Friday, December 30, 2011

Beauty on the Slopes

    A new snow fall over night has clothed the slopes.   Although it was not enough to enable opening new slopes it did enhance the beauty of the surroundings.   It is also encouragement for the geezers to show up.   Today was the first day there was a quorum of geezers.   At coffee this morning there were at least seven tough old geezer skiers present.   There were the triple Bob's, Pat, Gene, Larry and myself.   We are not the beauty on the slopes, but we do add a colorful display of characters who enjoy the surroundings along with the pleasure of cruising the area.
    Although the slopes were occasionally crowded, I still was able to observe the play of shadows on the snow and colorful groups of  ski racers in training.    Conversation at coffee today drifted into laments about the ills of some of our associates and in some cases the loss of loved ones.   Beyond our concern, however, we moved on to acknowledging that each day was there to be enjoyed and be thankful for.   Living in the now is a great way to be and it inspires in me to look each day for the beauty around me and in the people I meet.   Life in the now is good!!

Racers in Training

Shadows on the Snow

Snow, Shadows and Hills

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What Is Better Than Skiing?

Geezers at Coffee
When the ski season is in progress, I can't think of anything better to do than ski.   And that means to make to the best of each ski day, whatever the conditions.   However, today I had to rethink that attitude.
   I arrived at the ski slope anticipating at least some reasonable conditions for the first runs of the day.   Much to my surprise everything was scratchy and icy.   I was determined to make the best of it.   Get those edges into the ice and maintain control!  After an hour or so I'll admit to some discouragement.  Time for an early coffee break and my apple fritter.
   That's when the day got more satisfying.   At the lodge I was greeted with laughter and derision by two of my geezer friends Joe and Gene.   They had wisely halted their assault on the hill and were swapping stories of days past and days to come.   I was happy to join them and since the slopes were so absurdly grim we spent a good three quarters of an hour regaling each other with tales of ski days past.
   A coffee break with geezers better than skiing?   I guess so today!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Skier's Lament

Skiers Lament

Twas three days before Christmas with slopes all green.
Not one single snowflake was to be seen.
A few slopes had a thin coat of snow.
And some hardy skiers were into the flow.

The snow makers were poised to go into action
But the temperature balmy was a distraction.
Hope upon hope that freezing weather will come,
Without the melting of noontime sun.

Forlorn groomers are parked by the wayside,
In hopes of huge snow mounds to ride.
Although skimobiles often navigate the hill,
Four wheelers are the favorite still.

Flags fly high on Welcome Center poles,
Displaying their representative roles.
Country, state and company on display.
Come see ski with us and stay.

Bringing good cheer to those in need
Is the goal of Saturdays Food drive indeed.
A can or two of food secures a ticket free
And warms the heart of you and me.

Come one come all and share in your wealth.
Contribute your largess to the community’s health.
Although I lament this seasons late start,
I wish you all the very best from the bottom of my heart.

Let's Make Snow
Welcome Center


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Me and My Shadow

    Another early season day on the ski slopes.   With no grooming and an overnight freeze the surface was very firm and rough.   After several runs my feet felt like they were vigorously massaged from the vibrations in travelling over undulations of the surface.   No matter how carefully I edged, I was not able to hold the skis in a comfortable traverse with limited side slip.   I guess the expert racers would have loved this very fast surface.   This kind of day calls for an occasional halt on each run and diversion of attention to other things.   (And a long coffee break to read the morning paper).
    In the last few months I have routinely carried my camera with me.  This has helped me to be more observant of my surroundings.    Perhaps I have a latent bent to look at things with the eye of an artist. I have become intrigued with shadows.   So today when I took one of my breaks on the hill I had a chance to commune with my own shadow as well as the sun and shade on the slope.   (It doesn't take much to amuse me).
Me and My Shadow

