NOVICES ON THE MOUNTAIN – 1975

1/5/75
Took this journal with me into the snow country yesterday but never wrote a word. Too busy. Paige begged off skiing so the boys and I dressed for warmth, letting fashion run a poor second. Yesterday’s rain storm, or I should say the-before-yesterday’s storm, of course, generously produced snow in the higher elevations. We left bare pavement about 5 miles before our journey’s end, creeping past lines of motorists chaining up. We had snow studs on our rear tires so ignored the warning – “snow chains required.”
Reached Summit where A-frame ski shops were over-run with winter enthusiasts. School and church buses disgorged hordes of apple-cheeked youngsters. The closest parking was about a quarter mile down, so our walk to the ski rental shop was made against hard pellets of snow. As luck would have it, another trip was required as I.D.s were needed for rentals. I’d taken only cash, having locked my purse in the car trunk. When we were finally in the customer line, we fell into conversation with two friendly blond boys, neither apparently affluent; one tall, one short, but both with merry eyes and smiles easily earned. They too were uninitiated in the art of skiing.
Struck by this similarity, we mirthfully exchanged prophecies and pledges….such as calling ambulances or undertakers should this prove necessary. The tall boy was Jay and the shorter, Paul. By the time we reached the counter, boots in our sizes were out of stock though Jay offered to try an 11 over his usual 10 and Paul opted for a 4 instead of his regular 5. Wishing them well, we gloomily wended our way through the crowd of snowy, laughing people, noting especially those clad in regulation outfits, zippered nylon pad-pants and jacket, matching caps like World War I flying aces complete with goggles jauntily turned up and, most significantly, wearing the clumsy, thick, status-symbol—ski boots!
Another shop proved a bust. A third could be seen about a half mile down. It was snowing like crazy and I was getting antsy, suddenly afraid of being stuck on the mountain. As one grows older and becomes responsible for other people, one’s adventuring takes a beating. The glory of conquest and lust for experience is often over-shadowed by more-than-likely consequences. Perhaps, that’s why bachelors and “spinsters” make the best explorers. Although that may include married people who retain a oneness of self –
The boys were dashed and I was sorry, so we checked in at a kind of Swiss Alpine ski shop. We got equipment there but at $10 apiece, not the $4.50 that Summit offered. I felt a very scrooge-like crunching of willpower that peaked on hearing the ski lift tickets were to be purchased separately.
Off we trudged to Multopor Ski Bowl – wearing those much admired ski boots that resembled their medieval counterparts, the iron boot. Snow everywhere, great drifts banked beside the icy roads. We finally got to the ski center, climbing past a rope to get tickets at $3 a piece. The smallest slope looked damn steep to my uninitiated eyes. As children whizzed past us, we knew we were outclassed. Still, we struggled into our rented skis. Any slight depression sent me skittering downhill in odd positions; sideways, front ways, and backwards.
Novices who periodically cracked up were now looked upon with a kindling eye of sympathy. PJ took the downhill first and wiped out, halfway down, skis up and orange hat frosty with snow. Once vertical, he completed the descent with only one other spill. Joey cruised clear to the bottom, but on trying to stop, went head over tea kettle. Awed by this display, I only watched their efforts to use the rope tow. “That’s the hardest part of it,” they told me later.
Standing at the top of a small hill off to the side, cross-country skiers tracked past me, as well as a young couple instructing their infant. When two youngsters pulling sleds appeared, I stood aside to watch the older boy glide down. Then, as the younger readied himself, my skis began to slide. I fought vainly but was unable to stop my downward trajectory. Dreadfully, one ski picked up both child and sled, rolling them aside. I continued, upright but covered with humiliation. Returning to the top, I spied the snowy little victim cheerily climbing out of a drift. He greeted me with a smile and a friendly hello. He was either accustomed to such eccentric behavior, or he didn’t recognize me.
The huge, white slopes above held daring athletes doing the slalom courses–the trees were heavy with mounded snow – lovely to see but clearly beyond the novice. After several, less dramatic cruises down “my” modest hill, I noted the cold increasing and time passing. Retrieved the car keys and money from PJ’s pack and stowed them safely in my mitten. Told the boys to meet me at the ski rental. Then, summoning a kind of desperate courage, decided to risk the big one as I had to get to the bottom of the run anyway. After waiting for a relatively clear course, I took the plunge. But halfway down, my acceleration became alarming. Hoping to slow my frantic descent, I dug a pole in, an act that resulted in a spectacular somersault. My right thumb was yanked backward while my skis kept going. After an ignominious trip to the bottom, I limped to the shop where I turned in the whole shebang.
The bliss of stepping into my waffle-stompers was exquisite! The free movement of ankle released from the cruel grip of those iron ski boots! Joy! The boys were still to be tracked down as they hadn’t showed up at the appointed time, but once reunited, we crawled into our snowy car and drove home. As the snowbanks and fields receded in our rearview mirror, it seemed as though the whole day was already fading into memory. Reality rose to meet us in the rain wet streets of the valley.
Well, it’s Sunday morning and everybody is in bed. My right hand is worthless and there’s a twinge in my left thumb in certain positions. I wonder how I’ll do as a waitress tomorrow!!??

