Today the kids are skiing a 1/2 day and I’m not skiing, as I’ve given my skis to Bree and haven’t managed to get a new pair yet. I’m enjoying watching and reminiscing. So when a friend’s boy asked me “do you come here often?” I had to grin. Oh, well ya …
I grew up coming to Devil’s Elbow on weekends. I think I was 3 1/2 when I was first put on skis. Day to day details are blurry but the general feel of those days remains firmly lodged in my subconscious. Long days. Early mornings. Tired kids. T-bars that lifted me off my feet. Racing. Friends. Dangerous and thrilling forest trails. Catching air on jumps. Puddles in March. Hoarded Mars bars hidden in ski jacket pockets till the time was right. It was an awesome childhood.
Mom and dad were both Ski Patrollers – they helped start up the Patrol at the Elbow, actually. Their dedicated volunteerism meant that we had to get here early and didn’t leave until the bitter end – after the last sweep, when patrollers would ensure that everyone was off the hills. We had the privilege of hanging out in the patrol hut and the knowledge that if WE skied like a Yeti we’d be in very serious trouble. We were victims on training days. It likely happened once, but my imagination has me being rescued from the chair lift every fall and in gale force winds.
As I sit here getting things out of the lunch bag for the kids, I think of mom’s lunches. I think they were much heartier. Always carefully constructed sandwiches (maybe tuna salad …with lettuce even) and veggie sticks and fruit and cheese. We’d plan to meet at a certain time and damn nation if you were late! Invariably there was a family sized Fruit & Nut bar for dessert. Dad was in charge of portioning it out. I recall the methodical way he did it, smoothing out the wrapper just so and laying out the squares while we did the math. (The sweets were the highlights of the day of course.)
We NEVER bought food from the cafeteria… Lou and I looked longingly at the crap our friends ate … the Vachon cakes … OMG. Joe Louis (chocolate, full circle) and Lune Moons (white, half circle) and the square ones with the raised caramel circle on top. PURE. ENVY. Of course I realize now that it was as equally a matter of economics as of health. The caf was and still is stupidly expensive. As Lou and I got older and had babysitting money we’d buy treats on the sly and eat the crap secretly and happily with our friends.
As I sit here writing and observing things and remembering, a bunch of kids are running through the chalet playing tag … shrieking and flinging themselves under tables. OMFG, if we did that we’d be dead!! Ok, we would never do that in the chalet because the owner, an older dude, Fred, would catch you and yell things and it would end very badly. So he’s obviously dead, but honest to god, how do these parents think that’s ok? IT’S. NOT. O.K. (put on a certain tone of voice here) In my day, kids were with families and then skied and if they didn’t ski, they were playing tag on snow banks by the parking lot but their parents THOUGHT they were skiing. We had very limited choices. Ski or be eating lunch. Or pee. Yes, we could do that.
Some things change and some things stay the same. Skiing is still an awesome thing to do with your kids … and it’s still a ton of work to pull off as a parent. And I will never sit in the chalet for 3 hours again. Pretty near killed me.