Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ski Season

I hear it’s skiing weather again and I am all for it! True, here in the glacier scraped flatlands of North Missouri skiers are a rather insignificant part of the sporting population..unlike deer slayers, turkey hunters, rodent trappers, cat-fish snaggers and such..but I have fond memories of the skiing world.

Yes, I have skied. At one point in my life, in those insanity driven days of somewhat youthful motherhood, thinking it would serve to prepare them for “life beyond”, I often bombarded my suffering children and grandchildren with experiences over which I had no control. (Other than the ordinary day to day stuff over which I also had no control.)

The Great Ski Trip was on the list and I remember it well……we were living in Henry County back then and…


The planning stage of this trip had gone well, I thought. Kathy, at Clinton’s “Going Places” travel agency had done a great job for us. Also there was a lot of communication beforehand. I remember a conversation with my oldest son, Les, calling from his home in Kansas City.

“Well, Hi, Son. What’s up?”

“Nothing much. I just called to see what you were wearing to ski.”

“Oh, something warm I guess. You know how I hate to be cold. Something warm and lots of it.”

“Well, why don’t you let me pick you up something up here in Kansas City? How about ski bibs? (snowpants for big people)

“Well, I kind of thought I might wear my snowsuit. You know. The one I got the winter we kept the hogs.”

A long silence here. I think he was trying to remember what my snowsuit looked like.

“Mom, I don’t think they are wearing too many snowsuits on the slopes. Why don’t you let me pick you up some bibs? What color is your jacket?”

“I don’t know. Just a minute.” I had to lay the phone down to get to the side of the house where the window by the basketball hoop was.

“John, what color is that coat you said I could borrow?”

He said it was brown.

“It’s brown,” I tell Les, “Brown with tan arms. I remember now.”

Another silence. This conversation was beginning to drag.

“Mom, I don’t think they’re wearing too much brown anymore.”

By now I was getting bored and changed the subject. I hate conversations that don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Later, I had to admit, the kid was right. We didn’t see too many people in shiny-blue snowsuits. Mostly they wore matching mauve, pink, blue, yellow or gray ski suits with little square bottle warmers velcroed to their backsides.

My son turned out matched up like an advertisement for Johnny Walker, with gray ski bibs and matching jacket, gray and mauve-rimmed goggles and mauve and gray eiderdown gloves. The kid had turned into a yuppy!

At ski school my youngest son, John, and three of my nine grandchildren, Sean, 13, Stephanie, eight..(or maybe nine), Chris, nine..(or maybe eight,) and I struggled with “pies”, (that’s keeping the front of the skis in a pigeon-toed position), stopping, (anyway you can,) and “getting up off the ground.”

According to ski types there is an acceptable way and a disgusting way to get up. I tried to master the first, which involves tucking your knees under you and raising yourself with your arms. During this process I noticed that a disproportionate amount of body weight had recently and mysteriously settled below my waistline.

I opted for the disgusting way and you don’t want to hear about it.

We survived ski school and by afternoon were on Schoolmarm Trail a gentle trail designed for grandmothers in blue snowsuits and small children.

I only fell four times! I was ecstatic! What did it matter that I took the slope in the pie position? I could ski!

We stood in line to buy lunch and another to get a table to eat at. The only time we had a table to ourselves the whole weekend was when Chris threw up during a rest period the first day. I guess it was the altitude.

The next day, still beaming over my accomplishment on Schoolmarm Trail, I scrambled up the shuttle-bus steps in my overstuffed snow suit expecting another day of success on skis.

But it was not to be. This mountain was different. This mountain was not kind. My “pies” did not hold. My skis kept crossing, sending me somersaulting downwards and crossways.! If they didn’t cross I built up too much speed and bounced from snow bank to snow bank!

I was miserable.

At this point my son, the Yuppy, turned into a cross between the Nordic Ski Patrol and Ghengis Kahn.

“Use your downhill ski! Turn! Turn! Don’t lay in the trail! Get up! Use your downhill ski! Turn! Turn! Don’t lay in the trail!”

Like Erma Bombeck, I tried to remember those days before he was born and why I had wanted a child. There must have been a reason but I couldn’t think of any.

I fell seventeen times before I stopped counting. It was getting very tiresome. I was getting very angry. My son was beginning to exhibit signs of embarrassment I hadn’t seen since he was a teenager.

I tried to look at things from his point of view.

Yes, it must be embarrassing to look down at your fat little mother, in her out-dated snowsuit, groveling in the snow. Yes, I could understand that. Thinking of his problems helped me put the whole thing in perspective.

Calmly removing my skis I announced that I would walk to the next spot on which I felt competent to ski. “When pigs fly,” I muttered into the zipper tab of my snow suit.

By the look on my sons face you would have thought I had suggested trussing up my grandchildren and using them for snowshoes!

“Nobody walks on the mountain,” he says.

“I walk on mountains,” say I.

“Nobody walks on the mountain,” he says.

“You said that, Boy. You’re wrong. I walk on mountains,” I said.

“It’s against the rules,” he says. “Nobody walks on the mountain.”

“You know what they can do with that rule?” I say.

He looked at me and started to say something but didn’t. I think he was remembering the time I threw the chair at him for torturing his sister.

I walked down the mountain.

…But I DID SKI! For one day..I DID SKI!