On one bright sunshiney day last January, our family skied with our good friends. We aimed our skis into Snowbowl’s East Bowl without talking about it first. A few turns in I whispered that it was my kids’ first time in the bowls. It was their kids’ first time too. All four tiny humans held the tips of their skis together, their little quads straining against gravity as they talked and sang their way through the deep snow exactly like kids who grow up skiing together every weekend.
And then it all went south in the East. One child had to poop. One was suddenly unable to turn. One went too fast and out of ear shot. One crashed into another and tears rolled down the mountain with rogue skis.
All four parents sweated through it, taking deep breathes, taking turns with each others’ kids. Straining our backs, swallowing our swears. Using encouraging, empathetic words. And the inevitable statement of fact: there is only one way to the Shirley Temple down there.
It took damn near forever to get off that slope. And then we hit a narrow trail through the woods that I swear was uphill. I am pretty sure it was my idea to make the cut over to Longhorn, thinking it would be a better run out for the tired offspring. My optimism was an empty hope. The adults lined up, each with a child holding on to a pole as we trudged through deep, sticky snow, literally dragging our moaning kids to Longhorn. They moaned all the way down.
We made it, laughing into the flats and unclipping from our bindings. Ever since that day “East Bowl” is a thing we say to each other. You know, if something feels like quick sand, like a shit show, like too much to handle at one time: we hold hands and EASTBOWL our way through it.
This last week included a broken appliance and floor, a conflict, an allergic reaction, a sleepless night, a death. This last week included a fixed appliance and floor, a resolution, a recovery, a restful day and plans for a whole lot of family to gather in eastern Montana this weekend to celebrate a life.
The thing is, there is probably at least one moment every day when we find ourselves skiing a pitch, wishing we weren’t there. We might fall hard or have to poop or make poor choices by not listening when our brilliant, usually-right mother yells STOP! We might feel angry about it, we might sit down and cry about it. But eventually we square our shoulders up with the fall line and link one turn into another turn. We know there are other skiers on that hill too. And they care about us. They want to give us a hug, help us get to the valley floor and buy us an age-appropriate beverage. We needn’t look beyond the ten feet in front of us because after we slide those ten feet, we can focus on the next ten. All the way to the end of the run and into the beginning of the next run, supported by the earth and each other. #eastbowl
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*disclaimer* Just in case somebody who knows Snowbowl sees that photo and thinks “that’s not the east bowl!”, you are correct. It is the outhouse trees. I couldn’t find a snap of the east bowl!