I want to do something I haven't done in seven years: ski.
I've skied less than a handful of times, usually without incident. Well, besides the time I skied into a rope and earned a tremendous burn on my neck that lasted for months. And the time I was knocked down by the lift. Those occurred in my first two excursions. Beginning bumps, if you will. Now I'm wise and capable and more than ready to snow plow my way to safety. Besides, I've learned the best way to maintain control: When in doubt, fall over.
We drive through small towns that I've never heard of. That I'm willing to wager most people have never heard of. A post office, a Chinese restaurant, the Family Dollar, one pub, a church, Christmas lights. Snowy farms racing up and over hills. Look fast or you'll miss the sign. We pull a quick right.
The mountain is small, manageable, and navigating up the practice slope a difficult task. My wedges are sharp. I am ready.
They don't like to mark trails here, apparently. Green turns to blue without warning, if there's any sign at all. Ski trail turns to snowboard railings.
"Where are the green trails?" we ask two employees after our first run.
They shrug. "There's a map somewhere."
The top is all right. It's the middle to the bottom that becomes complicated. Wide trails narrow between tree-lined path. Plateaus drop drown, steeper, icier.
I learn to carve. My knee whines but it keeps moving. Darkness comes and snow softly rains down. A light in the hills across from us, the hills where someone lives and turns on the lamp against the fog. Trail lights snap on, casting illuminations and shadows over the snow, and between the small children shrieking by without ski poles, the snowboarders spinning and slicing and never losing balance, the light makes this place almost sacred.