Published in: on November 23, 2018 at 11:43 am  Comments (2)  

Journal -Crossing into 1975

December 28, 1974
Have been tramping about the game preserve for a couple of hours. Fixed a big breakfast late in the morning for the boys and all. After dishes and beds, got ready for my freedom march. My headache is finally gone, at least almost.
The sky is filled with a diaphanous gray overcast. Nush continues to be my faithful companion though twice I have put out my hand and called him Chip.
I’m sitting on a rock at present in the clearing I always think of as being a natural site for a cabin. Pools of water in a nearby rocky basin reflect tree and grass. The damp is penetrating but the air is as bracing as a cup of well water. As always, after long absence, I wonder why I have not been walking. The somber gray shapes and funereal greens of the firs and cedars are beautiful and austere. This doesn’t mean the scene lacks elaborate detail and even the unexpected. Some slender trees display tiny buds on their branches—or perhaps these are only bushes—but no matter. Their skeletons are brimming with spring plans and their secrets are showing. The Oregon Grapes are purple-red like summer plums, though some leaves are dull burnished green as well. Saw a few snowberries, a scatter of scarlet rose hips, and the sprouting of yellow and brown mushrooms. I love to be out here alone with my dog. It roots me in a soaring kind of way.
Last night went to sleep contemplating a great theory—probably acknowledging what psychology has already explored. How one’s childhood is so instrumental in the developing personality and that the kind of memories we hold on to, can tell us something of what we are, what we mirror in in our approach to life. A happy, confident childhood, I think, would tend to perpetuate some inner belief that helps us face failure and keeps hope alive. And yet there are those with resilient spirits who are beacons of hope no matter their childhood sorrows. I could go on and on, but am now too cold and sloppy to continue dripping down incoherent impressions.
The gray sky is darkening, so guess I’ll pack up my journal and head for home.
1975
January 1, 1975
Have failed to write a lengthy introspective entry for the last day of 1974, but will at least compose a few notes for the first day of the New Year.
The boys scattered last night – Joe going to John’s and Pete to Tony’s, while Paige went with K.M. to a New Year’s Eve celebration. Friends dropped by for a brief visit and invited us to visit them this summer at their home in Nehalem. A pleasant enough prospect providing it occurs before I’m busy writing. The summer will I hope, see me in a fury of creative joy comparable to that experienced when working on Volunteer. But until then, have a lot of research to do and I must get to Salt Lake for that.
I see my characters from a great distance, but they are alive and moving. Now I must maintain my place until I have the necessary background to move into a close-up.
Watched It’s A Wonderful Life on TV last night. I won’t spend time outlining the story, but it did send me to bed full of thoughts. The story made me wonder how the lives of those around me, family and friends, might have been if I hadn’t been born. Or if they hadn’t. This exercise brought the realization that perhaps our individual and unexceptional lives are important, and even positive. And, oddly enough, that our less desirable deeds can sometimes, in the fabric of life, be put to positive advantage—though one should obviously try to the best one can. But it might be a psychological exercise that those who suffer from depression should try. Most of them, I think, would feel much better afterward.
“Feeling seems to be the root out of which thought comes.” Van Dusen/Persona to Person – The Problem of Being Human by Rogers and Stevens.
January 3, 1975
What a rain storm tonight! Thunder and lightning and occasional wind gusts tossing hard driven rain and hail against all things outside our cozy house. I’m taking the kids skiing at Summit, providing the roads are open. Paige went with K. today and did very well so we’re all going to try it except for Pete. I’ll begin work at Hook on Monday, 10 to 4, four days a week (sob). But it will save money, and so ease the pain.

