That first time on the ski lift, I posed my body just right so that the chair would scoop me up instead of knock me flat. I’d practiced the pose in my mind a thousand times, and now – it was time.
The seat caught me and swung me high until I was flying up the side of the mountain over the trees. A silent, white wonderland lay below, evergreens heavy with snow.
A few skiers were already braving the just-open runs, slipping through inches of fresh powder from last night’s snowfall. The air crackled with cold and sucked the breath from my lungs.
I gasped to pull in more air, felt lightheaded and a touch nauseous. And then the mountain jay called.
He soared overhead, peered down at the lift chair, and then swooped ahead to the next lift pole where he waited, head cocked. Listening? What did he hear?
I strained to hear it, too, but — there was nothing. No sound. Only the crystal white of a world heavy with snow, cold air in high altitude.
I pulled in another breath, felt the air push through my sinus cavities then tingle down into my lungs. I had never felt air so sharp with cold, so painful, so exhiliarating. And with the air, came the scent of pine and smoke.
A heady feeling, soaring over the snow whiteness, green spires pointing toward an everblue sky, sparkling crystals of moisture drifting down from unseen clouds. Freedom. So peaceful, so silent. I could have ridden forever.
But then, my fingers began to numb. Up ahead I saw the sign, and then the little house that signified ‘time to get off!’ My body tensed. I scooted my bottom to the edge of the chair and pointed my ski tips up.
The trip down the mountain was exciting, too. But I remember best that first cold, silent morning glide above a winter wonderland.