Civilized Skiing

            I like skiing and I can still do it.  This is good news.  Yesterday, after my first day of skiing in several years, I hated it.  Yesterday looked like this, which looks quaint for a Christmas card, but I can tell you it provided zero visibility on the ski slope.

My entire day was defense against icy speed and bumps that I couldn’t see coming.  I also feared I was paying the price for about three weeks now without going to the gym and an almost steady diet of charcuterie and fromage.  And there was  also a lot of bread.
I really wondered if I had waited too long, let my skills go, and skiing was a lost sport to me.  This made me sad because Allan and I have long harbored visions of ourselves being those lean, Norwegian-type retirees you always see at ski resorts.  These are not tourists.  They are locals who have, over their lifetimes, developed a deeply artistic and all-business style of skiing.  They are really about interacting with the mountain.  You see them shooshing down the slope below you from the chairlift and  it’s like they just started at the top of the mountain, pointed their skis downhill, and then danced in an unbroken rhythm to the music in their heads.  Pure ballet.  Then you see them in the lodge at lunch, not eating the burger and fries, but their own tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread (surely homemade) and an apple.  Then it’s right back to why they are there:  working those slopes.  When I woke up this morning, not excruciatingly sore in every molecule of my body and there was also a bright blue sky, I took these as signs from God that I should give it another solid attempt.
The thing about skiing is that it requires you to focus 3 to 10 feet ahead, pick a path, and then try to ski it with strength and hopefully some style.  For that reason, it is very meditative and mind-clearing.  You just can’t think about anything but the moment.  I will admit that I linked together a few admirable sequences.  Predictably, there were also awkward moments, but nothing face splatting… today.
Allan said, “ You will love skiing in the Alps.  It’s so civilized.”  He had taken a student group from Singapore skiing in Verbier years ago and told me about how you can ski for kilometers and then come upon a little hut where you can have a beautiful lunch and rest before heading on your way.  We found such a hut today.  The proprietor is this handsome gray-haired man.
The menu of the day was salmon a la fondue with four vegetables:  roasted endive, roasted potatoes, stuffed tomato, and salad.
Then people sat around sunning on the terrace before strapping on the skis and getting in a couple more hours of ski runs.

That’s not exactly the elegant Norwegian model, but it was really civilized