“And A Bowl Full of Mush”

Remember “Goodnight Moon,” that charming story book for small children? When just a wee lad, “Goodnight Moon” was a favorite book. A rocking chair, warm lap, and “Goodnight Moon” were a winning combination. I tended to find the “bowl full of mush” part rather funny. Hysterically funny, from time to time. You could say it was my favorite part of the book. And today, even though there was no moon, I found a bowl full of mush hysterically funny.

While the lifts ran, I logged nearly 750,000 vertical feet in 33 days of skiing. After all that, you might think I’d be ready to shift gears to summer sports. But no. Ski season proper has been over for twenty days now. I’ve put in six days on the slopes. Yesterday I even succumbed to a bit of depression when I realized the rate of snowmelt. Skiing remains exciting; my appetite increases daily. Work skinning up makes the down trip exponentially more rewarding. So whenever possible, I chuck my  big, black Volkl skis in the car and chug up the hill to Big Mountain.

From the parking lot, I have over two thousand vertical feet to climb. The heels of my Fritschi bindings make a nice knock each time they come to rest on the heel risers. I try to maintain a rhythm, matching heel clacks and breaths. Sometimes I count my steps, but rarely continue past two hundred. Clouds run back and forth around the sun, like restless children around a parent absorbed in a lengthly conversation. Shadows come and go. Cold, stoic wind swirls about. An overbearing sun beats down, a cancer eating my snow. Unaffected by this, I move steadily uphill.

All this is to say skiing makes me happy. Since it is indeed spring here in the northern hemisphere, warm temperatures have come north – like the snowbirds (I believe there is some connection between the two.) Warmth, of course, turns snow to mush.

After a short rest at the summit, I descended Ptarmigan Bowl. That is how, once again, a bowl of mush made me hysterically happy. A sort of euphoria overpowered me and I careened down drunk with love for skiing, speed, snow, and the whole environment. Wind made my eyes water. Thick wet snow spattered over my boots. Wind roared a beautiful song in my ears. I reached the bottom of Chair 5 – halfway down the mountain – feeling higher than any summit. The chair seats were wet with last night’s snow, so Dane and I settled for a lofty perch atop the lift itself.

Despite a black, malevolent-looking group of clouds drenching the valley and moving toward my sunny bowl of mush, I needed more skiing. Rain or no rain, I could ski. Rain or no rain, the snow would be soft. Rain or no rain, I’d be happy. I stuck my skins on, stuffed my coat into the pack and got back in the skin track leading to the summit.


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