No Knee Ski, But Great Times

My self-imposed 30 Mindful Days project is 7 days old. Is this my day of reaching reason?

The sky is gray and weepy. A low pressure system has hunkered down with a parade of El Nino-fueled winter storms. While the rain and snow are just what California and the West can use right now, that low pressure part of the storm makes it a bit more challenging for me to get about. You see, at this sixty-something age, all the fun I had in my youth, has jumped back to bite me in the knee.  Yup, my good knee is my new bad knee.  It’s the delayed impact of my younger self, the lucky California girl who counted the days for the first winter storm to cover California’s mountains so that I could hop a ski lift and swoosh my way down a powdery trail, and repeat until the the lifts stopped for the day.  And there were those hours on the tennis court, runs, hikes, falls, twists and turns.

I sold my skis not long after a nasty fall that blew out my formerly bad knee, which is now my good knee after arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the worn out mess.

I pushed so many of those fun moments into my memory’s back files…until…

…a few days before this Christmas when I spent a night in my daughter and her husband’s  Taos Ski Valley condo.  It’s near the first chairlift. Looking out the patio door I recalled taking both my daughters, who were about 11 and 13 at the time, for a day skiing there.

I started my daughters on those ice-sliding sticks at an early age at Mammoth Mountain, about a four-hour drive from our Mojave Desert home. I was a fair-to good skier and cautiously capable to run an expert hill. But my preferance was a modestly challenging run without bumps that gave me plenty of time to find the groove and rythmn of that particular side of a mountain, and to savor the beauty and view that skiing provides.

Taos Ski Valley’s trails, however, humbled me. Taos is a whole other level of skiing.  But the challenge brought me back a few times until that dreaded knee-blowout day at Ski Santa Fe–and the humilating ride down in a stretcher, courtesy of Santa Fe’s ski patrol.

Anyway, this time in Taos Ski Valley, I was clearly the grandmother with Christmas excited grandchild urging me to hurry up across the snow-covered trail for a meal at the venerable Tim’s Stray Dog Cantina. Boots clumped against the wooden floor. Red nosed, gloved and wool-hatted skiers of all ages found their wooden table to gather ’round. Adults ordered steaming Mexican coffees, and the kids were treated to hot cider or chocolate.  Suddenly, I was transported to my younger self in stylish ski clothes that defied freezing weather, and the chatter of what ski run was extraordinary, the lift lines, and how fearless the kids were plowing down the mountain.

The memory warmed me. The camaraderie of skiers and conversation excited me. Packed powder. Sweet. Fresh. Edge.  Why couldn’t I join a senior’s ski program?

How my family skis now. They  recently posted this photo of them riding a lift to the mountain’s top.

Now my grandchildren swoosh and plow alongside their expert ski-parents — and all of them wear helmets — something not even thought about thirty-some years ago. Skis are shorter (hallelujah!), the chairlifts are high-speed, you purchase a smart card online instead of waiting in long lines for a lift pass, and the boots are…um, the boots, I understand, are still the first thing you want to rid yourself of after a day on the slopes.

I intend to spend time with my family in Taos Ski Valley. I dearly miss the ski environment. But you won’t see me fumble my way down a ski trail, even the beginner runs or in a senior’s program.  Once this knee is brought back to being my other good knee, I plan to keep it that way and stick with walking and hiking.  But what I look forward to is having a pot of chili and fresh made bread ready for my helmeted, goggled, gloved and wool capped family after a long day of grooving with the mountain.

Yes, I have reached a day of reason on this seventh mindful day.





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