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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Val Thorens

Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in France, and it gets the earliest snows because of its altitude. The children had seen snow in USA but not the waist high snow banks of fine powdery snow that would make our ice kachangs blush and hide themselves away (for not being quite as fine).

I like snow from behind a window pane, and from under a thick quilt with a "café au lait" in one hand and a croissant with jam in the other. Not for me the romps in the snow with snowmen and snowballs. Not for me the ultra stylish swoosh swoosh of the tanned "skieurs" gliding effortlessly down the slope, deftly avoiding rocky outcrops and the tips of small pine trees. Not for me the charms of trudging through knee deep snow leaving enchanting footprints behind me.

It's very very cold you know. Nonetheless, I've never met anyone who thinks ski-ing is unpleasant. And I can understand why. These mountains exude a sense of powerful majesty. To fly down the slopes on skis and feel the kisses of the mountain air is a thrilling experience. The rush of adrenaline keeps people coming back for more. From the beginning of time, Man has enjoyed flirting with danger... conquering it. "Skieurs" must feel like Kings of the Mountain, non?

But I fear the mountain. God is in these mountains and it is not the God of my everyday who is gentle and patient. This is God when He decides to appear in all His masterful glory as Sovereign of all He created. Here is the face of God that sends me flying for refuge because to contemplate This face is to feel a keen sense of my own vulnerability. I cannot relax around these mountains. I love my slippers, shorts and t-shirts too much and I dislike the encumbrances of gloves, coats, scarves and boots. Here, I cannot run around with legs and shoulders bared to the sun for the kisses of the mountain are cold... oh so cold. And wherever I go I cannot help but see the mountain's potential for violence - its avalanches, its blizzards and people being carried off the slopes on stretchers.

But The Husband loves the mountains. When we were students, it was he who dragged me up the slopes at X'mas, New Year and over long winter weekends. He would then disappear up the Black slopes for his adrenaline fix. In France the slopes are categorised by difficulty from Green, to Blue, to Red and then finally, the Black slopes. On one occasion, he came back after the start of a blizzard recounting that he had almost ski-ed himself off the mountain side for lack of visibility.

But it isn't fair for a Cowardly Wife such as I to prevent The Husband from sharing his love for the mountain with his children. It also isn't fair for a Cowardly Mother such as I to deny the children an experience that they will remember. So, to console myself, I booked a rather pricey hotel with excellent service staff, sumptuous breakfast spreads and refined chef-prepared dinners. I have come armed with a stack of magazines and my own soft fleece blanket. And I intend to STAY in bed for 4 days to admire the snow from behind a window pane.

I will of course, get up for meals.

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