Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gone Skiing

Sierra ski racing in the mining days. New England Ski Museum.
Hans Castorp found that one quickly gets readiness in an art where strong desire
comes in play. He was not ambitious for expert skill, and all he needed he
acquired in a few days, without undue strain on wind or muscles. He learned to
keep his feet tidily together and make parallel tracks; to avail himself of his stick
in getting off; he learned how to take obstacles, such as small elevations of the
ground, with a slight soaring motion, arms outspread, rising and falling like a
ship on a billowy sea; learned, after the twentieth trial, not to trip and roll over
when he braked at full speed, with the right Telemark turn, one leg forward, the
other bent at the knee. Gradually he widened the sphere of his activities.
.     .     . 
He rejoiced in his new resource, before which all difficulties and hindrances to
movement fell away. It gave him the utter solitude he craved, and filled his soul
with impressions of the wild inhumanity, the precariousness of this region into
which he had ventured. On his one hand he might have a precipitous, pine-clad
declivity, falling away into the mists; on the other sheer rock might rise, with
masses of snow, in monstrous, Cyclopean forms, all domed and vaulted, swelling
or cavernous. He would halt for a moment, to quench the sound of his own
movement, when the silence about him would be absolute, complete, a wadded
soundlessness, as it were, elsewhere all unknown. There was no stir of air, not so
much as might even lightly sway the treeboughs; there was not a rustle, nor the
voice of a bird. It was primeval silence to which Hans Castorp hearkened, when
he leaned thus on his staff, his head on one side, his mouth open. And always it
snowed, snowed without pause, endlessly, gently, soundlessly falling.
~ Thomas Mann, excerpt from Chapter 6, The Magic Mountain, 1929

Such is the call of the wintry mountain. And so it happens this week is winter break--that time of year the Suburban Soliloquist unplugs and leaves the mortal flatlands for the higher, hiemal call of the Great White North, where she revels on the gleaming slopes of powdery snow, and the surrounding territory's majestic views. (With skis much shorter and lighter than the twelve foot wooden slats of the nineteenth century.)

At last.

Next week, after she's halted to hearken the echo of her own skis scraping the snow-wrapped summits and long, winding trails of the White Mountains, she'll  be back to the muddy, mortal flatlands and the hypertextual webs of ether. 

Aren't you all looking forward to this year's extra day of winter? Perhaps it might even bring snow to suburban streets, parks and fields. One can only wish...

42 comments:

  1. I am one for whom snow brings even more difficulty in moving. SO I do not wish for it--except in the mountains and parts north of here for people like you! And the blinding beauty of it.

    I knew the words were familiar. I read that for a college course paper--a final grade paper. Some rhythms of words you never forget.

    Have a wonderful, wild, freeing time.

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    1. Jeannette- To have such rhythm... I got my share of snow, finally. (Well, really, there's no share too large for me.) So I'll stop begging for more--especially for you. ;)

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  2. Dear Jayne, FLY down those slopes, thrill to the cold, the slipping, sliding feeling of freedom. There is no next week, there are no sockets, plugs, iPads, iPhones, USB ports--they've all been wiped away in a blizzard and now there's only crisp, bright blue air and you in your suddenly-winged body, laughing your head off all the way down!! xo

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    1. FLY I did, Melissa! Totally, completely unplugged until late last night. And even then, I'd wished I hadn't plugged back in. I'm still laughing, though, from the mountains to the valleys... :)

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  3. Skiing and Thomas Mann. Joy.
    Wishing you powder.:)

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    1. Joy, joy! Heavily packed powder. And it was divine.

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  4. I love Thomas Mann too but I can do without the snow. We get cut off when it snows.
    It's nearly spring, please winter, don't come back.

    Happy winter holiday to you!

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    1. It's spring here back at home, Friko. Only nothing budding just yet. Thanks for the wishes--we had a marvelous holiday. :)

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  5. nice post Jayne - I do so miss skiing

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    1. David- There's mountains round you!

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  6. Haha, it's 55 degrees here and i'm planning for spring!! Not a skier myself but always wanted to try snowshoeing someday :)

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    1. EcoGrrl- Snowshoeing is lovely. So peaceful. Do try!

