A short essay about the joy of skiing. Please tell me what you think!
| Poppy in the Snow
The wind. The cold. The sharp pinch as a loose clump of frozen snow hits my cheek-bone. My slow, and relaxed exhale of a white puff of carbon dioxide into the frozen air that has an essence of Douglas-furs and pine. Yes, I am sprinting head-down into a pillow of white, frozen powder.
Alpine skiing is my thing. My love for thin air, hot, red cheeks, and frozen toes is just the crust to the gooey goodness inside. That warm, tingly anxiety that I get right before I plunge down-hill to the exciting, steep, black-diamond slope of nothing but moguls and powdered, ice-crusted mountain terrain is hard to fear. The first jump is just a bump that I ignore. I stab my right ski pole into the mogul to turn myself the opposite direction, and then I relax as gravity does the rest. Stab, turn, slide. Stab, turn around. This is the easy part. The top of "Clipper" at Sierra at Tahoe is always the bumpy, but the least steepest of the whole half-mile run. Once I make the long, narrow turn onto a sunny, open plain; I am free.
This part is a breathtaking, or so I see through my tinted goggles. The clouds, and the snow-covered mountains above the tall, fairy-tale-like Christmas tree scene makes the corners of my mouth curl upwards. I stand here, for just a moment before, with skill, turning around to dodge a mogul. But, my left leg looses it's place, and I topple down-hill: skis and all. Thank God for these icy slopes that shorten my fall to two feet down, right on my lumbar. My smile doesn't disappear. It spreads even wider.
What I hear between my deep breathing, and the rushing wind is the ubiquitous noise of the ski lift that got me up here in the first place. I get up on my knees, transitioning my weight onto my thighs and knees to grab hold of my ski poles and get up from this bitter-cold slope. Once my tight gloves have a good grip on these short, carbon-poles, I adroitly hoist myself up, being demure of the never ending ski-lift riders one-hundred feet above my head. I push myself off of the mogul once again, and slide down the hill. This slope makes another turn onto a super-steep run that has been overgrown with tall plants and baby trees. This place is empty. No ski-lifts, and most importantly; no more skiers. I am pretty much alone here. I have not forgotten; this is the steepest, and the last part of the this run.
I slide over to the edge, the one right before the hill dips down into the unknown heaven of pleasant feelings and happy thoughts of silly falls on another run, or a story that my dad shared with my family as we ate banana coffee-cake. Again, just like in the good-days, I push my hands, and jump down over the first one. Stab, turn, relax. Stab, turn relax.
After a while, I forget that I just fell, and I zone-out. All I feel is the warm-feeling inside, the cold feeling outside, and the thin, icy air digging down into my lungs. I have gotten through the crust, and into the middle. It's so pleasant, that I smile even more. It is a lot like eating a fresh, burning hot loaf of black rye-bread with sweet-cream butter. That poppy has just popped out The constant, consistent movements with my legs just continue as I fly down, my skies just oozing off and out as the excess snow skips down to the next mogul, as if waiting on me. I keep on tripping over the underbrush, but by now, it is like butter. Smooth; not being disturbed.
Before I know it, I am the edge of the run. No more moguls, just a straight jump down right before I am forced to exit my comfort-zone, and enter reality of thin-air, frostbite, and red cheeks. My ride isn't over. Make that final push. I feel that vibration underneath my skis, and make that jump. I bend my knees, and lean forward, just prepping for it. Just the start of a small north breeze could have happened, and I am here. I push off, right at the jump, and I fly. This second of zero gravity, and freedom, is what makes me smile. The thought of nothing, just the feeling of thin air rushing through my brain gives me a rush that warms me. Now I wonder if I will land correctly, or break my leg. No, I have done this for almost a decade, and it's not possible. I land it. Perfectly. Just as my feet gently hit the ground, rattling my skis on the flat terrain of reality. Still, the smile on my face hasn't been splattered on. It is mine. The smile of a great run, and a great time of my life.