I think you’ll like these. A guy yesterday took them out and had a blast on them.

I’m not looking to have a blast. In fact, that’s the furthest thing from my mind.  

I’m simply looking for a pair of skis that don’t go too fast and can get me safely down this Mountain where I’m not sure I want to be.

I’m here at the foot of Cannon, our neighborhood 4000-foot monster. As you take the last bend through the Notch, she’s suddenly looming right there beside you, scarred with ski trails dropping steep and fast into the frozen lake below.  

I’m really a novice, I interject.

Intermediate…I add indecisively, not wanting to sound totally incompetent. 

I’ve been skiing since I was a little kid. Just not often and never terribly well. I reached my peak with the stem christie, long since abandoned in the late ‘60’s on these slopes. I’m competent enough to get myself slowly and safely down the Green (Easy) and (less-happily) Blue (Intermediate) trails.

I hold out my phone and scroll through all the pictures I took out skiing last week to find the picture of a pair of skis I’d liked. In fact taking pictures out here is what I especially like. Not so much blasting on skis as the killer views.  

He finishes adjusting the skis that are a blast and hands them to me with a smile, Once you get them under you, you can lean out and let ‘em rip.

Has he not been listening?

Out here on the slope, everyone is rippin’.  Right, left everyone is flying by me. Is this really a Blue trail?  Is there nothing Green? Does Green even live up here? Alas it seems our only options are a Steep Blue, Narrow Blue or Steep-Narrow-Icy Blue. 

I’m definitely NOT on top of these ski. In fact the whole Mountain is weighing down on me. I can’t cut, can’t slow, can’t get these skis to do much of anything but take me fast and furious down the Mountain.  

My ski friends glide ahead of me, swaying with ease down the slope.

I follow cutting and slow, quick nerve-gripping turns to avoid tumbling off the cliff at the side of the trail.

Today’s my fourth day of downhill skiing in the past few weeks, my winter splurge for moving up here to the North and living next door to a two ski areas, Cannon and Bretton Woods. In fact we even have our own little ski hill right in town (tiny Mount Eustis) that opens if we have enough snow which so far this winter we have not. I figured I better take advantage of what is here and besides I’d met a few folks at church who are avid skiers and thought what a great way to spend time with them. 

This morning Tonya texted that she was a cautious skier and didn’t want to slow us down. I texted her back that for sure she would be waiting for me. I’m cautious too. Perhaps, just plain slow. 

On the next chair ride up, Henny tells me that World Champion and Olympic Legend Bode Miller from neighboring Easton learned to ski here. He was home-schooled and his parents not much into it. Instead they took him here everyday, all day, to ski.  

What an education!  

Cannon is a “Real” Mountain I’m told. Not like Loon, the Mascara and Musk Mountain down under or the Geriatric Mountain of Bretton Woods up the road – which is in fact where I love to ski! Wide gentle trails, so much Green. No cliffs or ski-bombers. Just local school children lined up on the slopes for midweek ski lessons. Perfect! 

By the fourth run, I’m overdue for a break and tell my ski friends I want to try another pair of skis as a chance to take a breather. 

Do you have anything slower? It’s really fast out there.

Skis with brakes… hmm…

These are good for edging, if you like to cut-in.

Do you have anything shorter?

He hands me a pair that “act” like they are shorter.  

I have no idea what that means but say I’ll try them.  

Suddenly on my next run, the World turns. Instead of the Mountain being on top of me, I’m on top of the Mountain. In fact, I can ski. Not like Bode but I can cut, turn, no longer fighting for control. I have time now to think about all the other things – where to put my hands, when to bend my knees, when to rise and fall, where and when to lean….

If only it took just a change of skis to put us all on top of whatever Mountain is now weighing down on us in all its sheer icy heft and terror. If only it took just an aptly named pair of “Mindbender” skis for the world to turn and put us on top of the Mountain.  

I have fabulous fun runs. Perhaps I’m having something of a blast.  

Not willing to settle for the perfect fit, however, I try another shorter and swervier pair and quickly turn them back in for the skis that fit.  

Soon the dreaded Cannon wind howls and swirls. Sharp snow snaps at our faces, pushes us back up the Mountain we are struggling to descend. I welcome the braking except when the wind whips around to the side and threatens to topple me off the dreaded cliff. 

Back at the base, I ask if my ski friends are done. Relieved when they say, Oh yes

In five days I leave for the desert, an eleven-day wilderness “adventure” that includes a three-day solo experience (February 6-8) in Anza-Borrego State Park in southern California. 

This particular trek with the Animas Institute is called a “Soul Quest” and while I don’t come with a particular longing for anything to happen to my Soul, I come knowing what I want.

I don’t need a Mountaintop experience, just a time that I can open and give myself to, curious what I may discover.

I know that the ways of Soul are such that it sometimes takes the Mountain being on top of us to discover the way to finding ourselves on top of it. Perhaps it is a Soul Quest that sends me down the slopes at Cannon and off to a solo-immersion in the desert.  

For the past week I’ve been unable to get on top of my packing list. Can’t sort out what I have to take, what’s in the laundry basket and what else I’ll need. Worry about giving up my beloved morning cup of coffee and know I need to try forgoing it soon – I keep saying perhaps tomorrow.  

But yesterday, the last of my work responsibilities were cleared out.  

I heard from a guy on the trip that he is super-excited and thought perhaps I might let myself be as well.  

So despite last night’s snow squall, I took off to pick up my last bit of supplies. I found them all: matches, moleskin, watch, ground cloth and plastic trowel.

At the register, the cashier holds up the trowel, There’s no UPC code.  

I don’t know whether to apologize or explain…

Glancing at the line growing behind me he says, Why not come back tomorrow and pick one up then?  

Oh, I can’t wait. I have to have it tonight. It’s why I came. I’m going camping and we have to bring a trowel.  

He glances out the window at the falling snow.  

Oh, not in Littleton, out West –  as if that explained it.  

The line behind me grows as the UPC code is found. Nobody seems in a rush. Perhaps no one wants to face the snow.  

The trowel found. 97 cents just like he called it.  

It’s silly I know. As silly and superfluous as alpine skiing but with my bag of supplies and trowel in hand, I feel like Bode. Feel in fact I can now take on any Mountain.  

I’ll let you know what happens. Back in a few.  

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