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  • It's Not About the Black Diamonds
    Memories on the Slopes

    By Tammie Thompson

    Photo TL Thompson; Girl's Obermeryer/ Boy's Airwalk We used to rent an old farmhouse in Central Vermont for the winter. Every weekend we would load up the station wagon for the trek up from the New Jersey suburbs. I would listen to the radio, attempt homework and daydream most of the six hour drive. We would roll in late, say hey to the housemates and go off to bed.

    My dad would be up at five, scraping ice off the car, reloading for a day trip to one of Vermont's ski areas. He was determined to hit a different area each day, taking most of the season to explore half of Vermont's many ski areas.

    Each area offered up uncharted terrain, full of winding trails, glades and new adventures. Years later I can't remember the names of the trails. Lots of animal-like names (brown bear, grizzly bear, porcupine) come to mind, but the topography is still there, like recalling a good novel. Moguls, sheets of ice, frozen treetops, and the occasional fluff of a fresh snowstorm are dispersed throughout the plot.

    Sure, I remember pins and needles in my toes, and lots of wind and frozen temperatures. But when I think of all those hours, all those days of exploring various mountains, what I remember most is the time hanging out with my family. Telling stories about getting stuck under a snow gun, or discovering fresh snow in the glades of Mad River, or following the cute boy on the ski team, or discovering Dannon yogurt before the rest of the world. Snippets of a snow dance in the backyard, or breaking down on the Thruway, or the sloping floor of the farmhouse make me smile.

    There was the time we cut down our Christmas tree right on the side of the road. Or the time I insisted on wearing jeans and froze to the chairlift. I remember winning the ski club slalom. And best of all, I remember the time we went sledding on bread pans and laughed so hard we wet our pants.

    No, the memories aren't about conquering that black diamond run for the first time or blasting through the moguls without falling. The memories are about sharing those times.

    Building adventures to share can last a lifetime. Participation in winter sports opens that door to adventure. Once open, those memories flood in, released over time in snippets of joy and laughter. I wouldn't give up those frozen toes for anything.

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