Monday, March 30, 2009

Skatter Monkies United!

By twice, I skied more this winter than in the last twenty years combined. Not since a winter in Stowe after college, have my eyes leapt so quickly to the window each morning to see if new snow had fallen overnight; nor has my mind had so many wandering thoughts during the day about conditions up on the Mountain.

After so much time, my body has reabsorbed the breath of a “ski bum”, walking through life, but living to slide, as comfortable in heavy boots and awkward sticks as a ballerina in slippers.

In four short months, I have made more friendships than days skied. Such a wonderful energy lingers around a ski resort. More than just a healthy physical activity, there is a lifestyle embraced, a common passion shared that unites everyone in smiles. No bad moods cloud the sky. No one is a stranger here. It is expected that we will entrust our little skiers to get on the chairlift with whoever happens to be next in line.

Sharing the ecstasy of glorious snow or passing time at tables in the quiet lodge when conditions are poor, those of us instructing have become a team united. From such varied occupations and lifestyles, never even learning too many details about each other, our banter in the locker room is a treasure of contentment and comraderie.

When informed in late November of being assigned a group of four year old “never evers” to teach all winter, I seriously noted my sunken heart and (so focused on learning to trust my intuition) considered going another year without skiing more. Hourly over the next four weekends, as my son and I skied backwards coaxing one or the other tearful, terrified child towards hot chocolate, my patience and sanity were sorely tested.

The first day, when they all went foraging, I was inclined to let them be and head for the parking lot. Putting the pink gloves on the blue child while adjusting three scarves and two helmets yet again, only sheer will power and the fear of a lawsuit restrained me from losing "it" and getting too rough. Plenty of mean words were muttered under breath.

Yet hugs, true heartfelt, warm snuggles, a little head fitting perfectly under my arm, always saved the moment. These little souls who could burst instantly from howls to laughter charmed the frustration right out of me. Their delight and wonder so profound, their pain, frustration and tiredness so close to the surface, their fear and happiness so physically palpable; their gifts were rich.

To work and play so hard with my own son has been a treasure beyond reckoning. The advances in his skills and confidence as a skier, teacher and man have been wonderful to witness. Side by side, we have shared, supported and teased one another. Our friendship has grown so far beyond parent/child duties.

Now the snow melts, temperatures warm. We all move on toward baseball, soccer, biking and swimming. We realign the social sets suspended during these last months in our own hometowns. The world circles back and our fond farewells are already muted by the anticipation of the new season, the smell of charcoal and sparkle of fireflies.

In the meantime, I leave my little Skatter Monkies with this song from their very grateful Skatter Brain.

Skatter Monkies

Skatter Monkies, Skatter Monkies: skiing down the hills
Skatter Monkies, Skatter
Monkies, they give us all such a thrill

Mia Pink with brownie crumbs all over her face, never wants to stop, skis like she is in a race;
Bradley leans forward his hands point the way, smile so big and bright it warms the coldest day.

Mia Blue, I’m telling you, knows just where she wants to go, she’ll ski down any trail no matter what the snow;
Smiley Riley seems petrified with tears, ‘til you get up close beside and hear her singing loud and clear.

Good Golly Miss Molly so helpful and kind, at the back of the pack making sure no one’s left behind;
Brook never asks for help, always goes on her own, throws herself down mountains and never breaks a bone

Sabrina serafina as pretty as can be, refused to go up the lift, but really learned to ski;
Owen kept on goin’, never showed his fear, now he’s off to San Diego, we’ll miss him lots next year;

Early one December morn these kids came to me
So wrapped in goggles & helmets, it’s a wonder they could see
They all looked the same to me, I didn’t know their names
I didn’t speak their language, and couldn’t play their games
But they taught me how to laugh again
And see the clear blue sky
To find the good in everyone
And always question why
Skatter Monkies, Skatter Monkies: skiing down the hills
Skatter Monkies, Skatter Monkies, they give us all such a thrill
they give us all such a thrill
Please share with your friends


Erin said...

Have to tell you...just as you were not crazy about the idea of 4 year olds...I was not crazy about the idea of making the commitment to travel over 400 miles every weekend to encounter even colder weather then we already get in MA! But you nailed it...the wonderful people and energy that lingers around a ski resort is a treasure in so many ways. Thank you to you & Sawyer for being a very big part of that "wonderful energy" that kept bringing our family back up every weekend...and will bring us back again next season. So glad you did not trust your intuition on this one!

Laurie said...

I taught kindergarten for 5 years and preschool 5 more. The little ones always seem to worm their way into your heart don't they? Every year I would cry through the last day of school as I waved bye to my babies I had that year. I could write a book of kindergarten stories from things kids did in all those years.

Your tribute to the winter and your time with the "Skatter Monkies" is very sweet. Sounds like this winter was transforming in many ways for you Kip. Way to go!