Early last month, we fulfilled one of Shanthala’s dreams, getting Maya to ski.
Shanthala has wanted to take Maya skiing for a long time. I consider skiing, especially downhill skiing as something of a luxury, at least in our case. The amount of resources consumed in acquiring and maintaining that skill seems decadent in an age of global warming, especially since we don’t live particularly close to snow. My warm tropical soul shivers and shrivels at the prospect of extended periods in frigid snow, and I don’t think Shanthala feels differently. So, I’ve not hankered to take Maya skiing. But, one Thursday afternoon last month, we found ourselves on the road to Lake Tahoe for an extended weekend in the snow.
We borrowed snow weather gloves and jackets from a neighbor and acquired the reminder in Tahoe. We stayed down in South Lake Tahoe, a place we don’t particularly attach ourselves to, thanks to the crowds and the ugly sight of the casinos across the state border. But, if Maya didn’t particularly care for the experience, we didn’t want to find ourselves stranded with nothing else to do in a ski only hamlet.
We headed up the popular Heavenly Ski slopes in a gondola the first day. I wasn’t sure what we’d do, but I thought that we might try our hand at tubing and sledding. The day was a blast. The crowds were relatively light. Maya had a lot of fun doing both activities.
Here is a video of our tubing and sledding experience. The first snippet is of Maya tubing down a slope, the second of my tubing down and the remaining two snippets are of Maya sledding.
Her enthusiasm for the snow stoked (helped no doubt by the contagion from her mom), Maya wanted to ski!
Not having ever skiied before, both Shanthala and Maya wanted to sign up for ski lessons. The only option for Maya it seemed was a full day lesson. We had to drop her off at the gondola station by 9 am and pick her up at the same spot at 4 in the evening. I was unsure how she might deal with the situation. A whole day away from us, doing something that she had never done before? When I enquired about the youngest age for which they’d accept children for ski lessons, I was told four years. Shanthala pooh-poohed my fears and confidently signed herself and Maya up to whole day lessons. Anxious, I decided to keep myself free and available in case Maya bailed out in the middle. I told the school that I’d pick her up at the top, after her lessons were done rather than picking her up at the bottom of the slopes.
I went up the mountain a little after lunch to see how mom and daughter were faring. I was happy that my phone hadn’t rung so far with the school asking me to pick my panicked daughter up.
Shanthala was right. Maya was thrilled to be in the school, learning to ski. She seemed completely unfazed by a long separation from us. She was a little upset to see me, as if scared that I’d mess her fun up. Once she realized that I wasn’t there to pick her up immediately, she was happy to see me. Over the course of an hour or so, I shot these snippets of Maya’s first day learning to ski.
When I went over to the adult section of the mountain, I found the mother tentative and skiing nervously. She seemed to be taking it all in her stride, however. I shot two videos of her, the first when I encountered her on the slopes the first time in the afternoon and the second, towards the end of her day. Maya had finished her school by then and was clamoring to go to a soft patch of snow to build a snowman, impatient and aghast that I’d consider spending time shooting a movie of her mother skiing.
Maya was exhausted when we came down. She loves ice cream and can’t understand what cold weather has to do with not eating one. So, we ended the day with a scoop of ice cream from the store by the gondola.
With that, she was ready for a round at a local playground on the shores of Lake Tahoe. She jumped into the frigid waters dressed in just her underclothes, making all the moms in the park shiver just at the sight of her. She really showed them when she continued playing out of water in the wet clothes! No, dad WAS insisting that she change into something warm, but she flatly refused till she was done playing.
Maya was peeved that I had picked her up and separated her from her friends at the school. Papa, she said, next time I want to come down with my amigos. So, we signed her up for another full day at the ski school. Shanthala signed up for another half day of instruction. I had a bad case of headache and stayed down. Papa, Maya said when she came home, I learnt how to make a pizza wedge with my skiis and stop.
All in all, a successful first skiing trip. Even an accident that held up traffic for over an hour and a half couldn’t dim the spirits of Shanthala and Maya. When I read Maya a skiing poem, from a new book of poems that we picked up from the library, Maya said that she wanted to ski like it says in the poem.
Skiing is like being
part of a mountain.
On the early morning run
before the crowds begin,
my skis make
as they plough
through untouched powder
to leave fresh tracks
in the blue white snow.
My body bends and turns
to catch each
bend and turn
the mountain takes;
and I am the mountain
and the mountain is me – Skiing by Bobbi Katz, from the book Opening Days