Marolt: Aiming for a nap and hitting the slopes
You work 10 hours one day and take a half hour off in the middle of it for just one run down Ridge of Bell, cutting over to the bottom of Jackpot before finishing off on Slalom Hill. It is this and not the tasks you got paid for that you think about before dozing off that night. It says a lot for skiing.
It doesn’t hurt that you make that single gondola lap with your brother who lives in the office next door during tax season. We share a sport that we think is part of our biological makeup, from the same DNA that gave us the narrow, straight, a bit too long noses on our faces. We share the practical career path that we calculated would bring us back home and support our habit of getting into the mountains as much as possible while giving the impression that we are bona fide responsible adults.
It is not that we don’t talk about work up there in the thin, fresh air. We talk differently — less urgency and more thought, fewer facts and more what-ifs, as the words from our mouths come less frequently while our eyes anticipate the terrain below. It makes us better at our jobs, we tell ourselves and our clients, if they happen to ask where we’ve been. Yes, this is necessary. So it is that skiing stitches our work and pleasures together tightly so that the seam doesn’t chaffe.
Sometimes it is astonishing how little effort we put into it. I find more often than not that the more planning you keep out of the joys in life, the more they will satisfy.
Easter Sunday, when the sky is blue and the clock strikes noon, is the ideal time to be sitting in a comfortable chair in the living room reading the lusciously thick big city newspaper while your teenage daughter catnaps on the sofa on the other side of the coffee table. Yes, in this age of instant alerts and electronic delivery it is all old news, but it is a luxurious anachronism to take it all in again at your own pace, not hesitating to put it down now and again for another cup of coffee or to scrounge a couple of jelly beans only to come back to it, right where you left off, never having to press a refresh button or re-enter your password to get the words back.
It is amazing that our digital devices can read our fingerprints and even more amazingly irritating that they need to prove this to us after every instance of setting them down for a moment of inactivity to gather our thoughts or contemplate what we have just read on them. I think it is a sign that these things have become far too critical in our lives when I, its verifiable owner, is required by it to perform a security measure in order to simply check the weather forecast or read a text from my mother-in-law.
And so it was when my daughter, waking herself from her slumbering brunch mid-snore asks groggily, “Do you want to go take a run?” It is actually a command in a weekend question’s loose-fitting clothing.
Before I can confirm, my wife — who has found peace in her own quiet spot upstairs in the bedroom to snooze off the fresh-off-the-family-tree klobasa sausage, potica bread, boiled eggs and canned peaches from the Americanized ethnically correct traditional post-church family smorgasbord at my mother’s house — blurts out, “I wanna go!”
We head to the mountain at 2 p.m., the Sun so hot that my daughter dares me to ski in shorts, and so I do for the first time in my life. This causes fate to ensure my brother Steve and his wife are unexpectedly at the bottom of Lift 1A as we get there to turn this joke into an embarrassment and, lo and behold, brother Mike skis down from above a few moments later to cement the humiliation.
The afternoon turns to be as joyously pleasant as it was a commonplace occurrence 20 years ago; all of us together cutting jokes and carving snow at each others’ expense. My wife remarked, fondly reminiscing, that is how it was in the old days, and I think that gave my daughter not only something to smile about but to shoot for. If this gig is going to be more of a lifestyle than it is just something to do, it has to be about more than just the turns.
Roger Marolt believes good skiing is a movable picnic. Email at email@example.com.
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