This week, we are trying on long underwear, searching for polypropylene socks, getting out helmets, and matching up gloves. We've attached the tags to our winter coats, and Boy in Black is getting his snowboard waxed. Every Sunday for the next couple of months, the kids and I will be heading to the ski slopes.
We are lucky to live within 25 miles of a good ski slope. Winters can be long here – it will be a months before I again feel sunshine against my bare legs – but spending at least one whole day outside in the fresh air every weekend does wonders for the winter blues. I am looking forward to all of it again – the crowded lodge filled with wet clothing, the bag lunches and french fries covered with hot sauce, the huddle of kids gathering for ski lessons near the bunny hill, the chairlift that lets me stare down at the half pipe to watch the coolest boarders do their stunts.
I love everything about skiing -- the speed, the movement, the way it feels to glide over the snow, the sensation of flying, the adrenaline in my blood making every moment on the slope exciting. Because I learned to downhill ski as an adult, I am terrified on the black diamond slopes – and I love that feeling. I still panic at the sound of ice rattling as a gang of teenage snowboarders – they travel in packs – races past me, carving their way down the slope, always at top speed, me staring at their coats to see if any of them are related to me. I look forward to the side trails that take me through the woods, narrow trails edged with pine trees, the snow fresh and white.
I'll be bringing my own four kids, as well as Blonde Niece and Skater Boy. Neighbor Guy will join us with Older Neighbor Boy, Philosophical Boy, and Neighbor Girl. Several of our other extras snowboard as well, getting rides with parents or friends. So every time I get going too fast and go flying head first into a foot of powder or slam my body down ungracefully on an icy slope, there is sure to be a teenage snowboarder nearby to cheer me on and tease me with sarcastic comments until I am forced to get back up again.
And of course, it always feels good to return home, soaked and chilled through, muscles aching from too many falls. On the ride home, I am always filled with relief that none of my kids got injured on a jump or rail. And by then, my whole self is anticipating a hot bath, dry clothes, and a crackling fire.