It’s That Time of the Year: the time when snows dust the mountains of California’s Sierras with an alluring vanilla topping.
The time when Snow Bunnies spend their weekends queued up on the major highways leading to what is affectionately called ‘The Slopes’.
The time when Diane eyes tubing and tobogganing with envy but flashes back to the ill-conceived Peter’s Famous Cross-Country Ski Trip for Beginners (sans ‘Old Fogies Course’). You know: the one with the Magnetic Trees holding pits of caved-in snow around ‘em. Where Diane’s skis (being Strange Attractors) managed to hunt out EVERY tree pit on the course, with cursory cursing and repeated haul-outs (amongst much laughter) from the Peanut Gallery.
Let me explain this whole sordid experience (affectionately deemed ‘snow fun’) in more detail.
First, let me set the scene. Being a California Native (and more specifically, a San Francisco Native), ‘snow’ is simply not in my skillset. Nor ice. Actually: nothing to do with skiing, skidding, black ice, snowshoeing, etc.
The Peanut Gallery’s then-roommate Pete had become involved in Outdoors Activities and cooked up the seemingly-good idea of Bill and I Going Skiing with him. (He apparently had great cross-country talents in this area and wanted to turn us on to his favorite places. Bill had heard rumors of The Pie Lady in residence somewhere in the Sierra Mountains and was quite willing to brave a snowstorm for some good homemade pie [Note: like he never got any at home…riiight….]. Me: my experience of snow was entirely limited to a few snowballs thrown in one of all of 2 teenytiny snowfalls San Francisco experienced in my lifetime, so (unwittingly) I too was game for a Snow Trip.
The first thing that became evident was that one needed to Prepare. Hitherto-unknown specialty devices included: skiis, poles, special shoes, gloves, ski pants, waterproof jacket, etc. etc. I felt appropriately Abominable when outfitted in my rented snow stuff.
The second thing that became evident was: Pete had NO intention of taking us to the ‘tourist areas’ where people paid Big Bucks for cross-country and downhill skiing. Nope, he was gonna show us the real thing. No sissy manicured ski courses for us, ohnoo … we were going to ski the natural countryside the way God intended.
So we parked illicitly below a paid course, snuck in, and donned skiis well beyond sight of any toll-taker. I recall casting a longing glance at the smooth and very gently curving cross-country beginner’s course as we haughtily skied over it and into the forest beyond where the “real skiing took place” (according to Pete).
Ohyeah – my ‘real skiing’ took place there all right. My skiis apparently were sentient as they had a mind of their own. The rest of my body was quite interested in moving between the trees but NO: my skiis were determined to investigate that round depression around the first tree where snow fell in around its trunk, and they sped towards the tree like a magnetic train on the track to Hell.
BOOM! In the interests of not smacking full-face into the tree I instead opted for The Graceful Curving Topple and instead fell headfirst into the snow depression around it, feet sticking up, skiis waving as in a horror cartoon.
Crunch-crunch-crunch I heard from above; then roars of laughter from The Peanut Gallery. I saw nothing remotely funny about the matter. In fact, I saw nothing but snow and selected tree roots. After haughtily turning down help I determined a graceful exit from a head-first position whilst wearing skiis was simply not possible and grudgingly submitted to the Haul-Out by the still-chucking Peanut Gallery.
Contemplating their demise whilst retaining a facial expression that conveyed gratitude was difficult but achievable. I was set back upon my skiis, poles in hand, and had the Gallery takeoff in front of me, Pete executing skillful swoops between trees and Bill not-so-adeptly tottering behind.
It was like two of The Three Stooges had turned out for a winter stroll.
I attempted to gracefully follow their path but once again my skiis had a mind of their own and, having finished investigating the first tree, now set their sights on the next biggest tree with a sizeable depression of snow around it.
BOOM! If not skilled at actually skiing, I WAS becoming quite adept at The Flying Face-Forward Topple.
The Peanut Gallery gathered around me (their hilarity increased proportionally with each tree collision) and this time my legs didn’t wave frantically like a flightless bird attempting the impossible but, subdued, remained relatively quiet.
Throatclear from Pete: Ahem. Do you need help?
Me (muffled): Nope.
A moment of silence.
The Peanut Gallery: do you need your skii poles? (…I tended to fling them when toppling so I wouldn’t be impaled.)
Me (muffled): Nope.
Another moment of silence.
Pete (uncomfortably, thinkin’ ‘Maybe she hit her brain?’): So … you gonna get up?
Me (muffled): Nope. I am STAYING RIGHT HERE. You two go on. I’m gonna take a breather.
Bill (incredulous): UPSIDEDOWN?
Me: Yup. It’s waaay too much trouble to dig out. I may even take a leetle nap.
Between them, Pete and The Peanut Gallery convinced me that an upside-down nap at the bottom of a snow-filled tree hole might create consternation and alarm among any who should chance upon me, and that I should allow myself to yet again accept their generous aid in de-treeing. Chuckles and all.
When I was Hauled Out and set once again upon my skiis, I demanded the quickest way back to the lodge… SANS trees. By then Pete had had MORE than enough exercise hauling my butt out of tree crevices, and was willing to concede the loss of a cross-country adventure. Once I discovered the Lodge had Hot Chocolate, my butt became a Strange Attractor to my plush lodge chair and refused to leave the picture window for the duration of the trip.
Thanks to this traumatic (yet enlightening) experience I am SO NOT a Snow Bunny.
My idea of a good Snow Day involves a huge picture window, bottomless mugs of hot chocolate, and a scene in which any local wildlife comes to ME to peer in my window, making them both photo-accessible and appealing. One can, from such a vantage point, view the Snow Bunnies with a combined sense of pity and superiority, pointing out each downhill failure with a sense of glee, hot chocolate in hand, and much reflecting (“BOY, I’m glad I’M not out there freezing my butt off and identifying tree circles with my skiis.”)
But, my idea of a Good Day on The Slopes just could be changed by the specter of snow tubing: something that apparently didn’t exist 30 years ago.
According to my good friend, said Tubing involves things I can readily do:
- Flop my butt onto something big and squishy
- Go flying (with no controls) at light speed down a snow slope (SANS trees – YEA!)
- Get hauled upslope by a rope.
Heck – I figger I have ALL the experience from aforementioned snow experience to ALREADY be an expert in this endeavor.
THIS I could DO!
(WAIT – is THAT A TREE??)
Which only leaves the questions: were do I sign up? And who else’s game to go with me??