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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Angels

I was right to fear the mountain.

At 1530h, snowflakes floated down like slowly waltzing fairies. They whispered invitations as they passed. Enchanted, we followed their dance up the slopes in a cable car and joined their party at 3000m above sea level.

Excitedly, we sat down on our luges and pushed off. Not long after, the waltzing fairies whipped themselves into a disco frenzy and there were so many that we could see nothing beyond 15m. Their noiseless dance didn't seem friendly anymore and I began to be afraid.

We couldn't go back up because we were one quarter way down. We decided to push on. But we couldn't see beyond all the white, and so we took a wrong turn and ended up on a steep slope for skieurs. The luge went so fast that the powdery snow churned upwards into our faces and filled our mouths and noses. We were drowning in an ocean of cold white powder and we had to stop to walk and fall down the slope. One skieur after another zipped past us and soon, there were no more skieurs because the sun was setting and I suppose that the ski slopes were closed.

We were alone - Little Boy, The Husband and I. I looked at my brave little son who maintained a stoic silence even as his eyes panicked and ran screaming down a dark tunnel with no end. The Husband and I searched for a sign post and fumbled with frozen fingers for our mobile phones. I started to look around for a cave and I vaguely remembered that one could survive the cold by digging a hole to bury ourselves in. It was dark and our fingers were so numb that the mobile phones could not be found. My heart screamed again and again, in the great white silence and I felt sorry for my Little Boy who trusted in me and The Husband to keep him safe and we had not done so. The Husband could do nothing for us without his skis. He could only keep us calm. "Let us not panic" he said. But my heart was not listening anymore.

What kind of pathetic parents were we? Little Boy had icicles in his hair and ice in his eye brows... and even ice cubes in his scarf where the water vapour from his breath had frozen, and with every breath, the ice cubes grew bigger. Even our snot froze. There was a brooding silence all around us. The Daughter had disappeared.

I didn't know it but Little Boy prayed to God for deliverance.

And God sent Pascal, a Snow Angel. He was about 1.85m tall with the kindest eyes in the world and a voice that calmed our hearts. Before long, a powerful scooter stormed up the slopes to rescue Little Boy and I. The Husband stayed alone on the slope and the scooter went back for him. But I was almost in tears because The Daughter was nowhere in sight. I feared oh... I feared that she had luged off the mountain side, or fallen into a hole where we would find her only the next morning, frozen and dead. My Daughter, with her whole life before her...

Once arrived at the Safe House, I tried to organize a search for her and as I tried to calmly explain that there was a 15 year old girl still on the slopes cold and alone, she emerged from the white darkness of the awful blizzard and ran crying into my arms. As I folded her into my arms, I think I experienced the most joyful moment of my life.

The people at the Safe House were very kind. There was hot chocolate waiting and they helped us to collect our gear. Powerful snow scooters scooped us all up and deposited us gently at the hotel. We owe our very lives today to men such as Pascal, Jannick and Thomas... and women such as Sylvie, who make up the Groupe Sureté of the Val Thorens.

People like Pascal sweep the slopes at every slope closure for people like us who are caught off guard by blizzards that take less than 15 minutes to build up and blind the unwary. People like Jannick ride their scooters up the slopes to carry people down to safety. People like Thomas man the call centre and co-ordinate rescue missions. And people like Sylvie make sure that there is hot chocolate and warm conversation to help us forget.

I promise you that I will NEVER go up the slopes again. N-E-V-E-R! There is absolutely nothing wrong with my bed.

6 comments:

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

*hugs*

=)

barefootgardener said...

Thank God you are all safe!

shamrock said...

Dear dear, Petunia. I really want to thank God for watching over you and your family, and for sending His angels when He did.

termite said...

o dear did not read this entry until now. thank goodness u guys are all ok.

Blur Ting said...

I just came back from my trip and quickly scrambled over to read your blog upon landing. Oh, how terrifing to read about the experience. My heart leapt with fear as I imagined how you must have felt at that time. My goodness. Thank God everyone is safe.

Chawanmushi said...

Gosh .... I read with trepidation but I'm glad everything came out alright for you and the family.
Take with you all the good memories and leave the bad behind :-) Thanks for sharing about your holiday in the mountains. I too don't like the cold LOL