Friday, February 27, 2015

Vail Mountain

Vail Mountain is a very special place for me.

I have countless memories on that mountain.  To take a line from The Sound of Music, "That's my mountain -- I was brought up on it."  And, yes, I was brought up on Vail mountain.

The winter of 2013-14 was the first year since I was three that I hadn't skied on Vail mountain.  I was pregnant with Tracey Ann until the middle of January, then I was recovering from childbirth... and then, I didn't get a ski pass for the year, nor did I really want to spend a big, long length of time away from my baby to go skiing.  Plus, I was exclusively breastfeeding, so I would have either had to pump, or come down to nurse... it just wasn't worth it.

This ski season, I went skiing for the first time just a few weeks ago.  My first day on Vail mountain in almost two years.  As I stood in lines for the chair lifts and gondola, I found myself remembering so many beautiful memories on Vail mountain.  My first time skiing this mountain in nearly two years -- where would I ski first?
  • Maybe LOST BOY, because that was ALWAYS my family's first run, for decades, we would always take the Vista Bahn, and then Chair 3 and start with LOST BOY.
  • Maybe CAPPUCCINO, my first ever "favorite run", when I was a kid.  My friends and I would zip in a out of the trees.
  • Perhaps BLUE OX,  my favorite run as an adult, as I became a more accomplished skier.  A run my cousin and I race down almost looking like synchronized skiers.
  • Oh, but what about the BACK BOWLS?  It wasn't until I moved out here that I discovered the joy of the BACK BOWLS.  POPPYFIELDS would be wonderful, and less crowded.  I love POPPYFIELDS.
  • Or maybe SUN-UP BOWL, which has proven to be the best way for me to avoid crowds in recent years.
  • Then, there is RIVA RIDGE -- the black diamond ski run where my husband asks me to marry him.  I would definitely HAVE to ski RIVA.  Did I mention, this is also the ski run where my dad proposed to my mom?
But no... none of these would be my first run.

After nearly two years away, there was no question, my first run had to be NORTHWOODS, the beautiful run where my sister's earthly remains remain.  My sister Tracey was not laid to her final resting place in a casket, in a cemetary, witha  headstone for anyone and everyone to see her name and the dates she graced this earth.

Her wishes were to be cremated and her ashes scattered on Vail mountain, on her favorite ski run, where she could be one with the mountains, trees, animals, skiers, and breeze.  Her name is not engraved anywhere... but a tiny charm, the size of a dime adorns one small spot, of one pine tree, at the base of which, her ashes where scattered, twelve years ago.

Each year, I wonder if the charm will still be there -- winters certainly take their toll on Vail mountain.  But, thus far, the charm has always remained.  The only time it hasn't been there was when I've gotten mixed up, and been looking for it on the wrong tree.

I'm not able to visit my sister's grave and leave flowers... instead, I ski NORTHWOODS, almost every time I ski Vail Mountain, and I stop at Tracey's charm, and I pay my respects.

I don't go through every day in deep grief over my sister's death.  Time has lessened the pain of loss.  But then, on a beautiful, joyful ski day, I ask myself which ski run I will take first, and the answer rushes in with a flood of emotion -- NORTHWOODS.  I haven't visited my sister's charm marker in nearly two years... before anything else, I have to go to NORTHWOODS.  I haven't been to the charm since before my daughter was... well, conceived, and then born... the daughter I named after this sister, whose ashes were scattered there.

The first run had to be NORTHWOODS.
The charm was still there.

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