Tuesday, March 1, 2011

When Snow Takes on a New Meaning

I've always loved the extremities of nature. Some say (mostly jokingly) that I can only go on five-thousand-franc holidays, but this is so not true. A view from a mountain top (hilltop in Switzerland ;)) or the breeze through the lake is enough to make my day. Make it a snowy slope or a tropical island and you have me thrilled and virtually high with ecstasy.

But, incredible as that sounds, it can get even better than that if we're actually taming those elements. The view from the top of a volcano is stunning. But it becomes an unforgettable experience if you climb for hours to get there and race all the other climbers to be the first to glimpse the sun rising on the horizon! And sledging can be huge fun, as much as a vicious snowball fight. But when you're making the snow your element, turning and slowing and going faster than the wind, when you feel as if you'd been born to conquer all the slopes in the world, when you feel that you could walk the highways of the Alps forever without tiring -- then it becomes something more. Then snow takes on a new meaning.

I've never been quite sporty in the strong sense of the word. I've always been doing some sports, some times more frequently and dedicatedly than others, I've never quite slowed down. But I've never been that adept at sports either. I can swim (some say the sight reminds them  of a dead ray...) and I usually enjoy it immensely. But I'd be the last in any competition, even against dead rays I'm afraid. I can skate, but I can only go around and around and my friends have to grab me at the end of the day and drag me off the ice. (If I was ever to skate in the UK I'd be in trouble for I can only turn left! ^^) So I had my reservations when we set off for the slopes last Monday morning.

I said nothing, because I had my beautiful new ski jacket on and we had to wake up early, so telling the guys that the 100 euros we were spending on my training might have just been spent on ice cream was not the best idea. So I kept silent and thinking that anyway, I'd do my best to perform better than a rolling boulder. I was not afraid, I just didn't believe that I'd ever go beyond the boundaries of the training area (a 5' slope...). But I was determined to enjoy every bit of it and support my hubby who took the whole adventure a lot more seriously.

And then it happened. Our instructor, this incredibly tanned guy with a constant fatherly smile and the most charming means to motivate anyone (using said smile and a good number of fibs about just how well you fared as he jerked you from below all that snow), told us after the first slide that we only had to formulate our intentions in our head and our body would follow. I was still in doubt, given the fact that my body had never met such a long stretch of snow, separated from it only by two thin skis of the most slippery material on Earth. But I found the thought quite comforting: if I fall I can blame my body and I would still seem a smart if not very sporty girl. So I gave it a try. And I finished my second slide skidding right before all the folks queuing up, with a huge grin. Needless to say I almost fell a moment later, since we had not learned how to skid and stop as yet. But it felt so good. As if I had been born with skis on my feet. (A morbid thought, that.) From then on the only constraint on my learning was that my instincts usually took me a step ahead of the course, which led me to a couple more falls and reminded me constantly to write a letter of thanks to the manufacturers of my helmet.

On the fourth day my friends were having difficulty taking me off that amazingly long blue slope and only their ardent claims that they would not come with me for another slide (and my fear of getting in -- and, more precisely, out of  the ski lift!) persuaded me that it was indeed time to go home...

I loved it! Not the speed, as I'm quite slow and careful still, but the feeling that I can tame these dangerous slopes and enjoy the scenery without feeling awkward or out of place. I felt one with them, one with nature, feeling its heartbeat and taking the dizzying volumes of mountain below my feet as a call to ride it and stroke its huge back with my skis. I can't even begin to explain. As I've said I'm happiest when I'm exploring what beauties nature has to offer. And I love doing it blending in. In water I swim, on volcanoes I climb -- and amidst the snowy peaks I ski. ;)

Want the same experience?
We learned here (from Papi!) and skied at La Vormaine and at Grand Montet.
(Unfortunately, I'm not affiliated with any of the above. XD)

Oh, I can't wait to put on those unbelievably big boots again! Maybe this weekend...! =)

Have a nice week, guys.
I'll be back with some more stories soon. ;)

your fleur

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