Shadows on the Slope

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Laced Ski Boots

The Good Old Days?
   I continue to muse about evolution in technology.   One technology that seems to have stagnated is the means for closure of footwear.     Notice that the most common technique for fastening footwear to our feet is a lacing.    For thousands of years we have used shoe laces made from a multitude of materials.   There is evidence of the use of laces as early as 3500 BC.   In the ancient Middle East sandals were the most common footwear.  However in the temperate climates laced footwear was used with a more complete covering of the foot.   Although the material for the laces has improved from natural materials such as leather thongs or vegetable fibers to fabric laces with improved ends, the same basic use of laces prevails.    Apparently in 1790 the modern shoe lacing procedure was invented in England as a replacement for shoe buckles.  Native peoples, however, consistently used a moccasin shoe or laced foot coverings.   Even though we have invented Velcro closures, the ordinary shoe lace remains dominant for almost all of our footwear.
    The notable exception in sports equipment is the use of buckles for alpine ski boots.   However, it appears that laces still work well for snowboard boots.   I am certainly pleased that alpine ski boots have evolved from the leather laced boots I first used in the 1960's.   I vividly remember a spring ski day at Mad River Glen in the 60's when my leather laced boots were saturated with water and no amount of lace tightening would give me any reasonable control of my skis.   Fortunately that was my last day with laced leather ski boots.   New plastic boots with adjustable buckle enclosures became the normal boot for the future ski days.
    I wonder what other technologies have prevailed as long as shoe laces.    Does anyone have any suggestions?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wimpy Start

     Today was the first day of the 2011-2012 ski season at Greek Peak.   The only way I could characterize it is, a wimpy beginning.   Most of the first two weeks of December has been warm with essentially no lasting snow.   Only in the past week have we had enough cold weather for snow making.   Enough snow making to open one slope from top to bottom.      Today's surface was mostly groomed frozen granular that skied fast.   Fortunately the crowd was small and conditions did not very quickly deteriorate.
    A noticeable improvement at the top of Elysian Fields was a new Ski Patrol building.  (See photo below).   I expect this will enable a patroller to be stationed at the top of the hill to respond quickly to an emergency.
 New Ski Patrol Building 
    If there was a roll call for Geezer Skiers I am happy to say there was a respectable representation.  The following would have been present for duty:  Andy, Pat, Bob(no poles), Harold,  and Gerry.   Also maybe three others whose names escape me at the moment.   We all played cautiously in view of the conditions.   Meanwhile we are looking forward to improvement of the conditions with new snow making and some natural snow.   Let us hope that the quality of the season improves as we move into the new year.
     Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Honoring the 90+ Geezers

    I have the pleasure of playing tennis on almost a weekly basis with a group of geezers.  Some are near my age but at least three of our group are much older with a couple in the 90's.   I particularly admire the 90 year olds who still have the vigor, enthusiasm and competitive spirit for the game.   Our doubles play is mostly for the joy of the game but we all  like to do our best to win the set.   Our 90 year olds may not move as fast as they once did but they still have the strokes that have been honed over the decades they have been playing.   They continue to be my heroes and give me the hope to be out on the court  a decade or so from now.  My partners Carman, Alan and Paul for the past week are shown below (none of them are 90!).   Alan, who is still recovering from hip surgery was moving better this time and Carman continues to be my partner in taking on Paul and Alan.   And we hold our own.
Carman, Alan, and Paul -Second Set Score 4-4

    In reflection on living to be over 90 it is good to do so if the quality of life remains high.   This past week one of my former and long time colleagues at the university passed away at age 94.    Up until a few years ago he remained active enough to continue to square dance - a life long pleasure in his life.   Recent years were not so kind to him, but his loving wife along with additional caregivers gave him a good quality of care and comfort in a home setting.   A blessing to have expired in his own home.  

     As I age, I am surprised about how many of my acquaintances and colleagues at the university and in the community have reached or exceeded 90.  I enjoy their stories and wisdom and admire their continued contributions to the richness of our society.   Would it be that we all could age as gracefully as these folks.