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!