I did not grow up in an athletic family. I successfully resisted my father’s attempts to get me to put down the books and pick up the badminton racquet. I tried out for field hockey one year, ran track one year, LOVED the diving team but wasn’t good enough to keep my place on it, then decided sports just weren’t for me – and this was BEFORE kids started their sport of choice at age 3 as they do nowadays. But for some reason, my dad decided skiing something we COULD do as a family, so he became an instructor at Brandywine in the Cuyahoga Valley when I was 8 and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I skiied with my family every Saturday in winter for 9 years (until I went to college). When I got my first job, they sent me to Utah on a business trip for 4 days and told me to spend an extra weekend out there so I could ski. The mountain grandeur and knee-deep powder blew my East coast ice-sheet skiing mind and I was forever spoiled. I effectively gave up skiing after that for about 14 years until I found out about the Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio ski club and Emily, who inherited my athletic dismissiveness, expressed interest. As soon as Megan was old enough to join, too, skiing officially became a girl sport in our family. [John, who had braces on his legs as a child, claims a genetic inability to point his knees inward, and has thus proclaimed himself incapable of skiing. We let him slide, so to speak.]
So, despite it being a near-record 28th day of skiing already in Cleveland, Ohio with 60 inch base in some places, tonight was MY first night of the season out on the slopes – and I was excited!
It wouldn’t be warm, but I was fully equipped to brave the elements: new silk LL Bean long underwear for Christmas courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law to replace the 20 year old set that used to be my dad’s & new goggles from Santa to replace the 30 year old pair that used to be my mom’s and on which the foam had finally completely disintegrated.
Emily and Megan were ready, too, with their own sets of new long johns, new goggles, new ski hats, and snazzy new ski pants, too (no more bib style pants, making potty breaks much easier – yea!). We needed all the protection we could get, too. As the sun dropped, so did the temperature – bottoming out by 9:45 pm at 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although everyone was gung-ho, the first hour was touch and go. My children apparently mis-took me for a pack mule, claiming inability to carry their own equipment and clothing. I channeled my father, told them they couldn’t ski if they couldn’t carry their own stuff, and kept walking. When we hit the slopes, the 9 year old claimed to have forgotten EVERYTHING she learned last year – including how to make a wedge to stop or turn – while the 11 year old grumbled that “the baby hill isn’t steep enough for me to practice my parallel turns.” I told the 9 year old to stop whining and have some patience or I’d leave her in the middle of the hill (it only took one abandonment for her to figure out I meant it) and told the 11 year old to point her skis straight down the hill for speed until we all got our ski legs under us. Someone told me this week that parenting is only easy if you’re doing it wrong, so I figured I was doing fine.
I finally, with relief, dropped both kids off in the capable hands of the Boston Mills ski instructors and zipped off to find some peace and quiet among the black diamond slopes. The name was apt tonight. The sky was like soft black velvet and the lazy snow sauntered down like it hadn’t a care or rush in the world. A perfect crescent moon rose over the slopes and despite the fierce cold, there was peace in the snow-globed world.
This early in the season – and that late in the evening – there aren’t many confident advanced skiers, so I had about 5 runs in a row where I was alone on the hill, skied right onto the lift, and had a 3-seater chair all to myself. Next week, I’m bringing my ear-buds so I can rock out like all the ‘cool’ kids, but for tonight, my own thoughts made good company. By the time I rejoined the kids after their lesson, I was much more centered and they were much more confident and excited.
Since we’d been out for about two hours at that point, we took a 45 minute break to warm up and grab a quick dinner before heading back out for another lesson (where I joined them to observe their progress) and another 75 minutes of practice runs. When we piled into the car at 10 pm, everyone was cold, thirsty, and tired – but also invigorated, confident, and ready for another great season of winter sport in Cleveland.