It has finally snowed in Edmonton, Alberta.
The first real snow of the winter.
I know. I know.
The skiers are ecstatic.
And that reminds me of a story . . .
My siblings and I loved to ski.
Our Dad had introduced us to it the winter I turned eight and it had become a . . . habit.
Well, actually more of a fixation, but we'll go with habit.
We went every chance we could get.
And scoured the catalogues for new and wonderful accessories for our grand passion.
I had just made my first official 'ski' purchase.
New ski pants.
They were expensive.
I was going to wow everyone on that hill!
I couldn't do it with my skiing.
This was the next best thing.
I should explain, here, that ski pants in the 60s weren't the stretchable remarkable cloth that we have now.
In fact, they were distinctly . . . un-stretchable.
Something which will figure largely in my story later.
But they had little side zippers at the ankles.
And they had little elastics that slid under your foot.
They were nifty (real word).
Happily, I donned them and my brother and I were off.
Now, I should explain, here, that Big Mountain in Whitefish Montana was a wonderful place to ski.
There were numerous slopes.
Each with its own particular brand of ski tow.
I always chose the expert slope.
Not that I could actually ski the expert slope.
For two other reasons.
- It had a ski trail that wound around behind and through the wonderful forest, and
- The trail came out at the top of the Intermediate slope, allowing the skier to then ski to the bottom.
- Comparatively unharmed.
It was the best of all worlds.
I made my first run to the top of the expert slope.
Well, slid off the chairlift into a heap.
But to one side.
An important point.
I got my limbs more-or-less together and headed for the mouth of the trail.
It was stunningly beautiful.
The sun was shining.
There had just been a fresh fall of snow.
Over a foot of sparkling, fluffy whiteness blanketed the landscape.
I took a deep, satisfying breath of the spicy air and slid onto the trail.
For the next 20 minutes, I was in heaven.
Finally, the trail ended.
I slid quickly out onto the slope.
Only to discover that it hadn't yet been touched by . . . anything.
It was still in it's pristine, just-been-snowed-on condition.
It took me a few moments to discover that this could present a problem.
The trail I had been on had been fairly packed.
My skis were still on that level.
They hadn't yet adjusted to the extra foot of snow.
I was sliding along with everything below my knees hidden in the fresh snow.
For a second, it was fun.
Then I hit something.
I never discovered what it was.
A lump of ice.
It stopped me.
I wasn't prepared.
My body, already bent forward in my best 'snowplow' position, bent further.
In fact, I whacked my forehead on my knees.
Something I wish I could do today.
But I digress . . .
My glasses popped off into the deep snow.
I rubbed my head and scrabbled around in the snow, finally, triumphantly extracting my glasses.
Then I straightened.
And felt a draft.
Remember what I had said about my ski pants being - not stretchy?
This would be where that fact comes into play.
When my body had done its 'fold-in-half' trick, it proved to be something my new pants had been completely unprepared for.
They split from waistband to waistband, right along the crotch.
I was now effectively wearing two pant legs.
Held up with a narrow strip of cloth at the top.
I definitely needed a longer coat.
Or a loincloth.
And this was the first run of the day.
I made the run down the slope as carefully and unobtrusively as possible, then sneaked to the truck and my suitcase.
The change from my new, albeit flimsy ski pants to my usual jeans was accomplished in a minimum of time.
And I was back on the slope.
For the first few runs, I carefully peered at people to see if anyone recognized me as the almost-pantless girl who had been on the slope a short time earlier.
But, as no one seemed to be paying much attention to me, I finally relaxed.
But I learned something that day.
Expensive can sometimes mean cheap.
It just costs more.