Sunday, March 12, 2023

Generations of Skiers

    I had a delightful call from my son yesterday.  Nice to have him checking up on me as he exited his ski area to drive home ahead of the traffic down Little Cottonwood Canyon highway in Utah.  As one might expect he is the second generation skier for our family although we all started together in 1968 at Greek Peak.   As you might expect he was a fast learner along with his siblings and moved on to PSIA certification and working as an instructor.  He lives the grand life of Utah skiing in his retirement! 

    By the time they were out of diapers his children were getting ski instruction and became expert skiers over the years.  One sisters  children likewise have become expert skiers.  On that note in my conversation with my son I caught up on the ski journeys of some of these grandchildren.  One of his daughters is now instructing weekends at Bristol Mountain.  There was also exciting news of a nephew and my grandchild competing in what I would call extreme skiing taking gut wrenching lines down the mountain.  Scares the pants off me to watch the videos of some of his runs.  Obviously I am a proud grandparent and am delighted to hear that he placed as high as third recently.   He is a big kid.  Well over six feet so he has a big frame to work with but it may be a lot to move around as he negotiates some really gnarly terrain.

    As the next generation moves on to marriage and family the new spouses have a lot of pressure to become skiers.    So far those that are continuing to ski have had the good fortune of willing spouses prepared to pick up the sport if they have not already done so.  Thus the generations continue to have a pattern to continue engagement.   I do wonder if they will ever become geezer skiers!  

    I suspect that skiing is only one example of how families carry on certain traditions.   In terms of sports it can be a variety of activities.   It may be golf, tennis, running or something else.   And beyond the recreational activities there can the serious endeavors of different careers.   I am an engineer and have seen this career choice passed on to several of the children I have parented.   A son and one daughter have already spawned three engineers.    As a former college advisor I distinctly recall many of my students who decided to go to medical school came from families with generations of physicians.  

    I would conclude that generational influence can be both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing when it gives opportunity but can be a curse to those who march to a different drummer.   I say let everyone find their own bliss and it need not be the family tradition. 

    

Friday, March 3, 2023

Ski Lift Therapy

    A ski lift ride with a stranger often can be quite interesting.    There is something about the isolation of two strangers on the chair that can spark exchanges that wouldn't happen in other circumstances.  I must confess I enjoy drawing people out with leading questions.  Often this leads into confessional statements that make me feel like a priest or a therapist.  Most of the time I am leading the conversation but occasionally my companion will inquire about me.

    Because many of my geezer companions were not in attendance today, I had many solo rides and some new companions who had interesting stories to tell.  Here are three of them that speak to therapy sessions on the lift. 

    My first encounter was with a 52 year old gentleman that had grown up in Canada.  In our conversation about skiing we drifted off into family matters.  He revealed that he was a widower of seven years and was raising two youngsters after the untimely car crash death of his wife.  He confessed that he was unlikely to ever get married again.  This comment came after he heard a bit of my story of marrying a second time and even having a second family in my senior years.  My thought is that maybe he will reconsider his reluctance to marry again after hearing of my 40 years of blessed reprieve.  

    My second encounter was with a tall blonde lady of undetermined age with a massive head of hair.  No helmet but I didn't comment on that!  I'm a bit adamant that helmets are essential for skiers!  She revealed that she was from Wisconsin and had moved to a friends place in the area when covid struck in 2019.  She now plans to return to Wisconsin for a reason that I didn't hear.  I have visited Wisconsin so I asked her what she thought of upstate New York.  Her's was a positive response and we mutually agreed both our areas have a lot to offer.  Somehow we drifted off to discussing of our heritage.  I had asked whether she might be Scandinavian.  Turns out she had a German, Irish, Czech lineage.  I shared with her that we had some things in common since I have a German, Irish and Dutch lineage.  I sensed there was some nostalgia about her return to Wisconsin.

    My third encounter was with a lady from our area who was a retired surgical nurse.  She opened our conversation with the comment that she was having trouble finding time to ski due to her impending move to Virginia Beach.   I never determined whether her spouse had died or there was a divorce, but it seems she was on her own with coping with a transition to a new life,  She had angst about leaving ski country and an established networks to be with children and grandchildren in a new location.  Her son has bought a house for her in Virginia Beach so she is well cared for physically but still there is the emotional adjustment.  As we left the lift I wished her a good run and said that I was sure she would succeed in her transition.   

    I would comment that this piece strays a bit from the skiing focus per se.  However skiing is more that the physical endeavor.   There are the other dimensions of social and cultural interactions.   Actually I enjoy my role as counselor!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Loose Ends

  Yesterday I missed skiing because of the rain and spent  time in my Cornell office preparing for a visit from the archivists who will decide what materials from my past will be saved for the Cornell archives.   It has been 27 years since I retired as an emeritus professor so I guess this is a loose end I need to tie up before it is too late.  All this got me to thinking about the loose ends of life that come at us in one way or another.  Things happen and we leave some things dangling to be picked up later and finished off.  These things can take all kinds of forms from the metaphorical to relational to the physical.  When I told my wife that I was going to write this blog she asked me if I thought I had a lot of loose ends to deal with.  I assured her that in the relational area all is good and we in our marriage are certainly in sync all the way around.  However, I do find that there are always things hanging out there I would like to get done.  Perhaps that is good because it gives meaning to the future for useful engagement.

