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

New Year’s Day in the Alps

            After a switchbacking drive into the mountains, Allan and I are at Alpes d’Huez.  It is a ski resort that was recommended by a teacher at our school who takes students on ski trips here so it has a dormitory vibe.  I kind of like that.  It’s basic and our breakfast, dinner, room, and ski gear are all included.  All we have to do is eat, ski, sleep, think, and talk.

            It is always a transition for us after we have been with our sons for a period of time.  We want to maximize every second with them and we have such a full time, but then they are suddenly gone and we look at each other and think, well, it’s you and me again.  You can almost audibly hear a down-shifting between us.  We don’t need to make dinner plans for four, keep the group entertained, or laugh at all of the jokes.  We can be spontaneous and even quiet if we want to.
You hear about couples who get into troubled waters when their kids leave home.  I can understand why.  People change more than they think they will as the years go by.  You’ve heard the warning that if you want to know what your spouse will be like, just look at his or her parents.  I think when I reached 40 or 45 and I didn’t seem to be exactly like either of my parents, I thought I had broken the mold.  But then 50 came and I see mannerisms creeping up on both Allan and me that are inbred.  Some things we are aware of and some we aren’t.  They aren’t all bad, but it might take quite a lot of determination to avoid others.  It might get interesting.
Yet, when we have some demand-free time to just exist together, we get  back into our friends element.  I still really like being with Allan.  He’s funny, kind, smart,  and athletic.  I don’t see us hitting the marriage wall and my advice to friends who are in the thick of child-raising is to tend your relationship with your mate.  You’re going to need someone you like being with when your kids get on an airplane and leave one day.
We need a segue here.  It’s New Year’s Day and it has been many years since I haven’t been on my Lummi Island farm for this day.  It might be my favorite day of the year.  Our best friends come out and we have our Polar Bear swim in Rosario Strait, then it’s up to the hot tub and a highly caloric feast.
Last year, I made French food:  bouillabaisse, fondue, and couer a la crème.  This was just weeks before I started photographing every bite I ate for a possible blog entry so I don’t have photos of the food.  I only have one of the kids who we made eat outside because the house is small, it was a beautiful day (although cold), and they are really noisy.  This explains why they look sad and seized up.
Today I had a fondue lunch with just my husband in the Alps.  I definitely never saw that coming a year ago.
I miss my friends, our farm, and our kids, but being here with Allan is just fine, too.