Marolt: Taking turns enjoying a gift
I make my living as a certified public accountant and make my enemies writing a weekly column for The Aspen Times. I make a few with the Snowmass Sun, too, but the folks in the village are a different sort of heart-of-the-country breed who are not convinced that words hurt more than sticks and stones, so, for the most part, they don’t get easily riled.
And so I sit over a cup of coffee and keyboard at 4 a.m. making time out of unconsciousness, on what I am about 90 percent sure is Thursday, writing this column. It’s because I appreciate you. I appreciate the opportunity to do this in my hometown. I don’t say it often enough, if I’ve ever said it at all: Thank you! You are more important than early-morning REM sleep.
Given the circumstances, today I’m giving you a choice of what you want to read. Let’s see a show of hands. Who wants skiing? OK. Let’s see who wants a few last-minute tax tips — all right, tax tips it is!
The best way to save a few bucks is by — oh, wait; a few of you have changed your minds. OK, OK, we’ll do skiing.
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe in coincidence. The way I see it is that either everything is random or nothing is. I don’t see it that there is a part-time God who takes long coffee breaks and lets things work themselves out. Everything occurs for a purpose, even if it is often beyond our meager abilities to discern.
So, I’m skiing last Sunday late in the afternoon. I finish with the usual — Ho Chi Min (because Lift 6 is closed), over to carve down the gut of Ruthie’s to Aztec to eventually finish the day off with Corkscrew.
At the top of Ruthie’s, there are a father and a kid making some really nice turns ahead of me. I watch them as I follow them. They are having a ball! They stop, and I keep going, not thinking more about the simple, pleasant scene in the low-angled sun.
I get to the top of Corkscrew and am surveying the terra firma, figuring out where the dirt band protecting the run from entry is narrowest. Such was the work the spring sun had done that you had to get either air or a core shot in order to ski many runs on the lower part of Aspen Mountain.
In that moment of concentration, a person skids to a stop next to me. I’m startled. Then things get surreal. He holds a finger up to his lips, telling me to be quiet. He’s smiling broadly. Then his kid is with us.
Without a word, the family duo continues down the catwalk and stops again, halfway between Corkscrew and Lift Line. Dad sidesteps down through the trees and cuts into the top of Lift Line — the only possible way to access it today. His roughly, I would guess, 11-year-old kid follows. What the heck? I go, too. They wait for me to maneuver a fallen log in the track, and as soon as I’m in the clear, they politely look down the run as if to say, “You’ve got the honors.”
I take them. Because of the bat cave-like entrance, nobody has skied it all day, and a thin, top layer of corn just peels away from the hardpack beneath, and everything becomes even more like a dream.
My new, silent friends rip it up after me, and we meet at the bottom — mind you, without saying a word. Bare teeth showing between sunburned, flexed-ski lips say it all. We head down Little Corkscrew through the ball-knocker bumps. By the time I hit Dago Road, they’ve already cleared it on their way to 1A. I’m parked at Nell. Sensing my halt, they stop and wave, still all smiles. I don’t know who they are. We may never see each other again.
It was an odd but joyous feeling I had, letting my skis lead me down the familiar road crossing the bottom of the mountain. I’d just had a third-person view of me, as a kid, skiing with my dad and me, as a dad, skiing with my kids, simultaneously, on one of those wonderful days you never forget. What perspective! Talk about a long, open slope of waist-deep memories to float gracefully through. That was no coincidence. It was a gift!
Roger Marolt believes it is no coincidence that we are enjoying some of the best spring skiing we’ve had in years. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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