It’s breathless. It’s ….. Bliss. It’s shining eyes wide open wanting more. It’s a rhythm of weightless falling, turning. And yeah, that all sounds a little cheesy. But it’s hard to come up with superlatives of ecstasy that don’t sound cheesy when describing the perfect powder turns on a perfect powder day with your friends. If you’re a skier (or boarder), you know what I mean. If you’re not, maybe you can imagine it through my cheesy superlatives.
That’s the kind of day it was. That’s what every single turn was that morning. It was the kind of snow that was so light it would just fly up and over your head (face shots!) as soon as it was released by the movement of your skis. In fact, it sorta posed a problem for breathing. Ever heard of powder skiers using snorkels? That’s the kind of day it was. Too bad it was so short-lived. For me anyway….
When I stand at the top of an untouched powder run and see a line below me begging my skis to fall and carve endless ‘s’ curves through it, it’s irresistible. I feel an energy rise up through the soles of my boots and into my throat that won’t allow me to stand still. I have to surge off the edge and into free-fall, that energy sometimes spilling out in a happy “woo-hoo”!
We, my powder skiing friends and I, joke a lot about “No friends on a powder day” (meaning, no waiting, no courtesy “you first” kinda thing), but it’s a pretty real and understood code, within certain parameters. All joking aside, I was about to experience first hand what those parameters are about.
Powder Mountain, the subject of my last post, had a snow base of 20 feet, and four feet of it had fallen the three days we’d been skiing there. The line that called my name that third run of the day was a lovely wide avenue of deep snow pillows passing between two 30 foot tall Christmas trees. I followed it’s siren call unhesitatingly, completely enthralled, completely in perfect rhythm, completely in just the moment. About ten turns into it, my right ski hit an invisible rock, releasing it from my foot and launching me head first downhill into what should have been more of that fluffy stuff. No problem. Instead what I was headed for turned out to be a sinister line of of jagged rock, completely hidden, completely unyielding. That’s a problem.
I landed, full body weight hitting that sharp line of rock across my thighs, just above the knees. I heard no crack, felt no giving way, just searing pain where I’d hit. Lying there, I knew better than to move until I’d had time to take stock of what I was feeling. So I didn’t. My face was half buried in that smoky stuff, but I could lie still and still breathe.
Enter: The Friends.
All this waxing over the moon about the skiing at Powder Mountain might have led you to believe it to be the subject of this post. It’s not. It’s about the outpouring of love, care and support of Friends that continues to this day. It’s about the kind of friends that turn that “No friends on a Powder Day” saying on its head and suddenly care nothing about it – instead swinging into action to make a better channel for me to breathe, call for the ski patrol (for who, ME?), and gently coax me into a better position. Oh gawd, I couldn’t imagine moving let alone bouncing along in a toboggan for the 45 minute ride down. It was the calm gentle words of encouragement of friends and husband that made any part of the rest of that day possible. Their powder day was over too….but being who they were: friends, husband, it wasn’t what mattered. Lucky me.
Lying there, waiting for ski patrol to arrive took all the skills of yoga I’d learned and taught over the last 20 years. To stay focused on the moment, avoiding any thoughts of what might lay before me, I needed to breathe calm, slow and deep. I spotted a lovely sugar coated tree across the little valley to attach my attention to (the ‘drishti’, or focus point) and breathe. I thought of my yoga students and all the countless times we’d practiced together for just this moment, sending out a silent prayer of thanks to them all. I couldn’t have done that day without the training to stay present, without my dear friends and husband to help me through. It was pretty nasty: carrying on into the whole ER scene, x-ray (you want me to move where?), and then finally surgery, with their version of a rock star orthopedic surgeon to piece my shattered femur back together.
No Friends on a Powder Day? What I saw that day is that friends and family have got your back regardless of epic powder runs. And really I knew this, but I am fortunate to have experienced it first hand in my hour(s) of need. And still it continues now that I’m homebound, with a parade of family & friends bringing good food, good cheer and healing hands of love nearly every day of my recovery. I am not alone in this and I am so very grateful.
So this is for you. All of you, mentioned or not, who’ve been such a loving force in my rehab. THANK YOU EVERYONE. May I be of service to you if ever you are ever in an hour of need. Powder Day or not!