Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

Well, I had another birthday.

When you have the number four in front of your age, birthdays are not quite the same. It’s not like you’re jumping up and down going, “Look at me! I’m a year older!” or “I’m about to hit my fertility expiration date!” or “If you only knew how much I spent on Botox last year!”

It’s not like when I was in my 30s and single and alone and kind of miserable and my happiness was measured by how many drinks I could down without puking or how many people I could squeeze into one table at L’Hostaria or how many shots of limoncello Scotty would send over from the bar.

I’ve always been a bit of an attention whore, but when it came to my birthday, being fussed over was like Princess kryptonite. Everyone better love me and buy me lots of presents and sing and shower me with bottles of wine and flower arrangements, though it was always my mom who sent the flowers and it was only because she knew I wanted her to.

Ryan has helped me get over some of that, mostly because he’s got these really good values, which took some getting used to. He makes me feel special every day, so I don’t need it as much when my birthday rolls around. See, he has successfully brainwashed me into believing that all I need is love instead of Moncler jackets and jewelry from Tiffany. He got me a pair of pink platform Converse sneakers he saw me looking at online, and I think they are the coolest gift ever.

My birthday just so happened to fall on Bowl Babe Friday, which has become my new favorite thing in the whole world. It all started when my friend Cat became adamant about hiking Highland Bowl once a week as part of her prenatal sanity care. As we close in on T-minus four weeks until her due date, she continues to drag her ever-burgeoning bump up that mountain and down it with gusto and flair.

One Friday, I had been up all night with horrible stomach cramps on account of overindulging on Valentine’s Day after a three-week cleanse. Needless to say, a bottle of champagne, a rich meal and a red velvet cake is not a good idea after living on birdseed. As I writhed in pain, I thought about what I would say or how I would bow out gracefully. Around 3 a.m. I realized that Cat never made excuses, and neither would I. So I rallied, and I was fine. I was better than fine. I was just – better.

Speaking of birthdays, I’m really excited to meet this baby as I feel I’ve bonded with the Bump after hiking with it every week, knowing this little life in the making is there with us, not only for the climb but for the whoops and hollers it must hear on the way down. Does it know its mother’s joy? Will it be born with strong lungs and a passion for skiing?

So, it’s my birthday, and I’m, like, more excited about the Bump’s birthday. I call it the Bump 2.0 because it’s her second kid.

“I’m so excited!” I said, rubbing her belly.

“I only have four weeks left to ski,” she groaned, pulling her pack off her back and setting her skis in the snow. It’s the little things that are getting harder each week – buckling her boots and bending over to pick up her poles.

I laughed. “Most women are excited to meet their new baby, and you’re, like, worried about how much time you have left to ski?” “I’m going to be with the baby its whole life,” she said, that glint of sarcasm in her eye. “I want to ski for as long as I still can.”

I never understood her addiction to skiing until now – “now” being the key word.

Everyone told me when I moved downvalley I would never ski again, but the opposite happened: I appreciate it more now than I did when it was right there in my backyard.

See, Bowl Babe Friday wasn’t just the highlight of my birthday; it’s been the highlight of every week. I’ve been hiking the bowl whenever I can, logging more days and loving it more than I ever have. It’s become so much more to me than snowboarding. At first I misunderstood. I thought it was because when you’re up there, time sort of ceases to exist. But then I realized what Cat has understood all along – it’s actually quite the opposite.

My yoga teacher Marlon always says, “Live where your breath is.” I know that sounds like a cheesy yoga-teacher line, but Marlon is a far cry from a wannabe spewing shanti chants in lotus pose. She’s a feisty 59-year-old Irish Canadian with the body of a 16-year-old cheerleader who brags about how she lives on white wine, ice cream and potato chips. I don’t know if yoga taught me more about hiking the bowl or if hiking the bowl taught me more about yoga or if Cat is more of a guru than any yoga teacher I’ve ever known or if snowboarding is more yogic than yoga itself, but finally it all started to make sense.

There is something about putting one foot in front of the other up that boot-pack staircase – in air so thin that your lungs sting and legs turn to lead – that does the opposite of suspend time: It forces you to be in the moment. So it doesn’t matter what’s going to happen in the future (like, you’re about to give birth in a few weeks) or what happened in the past (today is the day you were born 43 years ago). Every day I spend up there, surrounded by mountains and my people, is the greatest gift of all.

The Princess is getting very philosophical in her old age. Email your love to