Tales from the Lift Line II: Seeing is Believing

ChairInFog

When Seeing Is Believing

By Mary-Colleen Jenkins

As our chair passed over the run, we heard a little boy’s wail across the mountain, “I. Can’t. See.  ANYTHING!”

Heavy fog shrouded the ski area, muffling every sound except for his voice, which rang out clearly. “NO! I won’t! I can’t SEE!”

The boy and his father, fuzzy dark figures, were on the steepest part of the run. The father patiently coached his son, his voice low and muffled. I could imagine what he was saying, “Just one little turn. Just trust me, one turn at a time.” The kid was having none of it.

We sailed on into a blanket of nothingness, the lift shack invisible until we were practically on top of it.

After offloading we stood for a moment taking in the scene. Skiers only a few feet away were blurs of color. The terrain had no definition; the snow was just a bluer shade of white than the fog.

That morning we had joked about using our daughter’s orange, neon pants as a beacon in the fog. Nicknames flew: Cheeto Pants, Orange Pants, The Girl with the Orange Legs. Each was met with a plaintive, “N-o-o-o!” But one stuck. Every time the family wicked out of sight into the fog and then dipped back into view again, I thought, “Ah, there’s Orange Pants.”

Bad weather days are particularly good community days on the mountain. Parents are more patient with the doubts of their kids. Strangers share tips on the lift about which runs are the best for the conditions and which runs should be avoided. People are more quick to stop and check on skiers who have wiped out. You observe everything more keenly, and follow your partners more closely as they choose their lines. When that becomes difficult, you look to see what other skiers are doing. In the end, though, you learn to trust your feet more than you trust your eyes.

As the day drew to a close, word rippled through the lift lines that the weather had finally broken. Catching those last chairs would reward us with a glimpse of the sun. At the top our family gathered briefly to discuss our route down to the bottom, and then we took off. As I made my last adjustments before following them, I overheard two men discussing their own route. They didn’t sound familiar with the area. Just as I half-turned to make a suggestion, one of them said, “I guess we should just follow Orange Pants over there.”

Winter weekends call Mary-Colleen out to the snow, but during the week she can be found warm and dry and working with words. Jenkins is a freelance editor, writing coach, and author of two blogs, Too Fond of Books and Along the Branches. You can find her on Twitter at @EmceeReads.

Other “Tales from the Lift Line”. . .

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