get there eventually, right? We can't quit, but if they fire us..."

She just sighed. No such luck. Ah well. Another day, another dollar, lots of them, spent trying to have fun...

I joke, but skiing with the kids was awesome, despite its trying moments. Both my boys deserve big gold stars for their bravery, their (mostly) smooth sailing down mountains on thin, slippery sticks. Oscar, who never left the pen last year learning simply to stand on skis without falling, asked me before we left on the trip this year, "Is skiing scary Mommy?"

I paused. Hell yes! I would have said if I hadn't stopped and thought about it. But I knew that was the wrong answer. His expectant eyes told me I needed to come up with something better if I hoped to see him skiing any time soon, or ever.

"It's FUN!" I said with a big smile, no mention of the sport's many possibilities for death and dismemberment, the trees one could crash into or the cliffs one could slide over...

He got a big smile on his face then and many times afterward as he skiied alongside me, fearless, having fun. "This is awesome!" he said. "Skiing is my favorite sport!"

Eli too loved hitting the trails, the names of which, all W's, he alone could remember. He wanted me to teach him but I am in no position, myself unwise in the ways of keeping my skiis together to turn. After a day of me telling him unhelpfully to keep his skiis together but not knowing quite how to tell him how to do it, he finally acquiesced to lessons and improved greatly, doing more "french fries" than "pizza wedges," in the hands of more able instructors.

Skiing, like all sports, is a metaphor for how hard one is willing to try, a metaphor for getting out of something what you put in. Sore and tired from trying, though, it is good to be home, to rest up for future mountain endeavors.

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