I was going to start this post by telling you that I’m not a very adventurous person, and then I took a look at my life lately and wondered if I was wrong about that and I deleted it. The Bike Rally, travel, everything that happened this weekend… maybe, I thought, maybe I am becoming a brave and fierce adventurer as I get older. I thought about that while I packed up our things, tucked two kinds of knitting in my bag, and I realized that I am pretty much the same. I am simply easily led, and have friends who adore escapade and fear nothing, and (in particular) a husband to match. Let me tell you about our weekend.
Joe is part of the team working on the National Music Centre in Calgary. He’s been flying back and forth every so often to work here a little, and he had to work here this past week. He looked at my schedule, and remembered that at some point in the year gone by, I’d said that I might maybe, possibly, consider giving skiing a go. It has always felt very unpatriotic that I can’t, and Joe can, and as the kids leave us behind, we’re looking for things that we can do together – things that can replace the excitement of a houseful of teenagers. Now, to be fair, I thought that when I mentioned the skiing thing, that we might bounce off to Blue Mountain (a small place here in Ontario) or maybe go nuts and try Mont Tremblant. I forgot who I was married to though, and the next thing I knew, Joe had put together that he had to be in Calgary, that I had a free weekend, and decided that since he had to come west anyway, that it would be very economical and clever indeed, for me to learn to ski in the CANADIAN ROCKIES. For the record, I do not recall specifically consenting to this, I was just suddenly on another Joe ride.
We flew to Calgary – Joe did what he had to do – I went along for a site visit, man, the new National Music Centre is going to be something…
and then we got in the car and I drove us (poor start, Joe forgot his drivers license so I lost a ton of knitting time chauffeuring) up to Lake Louise, and we had a good sleep, and then the next morning, bright and early, we toddled off to the ski hill. Joe had decided, for the sake of our marriage, that this adventure should start with skiing lessons – proper ones, from an instructor. We rented our skis and reported to Club Ski – where in an incredible stroke of good fortune, and even though we’d only paid for group lessons, I was the only beginner in the class, and me and my new best friend Brett “hit the slopes”. By this, I mean we went to the bunny hill where I learned how to put on skis, and we spent the rest of the day there, with me learning (more slowly than I can tell you) how to stand up, how to move forward, how to snowplow (it’s a way of stopping -vital information, I tell you.) At 10:30am Brett was skiing backwards in front of me while I clung to his hands like he was the last life raft on the Titanic, and by lunch, I could slowly cruise down the “carpet” (that’s what they call the bunny hill to make it sound less babyish – it doesn’t work) doing the slowest linked turns you have ever seen in your entire life, while swearing involuntarily (and a little hysterically) the whole time. Joe’s got a video of this – I thought I was going so fast that I could scarcely breath – in the film, you can see that toddlers walk faster.
I practiced the rest of that day, and things got a little better. The next day we went to Sunshine, and things got a little better again. I got off the bunny hill and on my first ski lift with the fabulous Brett. (Joe was off skiing off cliffs and skiing down sheer faces while leaping rocks and doing moguls.)
(This picture was taken before I tried to get off the ski lift, and invented several ways to do it, all various forms of horizontal. I fell getting off the lift five times in total, and at the end of one particularly catastrophic attempt I only had one ski.) I skied my first green run – top to bottom, all standing, and then my second green run, mostly on my bum – with a return to near tears, swearing, and one particularly low moment in which I referred to Brett (openly, and with real feeling) as a lunatic. Then we came back to the lodge and it turned out a lady in the other group had gotten hurt and I excused myself very civilly and cried in the bathroom for about 5 minutes. Joe was in another group than I was and he was such a good skier. I was… not. I sat there in the loo and I realized I had a choice. I could give in to every instinct I had and go out there and tell Joe and Brett that I was too scared and I couldn’t do it, or I could make the most of it and hope that I wouldn’t break an arm. (I felt like I could cope with a broken leg. Preferably the left one.) I went out and I told Brett I was ready to ski, and you know what? I did.
I skied a green run successfully three times that afternoon, and the next day we went way up high at Lake Louise, and I got on and off the ski lift without falling every time, and I skied a really long run, all the way from the top of the mountain down, and I even skied a run that was way, way too hard for me by accident (Brett was really sorry – apparently you don’t know what the groomers or ice have done to a run until you get up there – and then there’s only one way down, dammit) I wasn’t able to ski it without a return to language unbecoming a knitter, and I sat down (quickly and in the snow) to save my own life twice, but the important thing is that I skied it.
I skied it all, and with a little gracefulness, and no more tears, and when it was over, Brett said that I was a going to be a good skier, and that if I could ski greens in the Rockies I could probably ski greens anywhere, and I didn’t totally believe him. Brett’s a great guy, and all of that, but we did give him money to spend time with us, and so I felt like I couldn’t entirely trust his position, so last night I checked in with with Joe. I asked him what I was supposed to say now if someone asked me if I could ski. “Should I say that I can sort of ski? Do I say I can ski, but badly?”
“Steph” Joe said, “You can just say you can ski.”
I’m a skier now.