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  7. I am wishing for snow Jayne, but only for you, only for you.

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    1. Thanks for tossing out the pixie dust, Bill. It worked! :D

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  8. Have fun! We'll be waiting here to say welcome back to the ether webs. But for now, live strong and live free.

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    1. Live strong and live free... One absolutely must while in New Hampshire. There's simply no other option. Had a fabulous ski trip Rubye. Highly rejuvenating. ;)

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  9. Oh, I loved to read your quote of dear Thomas Mann in English! Thank you! And I wish you a fine holiday Britta

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    1. Thank you, Britta. Was wonderful. :)

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  10. Skiing is a thrilling sport.
    Take care so that your skiing vacation is only fun and pleasure!

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    1. Duta- Good to see you here. Yes, it was only fun and pleasure. And I have to admit, I'm always a bit nervous for the kids. Thankfully, they have pretty good balance. ;)

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  11. I hope you are having a wonderful respite. Though how could it be otherwise? "He would halt for a moment, to quench the sound of his own movement, when the silence about him would be absolute." I am sure you are doing so from time to time as well.

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    1. Susan- I did, I did! Halted as much as one can on an icy mountain. Took it all in and holding onto it! Absolutely. There'll be no more crying. ;)

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  12. If it snows next week, I'm holding you personally responsible.

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    1. Nessa- I only wished for snow in New England. And I got it. Traveling north is what it took this year, but it's alright--'tis where the mountains are. :)

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  13. I hope you have fun with those "gleaming slopes of powdery snow!" Fun fact: I was born and raised in Colorado, and I've never been skiing. Ever. Which, apparently, is like being from Hawaii and never having surfed.

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    1. That seems just impossible, my good Beer. How the heck is that a "fun" fact? Get on that board! Hmm... maybe you'd like snowboarding???

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  14. I hope you're enjoying the slopes. You'd be hard-pressed to find snow around these here parts though.

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    1. Very much so, Hilary. We've been hard pressed to find snow here all winter. Even the lower lands of NH had no snow. But once we got beyond Franconia Notch, it was a winter wonderland. :)

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  15. That's great. I hope you enjoy the snow and the skiing!

    We have winter break this week as well; six days of skiing so far. I had to go back home tonight, since I'm teaching tomorrow morning (no winter break in the university). After the lectures I go straight back to the slopes for the weekend >:)

    Cold As Heaven

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    1. Cold- Six days on the slopes! Heaven. We had a terrific time--great skiing, cold, cold weather, warm fires and good food and wine. Can't beat that. ;)

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  16. Replies
    1. Ha! Don't. I don't get out there nearly enough. Some day, I'm going to get myself a job at a ski resort, and ski all winter long...

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  17. Pursuing adventure with a smile, wit and humor. Enjoy it all, Jayne and see you back here soon! :)

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    1. Thanks, Michael. Feels like I'm back in a flash. With lots of catching up to do... but well worth it. :D

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  18. You make this timid girl almost desire to take up skiing. I admire you for enjoying the sport at least. I'll sit and sip some hot cocoa in my 80 degree Arizona desert, think of that white, exotic landscape, and wish you well, Jayne.

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    1. Hillary- You know, for me, the mountains are more exotic than the islands. I've never really spent time in the desert (unless Palm Desert counts!), but I think I'd like it. Not sure about sipping hot cocoa in that kind of heat, though!

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  19. happy skiing then Jayne...btw i gave you a thumbs up over at my place :)

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    1. Thanks, Dan! Ah, you did? Sweetheart. I'll be by to see you soon--lots of catching up to do here at home! :)

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  20. Lived in Canada all my life, most of it in a province that shares the Rocky Mountains, never been on skis in my life. I understand they push the cold air into your face faster and harder. I'd still like to try it, but I do think a welding mask would be in order.

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  21. Tattytiara- Wouldn't I love to make my home in the Rockies. Yes, lots of cold air shoved into face. Masks are most definitely in order. Especially on entirely exposed mountains--but not the welded sort. I like the woolies. ;)

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