Free Falling

January 20, 2000

Ok, so there was a ski team meet, and middle child had no ride.

Last week when I picked her up at work I walked out on the snow and decided, "Well, maybe this won't be so bad after all. "

Granted, I have been spoiled big time by skiing the Rockies the last several years.

Big time

But today I decided to take off work early and pick her up from school and head to the slopes. Right after we got in the car she said to me, too bad you didn't bring your skis. I said nothing and kept heading down the road. Some time later I informed her we had a "house stop" to make, and she wanted to know why. I told her I would only take 10 minutes and would find all my ski clothes.

I ran in the door, and headed for all the right closets. I had been preparing the clothing list in my head, and had the house floor plan all laid out in the mad dash to change from suit and tie, to wool and down.

Knee braces, long underwear, turtleneck, wool sweater, Patagonia fleece pants covered by polartech jump suit. Hey look, It's cold. I don't mind winter activities, I just don't want to be cold.

I hate being cold - so I dress warm.

Besides, 20 minutes later, when we hit the slopes, the temperature was all of 15 degrees, and by the time we got home at 8:00 tonight, it had fallen to a balmy 4 degrees (F) ( that's about -20 Celsius).

At these temperatures, the snow sparkles, and the chill invigorates. Ok, so it will freeze your toes off if you are not dressed for it, maybe invigorate is not the right word. But prepared, I love it.

One of the things I appreciated at first was the chair lift. The slats in the back of the chair were cold but the silent ride above the skiers has a magic all of its own. The chairlift has its own unique hum - a ride with a constant slight vibration.
Snow-covered pines drift under my feet and the occasional skier bites the dust in a cloud of powder.

I skied for a while and then went to watch the meet. She did ok, and I only stayed to watch one run, because without moving, the cold began to filter through all those layers of clothes.

It's been two years, and I quickly got my "legs" back. Soon I was racing down to the bottom of the steepest run, pulling out at the last second in a sliding turn to the right, spraying snow everywhere. I just LOVE that feeling at the bottom of the hill as I pull out of a fast turn.

But there is one other feeling that keeps me going back to the hill again and again, the feeling of free falling. Granted, on this hill it is brief, for the steepest pitch is only about 40 feet in length before it merges into the slope. But, I got my money's worth tonight.

With the sun setting to the right, and the moon rising to the left, I exited at the top of the run, lowered my goggles and poled my way down a short shallow incline. I gained as much speed as I could and launched off the top of the little wall. It may have only lasted for a second, but sometimes you don't really need a whole lot - over the top, falling down the slope until my skis met the snow, and it was time to tuck and run.

They say that a rat will kill itself given the chance to have a hit of seratonin again and again. It will keep going back again and again skipping food and water, all for the little surge. I wondered about that rat today, and wished at times that the lift had moved a bit faster.

"Dad, I'm Cold."

"Come on L, can't I do just one more run down the wall?"

At least she has another meet tomorrow

And guess what, she needs another ride.