    This ski season however has seemed to create a lots of loose ends in my geezer skier community.   Too many of our crew have had difficulties that have limited participation in our favorite  pastime.   To me it is a loose end when we no longer have full participation in the social life on the slopes.

    So to wrap this up I have the sad requirement to comment on what has happened to my friend Tim that requires surgery on his shoulder within the next few days.   An unfortunate collision earlier in the season damaged the rotator cuff in his right shoulder.   Since then he has been soldiering along on the slopes in spite of being unable to lift his right arm above his waist.   A recent MRI shows that this is not the best thing for his long term health.  He hasn't a metaphorical loose end but a physical one of ruptured tendons!  Thank heavens his surgeon says if he gets to it now he can repair the damage!  All of us in the geezer community wish him the best of all care and success in taking care of the problem.   We look forward to meeting with him during his recovery and keeping the relational connections with the skiing community.   In my most previous blog I wrote about transitions.   This will be one for a while but we will not let it deter holding things together for the future.

    From time to time  I have heard the expression "I am at loose ends".  Probably meaning one doesn't know where they are going.     We know our friend is not in that situation.  He is moving on and facing his issue and we know he will be the better for it.  Likewise the advice for all of us when we find ourselves at loose ends, it is time to suck it up and move forward.  May I exemplify that in my own behavior.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Transitions

    A few days ago our geezer skier group got together for a noon lunch at Greek Peak's Trax restaurant.  Our gathering included both active skiers and some who were in hiatus from the slopes for one reason or another.  In the past we have often had 10 to 15 in our gathering.  Only eight were able to make it that day.

    It seems our little fun group of Tough Old Geezer Skiers is going through a transition.  A few years ago when we would have our annual lunch meeting in March we could field and many as 30 in attendance.   Of course the covid pandemic kiboshed recent get togethers.   The march of time drives a lot of the transitions.  Health concerns also exacerbates participation as well.   Thankfully many of us are still able to hit the slopes almost at will.   However, the day will come for all us when we will have to make the transition to other endeavors. 

    How we make our transitions reveals our resiliency and character.   Gracefully making exits might be the mark of a life well lived.   Several of our group have seen the inevitable and have gracefully changed to life away from the slopes.  I admire their resiliency and see them as a model for the transition I will have to make some day.  

    The idea of transition transcends the matter of skiing.    In life we go through a multitude of transitions.  We are in flow from birth to toddler to teen to young adult to  maturity and old age.   Along the way we will face many issues of both success and failure.   How well we deal with the vagaries of these changes will relate to our happiness and contributions to human kind.   Perhaps the best we can hope for as a legacy is for our friends and family to say he/she lived a good life.

    In closing I want to assure the reader I am not being melancholy!  In my senior years I am more content than ever in living with the changes each day.   Savoring the latter years is a great gift from the wisdom gained in the past.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Go Fishing?

     I took the garbage out early this morning and discovered a rare event in January.   My driveway had numerous earthworms.   Unbelievable!  Multiple days of rain and warm temperatures must have signaled Spring had come.  Since the ponds and lake are still unfrozen maybe I should take up fishing again.  

    In spite of this weird weather my local Greek Peak ski area has remained open.  Even through several rainy days.   I drew the line on skiing in the rain for several days but out of curiosity I visited the area today to see for myself the state of the slopes.   I was amazed to find that a few of the slopes had enough snow base from the snowmaking to make reasonable paths to the lift.  Kudos to Greek Peak for investing in snowmaking capacity.   To heck with the idea of fishing!  Tomorrow I will hit the slopes for a fix.  Who knows?  My geezer friends might show up too.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Wash Out

   Recently the weather has been weird for January!  Unusually high temperatures and many rainy days.    Although my local ski area has been open through all of this, I find no incentive to hit the slopes.  To say the least that is unusual for me.  Commonly over the past 22 years I have  been on the slopes 10 to 15 days before the first of January.  This year by only six abbreviated days of skiing were completed.          The geezer skier community has been devastated by this turn of events.  Most of us have taken the wait and see approach hoping for colder weather and snow showers.  All of this tries our patience and can be depressing for those of us know that we have limited years to enjoy our sport.   

    Our skiing community of geezers not only enjoy the skiing but delight in our coffee breaks swapping stories and socializing.   Hopefully in a few days the weather will change and our ski and socialize routine will resume.   Meanwhile I am being domestic,   Time to take down the Holiday decorations, do some interior  odd jobs, work on the income taxes and editing my Silo History document.

    Happy New Year everyone.  And we will keep soldiering on trying to be optimistic for the rest of the season.