a mountain tale

Gather round, gather round, and you shall hear a tale of beauty, pain, and magic.

Are you ready?

Everyone comfortable?  Did you already go to the bathroom?  Get a drink of water?  Okay, let’s begin…

A short time ago, slightly more than two weeks from today, the Queen, Little Prince, and I ventured forth from our kingdom to brave the spring-like conditions offered up on the slopes of Mammoth Mountain.  We were excited to return to a place that has always provided the restorative fun necessary to function peacefully in our normal daily routines and tasks.  However, we were a bit leery of how the Little Prince would handle the drive (a not insignificant six plus hours) and how he would handle being left in day care for only the second time.  (The first time was also at the on-mountain facility in Mammoth when he was two months old, and he slept the whole time he was there.)

Our trepidations regarding the Little Prince were misplaced.  He did great on the drive.  (He did great on the drive there, anyway.  The drive home?  Once the tremors have stopped, perhaps I’ll find the courage to write about that horror story.  I’m still haunted by the screams.)  And, while there were tears when we said goodbye, he let us leave him and there were positive signs that he would settle down and play with the staff and the eleventy-seven toys he had pulled out of their cubbies during the short time we were checking him in.  All in all, the Queen and I counted those two parts of our adventure as a huge success.

We donned our boots, grabbed our boards, and took the gondola up to McCoy Station.  (As a side note, that’s where we said our vows as part of the grand festival of awesome that was our wedding.  Hey, when you are marrying a Queen, you’ve got to go all out, right?  Anyway, like I said in the beginning, sort of, Mammoth is special for us.)  We strapped in and skated out to the edge of the slope we were going to drop down, and started our first runs in 14 months…

Shortly thereafter we realized our mistake.  We had placed our worry on the wrong aspect of this adventure.  We hadn’t needed to worry about the Little Prince.  Instead, we should have worried about our ability to remember how to snowboard without falling.  There was falling.  There was so much falling.  There was so much falling and so much pain.  I still hurt in places now, and I’m talking about more than just my ego.

We slipped and tumbled and crashed our way down two runs.  Disgusted.  Embarrassed.  Sore.  Frustrated.

While we don’t consider ourselves great, we are at least average at the art of strapping ourselves to elongated pieces of plastic and throwing ourselves off the side of a mountain (strap and throw, for short), and in less than thirty minutes we had both fallen more times than we had in the last five years combined.  So, the Queen and I trudged back to our car defeated and lost in a fog of the crumbling hopes we’d had for the day.  The beautiful blue skies towering over the snow-capped peaks mocked us.  The zen we sought eluded us.

Then, in a spark of imaginative madness, an idea occurred to us.

Shortly after, we were back on the mountain carving our way down the slopes confidently and competently as we knew we were capable of all along.  The day was saved.  We found the moments of calm and peace we had longed for as our boards slid gracefully over the snow and the day warmed our souls and soothed our hearts.  The songs of the mountain rolled over us and we rejoiced.

It.  Was.  Magic.

What we had forgotten at the beginning of the day, and had remembered in that light-bulb moment, was respect.  The Queen and I had been so concerned about how the Little Prince was going to do, we had forgotten completely about paying homage to the mountain.  Once we had paid the mountain its rightful dues, Mammoth graced us with a bit of its boundless magic and allowed us to navigate its curves once again.

It was simple, really, to pay our respect, all we had to do was buy season passes for next year…  Some may call that throwing money at the problem.  I call it magic.

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