Z is for Zipping Down Ski Slopes

Z is for Zipping Down Perfectly Powdered Ski Slopes

Zipping down perfectly powdered ski slopes, every winter Saturday, every winter holiday, and as many night-ski evenings as possible… this was the central passion, indeed the zeitgeist of my teen era. It started the Christmas of my 14th year, when my parents surprised us with skis under the Christmas tree. In the zodiacal light of that late Christmas afternoon, Dad drove us up the hill to the top of the orchards, where we put our skis over our shoulders, trudged up the barren Okanagan hillside above our home, and then zoomed down, down, down through the light, fluffy, Okanagan powder… until I was suddenly zapped by the barb-wire fence that marked the border between the open slopes and the orchard zone. Carefully extracting myself from the barbs, I examined the rapidly widening red lines that now zig-zagged across my pale white abdominals, and in a true zero-hour moment, decided that in that zoned-out space, flying through the powdery snow, I had found my utopia, my zion.

Fortunately, my barbed-wire wrap-up convinced my parents that it would be wise to invest in a family season ski pass that would allow us regular access to skiing slopes that ended safely at flat, wide-open spaces by ski lodges, and that had lifts to zip us up the slopes, and ski instructors to teach us to zig-zag instead of flying straight downward into oblivion.

And so, every chance I got, I would head for the slopes, and ride up to the heights. There, standing at the zenith of the mountain, I would gaze out across the world, admiring the sparkling beauty of the snow-clad mountaintops against the clear blue sky, and then looking down to where fluffy white clouds wrapped their ziebeline cloaks around the mountains’ lower slopes. And even if the atmospheric conditions were zero-zero, and gentle zephyrs were replaced by zappy gusts that threatened to blow me off the face of the earth, still my zest for skiing could not be dampened. Joyfully pushing off, I would zig-zag back and forth down the slopes of this glorious, majestic natural ziggurat which no man-made tower could ever hope to truly emulate.

For me, it was all about the skiing, about the feeling of zero gravity, the joy of zanily free-flying through a zillion powdery flakes of snow. A ride in a zeppelin, I was convinced, could not come near the emotional or physical zing of a flight down the slopes. I was a true zealot, full of contempt for those who spent most of their time in the lodge, with their zooty ski-bunny wardrobes, their zwieback and zinfandel luncheons, their conversations laced with witty zingers. For me, time in the lodge was a waste, a moment to swallow down a quick peanut-butter sandwich and glass of water, all the time itching to pull up the zipper on my zero-based functional ski jacket, and head back for the slopes. And finally, at the end of every long, joyous day, I would stumble off to bed like a zonked-out zombie… and free-fall into a magical all-night dream world, zipping down perfect powdered slopes.

Norma Hill

Date: September 18, 2008

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