when it snows up north, there's a day after everything's settled and nothing's been packed that it's simplement parfait, and that's the day to drop it all and let the twin boards roll. such a day was friday.
at the dusky end of the day there was observed a pair of skis that were reckoned to be (by a year or two) even older than mine, which is the point where the story about this perfect moment ought to begin. see, i've cared for this pair of planks (otherwise known to be employed by "two plank wankers", which is the other point where this story of the perfect moment needs go before it'll make sense) meticulously through all manner of disuse, from meeting and marriage to a frosty frost-phobe, to budget-sensitive exile in a place where space would otherwise be at a ski-free premium. but they're tuned and sharpened as they've always been, just in case, and they were there for me when it counted once again. (how does one ever give up on good friends?)
everything on the slopes these days is grey, dark or otherwise, if you haven't been recently, from boots to kit to the helmets atop the heads. (ok, the skis sport a little color now and then, but it's usually earth-toned and hardly designed to attract undue attention). the first thing that likely draws attention to my mismatched couture are the blaze red boots that are actually (ssshh, don't tell the skis they'll be hurt) the reason my ensemble has been curated to be kept together in the first place. instead of buckling four or more times across the front, and being one ankle-abusing pain in the ass in which to clunk around the lodge, these are the smoothest set of one-click and you're in rear-buckled salomons you ever did see. they take exactly 2 seconds to put on, and you can move in them, both on the slopes and off, like nothing else seen before or since the mid 1980's when they were born. and they fit perfectly...
so the other part of the ensemble that generally attracts attention are the two staves (usually, and more on that later) attached to said boots, which are in three ways like nothing most folks of insufficient age have ever seen. first of all, they're over six feet long, and nothing you can buy these days will ever come close to that. second of all, they're as narrow and straight as they are long, and i'm not here to dis parabolas, but it's an extremely unique profile on the slopes, and not hard to miss when they go rocketing by. (nothing faster than straight skis on the straights and you can race me to find out). and third of all, they're possessed of an ironically modest day-glo color scheme on an off-white background that isn't so much loud in and of itself as just screams not of this era.
yes, the pejoratives that once flew between boarders and skiers included "two plank wanker" (to which might be replied, "knuckle dragger" or some such witless retort) and its only been in the recent past that peace has reigned on the slopes. (for years mountains wouldn't allow boards on them at all, and, even when they did, they started out by banishing them to specific lifts and terrain areas so that never the twain would meet). these days it's much more amicable, though you still rarely see mixed groups of skiers and boarders (my party of seven, including as it did my friend's son was one of the few on the mountain) or hear a lot of friendly exchanges between them.
so, anyway, along towards the latter hours of the day, after being sufficiently warmed up by various runs through the moguls and the woods and wherever the peer pressure might lead, it was on to the more liesurely appreciation of the afternoon. e.g. my buddy's son, the boarder, is pathologically compelled to cut every corner into the woods and seek out the freshest powder and drops that are to be had. others in the party would choose the bumps or the cruisers or whatever they preferred on their way to rendezvous by the lifts, but me, as is my compulsion, i was just enjoying the afternoon while interspersing being spoiled for bursts of speed and whatever air might become necessary and possible because of it. (hey, it's what i do). i'd like to say i'm not particularly reckless about it, but i can manage a little cowabunga now and then, and so it was that i approached one particular groomed-for-purpose airfield.
the spot was a favorite of the boarders, who tend to make up for their intrinsic slight deficit of speed with the sublime solace of air time, so there were a group of four or five nearby admiring their mates and planning their next assaults as i came round the bend into view. there was an immediate whoop and holler when it became clear where i was headed, and i think the orange boots and bright blue turtle fur hat gave a hint that i wasn't kidding, and then i was aloft to hear the whole soundtrack shift...
from cheers to that unmistakable "ohhhhhh" of sympathy when the home team just doesn't quite come through with the win... cuz, see, i'm dumb but i'm not crazy, and i cut the speed just enough on the approach so i easily cleared the jump to its first easy landing, (not a bad patch of air), but not all the way to the second one another 15 or 20 yards or so down the slope that requires both abandon on the approach, as well as experienced confidence of wrap-up lest those boards once again spend time detached from those boots (as they do from time to time in my case) on the landing. 48 year old legs churned mercilessly through mogul fields all day on equipment that is designed for anything but leaves one in a position of vulnerability that only age and sagacity can appreciate. you just don't do crazy s*** like that if you aren't in shape for it. (ok, maybe once or twice a day, but ssshhh don't tell anyone).
the fun was that they were cheering for me and my retro kit to share their joy, and it was nice for there to be no gap across the generations or the equipment to share it back. ever since snoopy appropriated the term, cowabunga has been cowabunga, and there's more in common between guys (it's almost always guys) who know the thrill that immediately proceeds the agony of defeat despite their age, backgrounds, equipment or other politics than there is for any coincidence of the same.
and a great time was had by all.