The Eye Always Goes to the Good One

     Damn, I hate being cold and not moving.

     I shifted my weight from boot to boot, and jumped up and down to stay warm. We stood among a crowd of other parents who were segregating their kids into ability levels at Copper Mountain.

Copper has a great program for kids who are three through sixteen. All of the major ski areas have something like this, but Copper seemed so family friendly, we just fell into it. All of the kids had started in preschool, in fact Christopher was barely three when he first stepped into a binding. We spent a lot of money on this family sport. Gear swaps, snow clothing, Chopper fees, all really dented the budget. The running joke was that we would retire in poverty, but our kids would be fabulous powderhounds.

The girls were at their various gathering flags. Faith and Abi in the blue/black group, about to  tentatively explore some of Copper’s most expert terrain. Rachael at the blue flag, her little green figure decked out with every gadget the pre-teen skier could need. Christopher was to meet his group at the black flags, the experts who were testing their limits on the terrain parks.

“Mom, can I please take a powder track run?” We were early, and I thought there might be just enough time for him to squeeze one in.

“Sure sweetie, but don’t dawdle. Patrick and the gang will be here soon.”

Almost sixteen year olds do an impressive eye roll.

“Duh! I never go slow!”  True that.

My thoughts wandered over the Saturday morning routine. Up at 5:30, jump into clothes that had been laid out the night before. Blearily grab an energy bar, pile into the car that Chris had already started and warmed up, while tapping his coffee cup impatiently.   Always Mr. Prompt.

I scurried around doing a last gear check. It is a frustrating waste of time to have to dig up a lost pole or glove. We roll out at sunrise, praying to beat the wave of Denver newbies and elk gapers that always clogged the Idaho Springs turnoff.  Sure hope the Starbucks line isn’t too long.

No morning blizzards, which meant we had a prayer of beating the traffic. God bless the Denver traffic, it’s good business, but boy, it can drive a mountain person nuts.

I like to think my Colorado arrogance is justified. It isn’t, of course, but I can remember when it took 45 minutes to drive from Evergreen to Arapaho Basin. Sigh. The traffic.

Time was ticking by, and Christopher had still not returned. I started scanning each wave of skiers descending the flagged hill.

The newbies were amusing. Day glow colors! Didn’t we finish that phase in the eighties? Young boys pointing their skiis ‘down’- not a whit of control- no doubt freaking out their parents.

Occasionally, the expert skier, gracefully and quickly carving a path down the packed powder.  Skin tight racing suits, some with sponsor badges. Must be a race today.

My mind wandered to years past. When Abigail was about 5, she was in the “Little Duckling” stage of her skiing, where all the little ones line up and follow the instructor down the green slopes.

One afternoon toward the last run, I decided to follow the little flock down. I spotted Abigail as the caboose in line. I trailed them by a dozen yards or so, and was stunned to see the little cuss shoot off into a nearby tree trail. She jumped, turned, and carved her way through the trail alone, and then joined the rest of the pack at the bottom, with no one the wiser! The little devil! I cracked up all the way down, and couldn’t wait to tell Chris.

Skiers continued to crest the slope. Christopher’s group was starting to gather. Where on earth was he? More children, snowboarders, newbies. My eye caught a man at the top of the hill.  Geared out entirely in black, the skier flew down the slope, expertly avoiding other people. Clearly the best of the crowd, I couldn’t help but watch. The eye always goes to the good one.

He found a jump beside a lift support pole, and got good air. He carved several fast turns, flew toward me and sprayed me insolently with snow.

Suddenly tears jumped into my eyes, and my throat constricted. Joy can be funny sometimes.

Where did that time go? What happened to the marshmallow preschooler on the bunny slope?

“See, Mom! I told you I would be back in time!”

Much love,



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