I have lived in the mountainous West all of my life, many years in southern Idaho and the longer part in Utah, home of the "Greatest Snow on Earth." In junior high, living in Idaho, I got frostbite on the fingers of one hand waiting for a schoolbus that never came (as cold as it had been that day, it probably froze to the road!). I forget now why it didn't ever come, but I do remember the incredible pain that I endured for weeks after those poor frozen fingers warmed up again. Honestly, I think I'd rather endure childbirth (albeit with an epidural, thank you very much) than have that again.
Anyway, since then, I have not exactly been your poster child for outdoor winter sports. My idea of a good time in winter is to curl up in front of the fireplace (even the imaginary one I now have) with a good book in one hand and a cup of hot tea in the other. Quick, close the door as you go out because you're letting in a draft...!
When we got married, one of the first things Tom did that first winter was to haul all of us (tiny kids included) every Saturday morning up the canyon to go snowmobiling. Braden, who was only about two at the time, rode with Tom while Evan rode with me. Unfortunately, Evan was about four, making him a little taller and just the right height to make the top of his helmet bash me in the collarbone and/or chin, depending on the size of the bumps in the trail. While I have to say that I enjoyed those trips for about the first two hours, after about the 15th time that I got stuck in the snow or ran into a tree, I was done. Tom, on the other hand, didn't feel the need to quit until the sun was going down, QUITE a few hours past when I was ready. Nothing like trying to find your way back through the woods with little or no light, and if an after-hours blizzard happens to kick up, all the better!
Although I was always a good sport (even Tom will attest to this), I think my dear new hubby realized that he'd have more fun (and less work) if he left me home, at least most of the time. My brief stint with a winter sport had come to a blissful end! This set-up has suited me JUST FINE for years now, and I have to admit that it was a point of pride for me to live in Utah and never have been skiing. As I've mentioned before, I'm not the most graceful creature that ever walked this earth, and I honestly couldn't fathom strapping myself onto sticks of death and throwing myself down the face of a mountain. Really? Could I??!!!!
And then two weeks ago. Every year, starting in 4th grade, students in the area have a ski day where they can attend with their class, take lessons, and ski for a reduced rate. Not wanting to prejudice my children with my hatred of snow and all things cold, I have always ponied up the money and let them go on their merry way, letting their teachers be the first and only to see them reach this milestone. And I was fine with that, really. Last week was Savannah's first time, and Tom decided to sign up as one of the class chaperon's, even though he hadn't been skiing in 17+ years. I figured they'd go, ski down the bunny hill a few times, and then have it out of their systems.
Of course, that wasn't how it happened. Savannah loved it and took to the slopes like, well, like every other tiny kid you see up there. I swear these kids must come out of the womb with tiny skis and an innate knowledge of doing the pizza and french fry moves! Tom enjoyed it too, and since that day the whole family has been plotting my demise - oh, sorry - I meant to say planning a fun family outing!
Today was the day and it couldn't have been more ideal weather-wise; it was cold, but the sun was out, the skies were blue, and we were up out of the valley smog where you could actually breathe. I had immediate reservations as I tried to walk down the lodge steps in the rented boots without killing myself. Once I got the skis strapped on, my fear increased (especially when Evan tried to push me down a small slope, before anyone had even explained to me how to stop - thanks Ev - I owe you one!). A few pointers and many funny-looking runs down the bunny hill later ( where I'd go ten feet or so and then throw myself bodily to the ground to stop) I felt confident enough to go on the lift higher up the mountain. Actually, I was just desperate to get away from the tow rope which narrowly missed conking me in the head as I got tangled in one of my attempts to grab hold of it.
Anyway, Evan (are you seeing a pattern here?) assured me that the lift run was just like the bunny hill, only in two stages. What. A. Liar! I managed to make it in one piece to the bottom (only inwardly cursing small children who whizzed past me like future olympians) and after the adrenaline finished pulsing through me, I decided it hadn't been that bad and went on it again... and again... and again.
Towards the end of the day, feeling pretty good because I could ski slowly down the hill without having to flop over like a fish, a little boy about Savannah's age kept coming behind me, no matter how I tried to turn to get out of his way. It finally became apparent that he was trying to tell me something.
"What?" I finally said, turning to look at him and praying I wouldn't crash in doing so.
"My sister could teach you how to ski! She's REAL good!!" Said sister was just feet behind him, grinning from ear-to-12-year-old-ear.
Guess I'm not as good as I thought, but it was still a lot of fun. Any guesses as to what I'll be searching for at yard sales this summer?