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Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Miss-Adventure Skiing for Love

Shakespeare said, "The course of true love never did run smooth." I was about to find out just how accurate these words were.

My true love was a real "jock," the type that can excel in any sport. I am the opposite: clumsy, off balance, awkward. I started ballet lessons when I was nine, but my teacher soon noted my tendency to fall down and suggested that I take up tumbling instead. If I ignored her advice, she predicted, I would never live to see twelve. Thankfully, I listened and survived several tumbles down stairs, missteps off curbs, and close-encounters with various hard surfaces. Surviving past the predicted time of my demise to my then age of 32, encouraged me to agree to an excursion, which I knew in my heart, was asking for trouble. My true love was taking me skiing.

I knew that I had to prepare carefully for this adventure if I were to survive, so I took great care in planning for my new experience. I went shopping.

My theory was that if I looked good enough, no one would notice that I could not ski! I pictured myself on the slopes in my new scarlet and gray ski jacket, my pert little woolen hat, my long, blond hair streaming behind me as I performed a perfect downhill run.

The fateful day dawned clear and crisp with the smell of impending snow in the air. "Perfect skiing weather!" Mark exclaimed, as he loaded our gear onto the top of his "Copper Kettle," the nickname he had fondly given his brown, 1979 Toyota Celica.

Snow arrived just as Mark pulled into the parking lot. He retrieved our equipment, stacked skis and poles against a metal railing and took me into the lodge. Now, this is nice! I thought to myself, quite pleased with the smell of hot chocolate, coffee and the site of a crackling fire. This won't be so bad after all! Mark made short work of paying our fees and escorting me to the slopes.

I knew I was in trouble when I saw that I had to use a towrope. Operated by a motorized winch, this contraption pulled people to the top of the hill. One would grab on with both hands, bend their knees, and "ski" to the top. I might have been okay had I not been behind an eight-year-old who decided to let go. Tumbling downhill, entangled with a preadolescent snowball, I was plopped into the center of the large, all-encompassing branches of a huge pine tree. Suddenly, I remembered that I was allergic to evergreens.

Sneezing my brains out, hair snarled by hundreds of sticky needles, and trying to extricate myself from a pine needle prison, I finally crawled free, skis dragging behind me, to the merriment of those who had witnessed my struggles. Mark, laughing with the others, informed me that I had to try the towrope again.

Taking a deep breath and grabbing hold a second time, I began my ascent to the top. Eyes darting wildly, so intent was I upon scouting for my eight-year-old nemesis, I forgot to release my hold. Someone was shouting, "Let go! Let go!" It was Mark. I was coming perilously close to the top pulley through which the rope was threaded. I found myself suspended above the ground by God knows how many feet. I let go, landing, to my astonished relief, without injury. Straightening, I attempted a dignified waddle, skis still miraculously intact, to the top of what Mark called the "Bunny Hill."

Bunny Hill? Below me stretched an almost vertical slope of deep, glistening snow. Scattered about this dazzling visage of white were pine trees, tall with dark trunks, their branches reaching out to entrap me once again. Frost-tipped air pinched my nostrils, causing my eyes to tear. I felt dizzy, and belatedly, remembered that I was also afraid of heights. I immediately had an asthma attack.

I had also forgotten to take into consideration that I suffer from four types of asthma: allergy, exertion, stress and temperature-induced. Mixed with my innate clumsiness, my tendency to fall over for no reason, and a general lack of balance, it became quite clear to me that my new outfit might not be enough to carry the day.

Okay, Debra, you can do this, I whispered to myself. I made the sign of the cross, sent a plea to Jehovah, asked Allah to guide me, fingered my rabbit's foot and down I went.

I think I'm going to make it! I thought, as I slowly worked my way downhill. I was feeling quite cocky until I heard Mark scream "Turn, turn!" Confused, I started to look back and then I heard someone else scream "Stump!" I felt a jolt and was airborne. My pert little woolen hat flew off and I landed with a thud. Years of tumbling saved me once again as I landed in what, to me, was a very comfortable position.

Now, I have sat in the W position all of my life. Turning my legs outward instead of inward, I can touch my heels to my hips when sitting or lying on the floor. I guess the skier who had just slammed into me did not know this, because when he got up and saw my skis nestled against my ears, he threw up.

It certainly had not been a smooth run and at this point I was rather upset with my true love, but I think the final straw was when I saw a two-year-old on skis a foot long, skipping by me like she was strolling through the park. I decided immediately that the best part of skiing was the hot chocolate (with peppermint schnapps) and the cozy fireplace in the lodge. My cute little ski outfit would look great in the lodge ... if I could just manage to get there.

©2016 Debra Shiveley Welch

Excerpt from Swinging Bridge


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