NEW YEAR BLOG – January 2021
When we rang in the New Year (it seems like only yesterday), I felt optimistic about 2021 but the events of the first week blew me away. I’m an optimistic person and I am trying to remain that way. It is hard to do with shocking news arriving each day. The rise in the pandemic numbers, political and social unrest are fueling my disappointment in this new year. What does the rest of the year have in store for us?
Rather than focus on the negative things, I am trying to do some fun things. Just last week I returned to the ski slopes after the early closure last March. I picked two bluebird (clear blue skies) days to go skiing, and it helped my frame of mind.
Because of the pandemic, skiing isn’t what it used to be. This year it takes a little more effort and preparation. We were unable to get season passes when they became available. They sold out by the time I got online. One of the nice things about skiing here in Santa Fe, you can ski for free when you reach the age of seventy-two. Both Anita and I are in that category. We usually pay a small amount of money for a pass to wear around the neck and then you don’t have to go to the ticket window each time you want to ski. There is a whole new pricing structure this season, and we have to pay fifteen dollars upon making a reservation. Even with that season pass, you have to pay fifteen dollars for a day of skiing.
But this year, whether you have a season pass or are buying a day ticket, you have to make a reservation online before even setting out for the mountain. When you get there, you have to put your ski boots on in the parking lot at your car. At our ski area, you have to walk from where you parked up several series of steep steps. Then, you have to go to the ticket window where you can show a barcode to the clerk in the sales window to scan and they hand you a day ticket and attachment for your coat. We get a locker every season, however, this year the only things we can put in there are our skis and poles, no boots, shoes, hats, packs, etc.
When you ride the chair lifts, and throughout the resort, you have to socially-distance. If you are with a group of two, three, or four people you have your own pod and can ride the chair together. If you are alone, as I was, you ride by yourself. This year there’s no yelling, “Single!” to find one or more people to ride the chair with. You also have to wear your mask on the slopes and throughout the resort. There is very limited access to inside the lodge. They have tents and tables for people to sit outside.
Yeah, I know—it sounds tough. Believe me, I’m not complaining. I feel very fortunate that I can do this. There are people sick, dying, starving, and just getting by so I feel lucky. I feel blessed that at seventy-five years old I am still able to ski, even though I don’t know how long that will last.
The whole experience gets better as soon as you slide off the lift at the top and you come down the mountain. That’s what it is all about for me. I love to ski. My first run always reminds me of my late friend Leo. He loved skiing and was more passionate about it than I. He usually skied a hundred days a year. Sometimes when I coming down the mountain, I say to myself, “This one’s for you Leo.”
Leo, my wife, and several other friends skied many happy days together on Crested Butte Mountain in South Western Colorado. Now, I live in Santa Fe and ski at our local resort about a thirty-minute drive into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. I miss my Crested Butte ski buddies. I usually ski with my wife, Anita, but this year she has given up the sport because of the virus restrictions and the extra effort. Nevertheless, skiing is something you can easily do by yourself and I don’t mind that.
What I get from a couple of hours of skiing is worth the effort and every cent. The five to ten-minute ride up on the lift on a sunshiny day is a wonderful time to contemplate things, life, the world, your work… I sometimes work out problems with things I’m writing while I ride chair lifts. It’s also a great time to admire the scenery, breathe in the pure mountain air at ten or eleven thousand feet (a little more difficult this year with a mask on).
Skiing down the mountain is the most exhilarating part. Things and people move by quickly. My body invigorates by the movement of my hips as I make turns, some short, some long ones across the slope. A run from top to bottom can usually be shorter than the lift ride.
I don’t foresee a lot of skiing for me this season. The big snowstorms have failed to materialize. But I’m glad I have it as a diversion.
I wish all of you a Happy New Year! Let’s hope our country and the world settles down, the virus gets under control, and eventually goes away. Maybe our lives will return to the way they were and maybe they won’t. Hopefully, we can return to something close to the way it used to be.