It wasn't so much the single digit temperatures that made Sunday a cold day at the ski slope: it was the gale force wind. The slopes were in good condition, hard-packed snow instead of ice, which is great to board on, and the frigid temperatures meant no lines at the chair lift. It was the kind of day when you make sure your helmet meets your goggles, your goggles meet your face mask, your face mask meets your neck gaiter, and your neck gaiter gets tucked into your coat.
We came in every couple of runs to warm up, gathering at the usual picnic table to eat sandwiches, drink juice, and fight over french fries with hot sauce. We were a smaller group than usual at the ski lodge, just me and the six boys: Boy in Black, Older Neighbor Boy, Shaggy Hair, Skater Boy, Philosophical Boy, and With-a-Why, a staircase of boys who range from seventeen down to eleven. When I was waiting in the snack bar to get some more french fries, a twenty-something woman gave me a shy smile and said, "We've seen you here every week, and we're just dying to know. How many kids do you have?"
Before I could even answer, she said, "We counted six sons today."
I laughed and explained that only three of the boys were my sons, but the extras were really part of the family. I glanced at the table and saw how she might think that they were all my kids: they were certainly acting like brothers, joking around, fighting over food in the cooler, exchanging goggles with each other, teasing each other, lacing each other's boots, shoving each other over to make more room on the bench.
I had brought the camera this week, but it was too cold to really use it much. Taking my gloves off in frigid temperatures is too much of a sacrifice. Besides, I am not that great at standing still on a snowboard. And it is hard to take photos of moving bodies. Here is the usual view I get of one of the boys – snow shooting up into my face as he carves past and disappears from my sight.
Here is the one time I got them all to stand still outside the lodge.