Published in: on November 11, 2018 at 10:06 am  Comments (4)  

Christmas 1974

Christmas Day 1974
The children are playing “Oil Well,” Christmas carols shake the radio, and the fire keeps time with crackles and snaps on the hearth.
Woke in the night with a ticklish throat so got up for lozenges and to put more wood on the fire. I ended up sleeping on the couch. Wept over a lost and bedraggled puppy in a dream and then 7 o’clock thundered in my ear.
I opened Dad’s gift first, the big box yielding a most divinely elegant evening coat of black velvet fastened with black “frogs.” Gorgeous! And a perfect fit! He was delighted to get my phone call and enthusiastic thank you’s. He is a treasure! So many boxes to unwrap, most for the children but some for me. A white and purple robe from Paige, steam curlers from the boys, and various other objects. Games for P.J. and Joe. Mostly clothes for Paige. A ring from Pete under the tree. I bought it with the money he gave me, so it was no surprise, but I like the simple green jade cabochon set in the plain gold band.
After getting the turkey in the oven and breakfast dishes washed, I called Anne. {my eldest sister} Wanted to reach out to my own first family—to know the old circle is still there when we were the kids—symbolic of nothing more than fellow beings irreplaceable and unique. Honoring the common ground from which we sprang—bound by memory, tradition, and blood.
I would have called middle siblings too but didn’t because I must be aware of long distance charges. The phone bill with its cruel January face always appears devoid of holiday cheer.
December 27, 1974
Thunderous rain overnight and into the early morning. Now, in the evening darkness, the moon splashes silver puddles over the parked car. It’s been one of those divided days, chopped up with people dropping by, being lazy, and then going into great activity. Paige had another date with K.M., a black haired, black-bearded young fellow but she is as cool as a September river—deceptively beckoning but chilly. They went to Timberline and out to dinner but she refused to go for the evening as well. So a half hour after he brought her home, she was off to see her girlfriends! But am glad to see her stand-offish rather than boy-mad. Her mind will decide for her when she marries. One hopes the heart will follow. I was the opposite. Heart first—then the outraged mind screaming protest.
The boys and I went to Portland yesterday and I exchanged the curler set for the curling iron which I used today. Rained buckets again. Got two books on astrology—one a table of houses.
Finished reading the biography of Mark Twain and now am 2/3’s through the one of Tolstoy. A fascinating but contradictory man–bursting with spiritual conceit while alternating with periods of self-abasement and remorse. He seems to exaggerate the “typical” Russian character. His photos show him to be a handsome, brooding man—high cheek bones, fierce smoldering eyes, and a powerful leonine head. In fact, he resembles a huge panther or African lion. One can imagine him a great cat transformed into the semblance of a man, for he has many of their characteristics—the periodic dissipations with women and cards – (tom-catting, then losing interest—cat and mouse games). There is the seismic energy and hypnotic belief in his own prowess—dislike for anything not self-generated—his fickle interests for all but himself. It seems so logical, that in theory, I could almost believe my fantasy fact.
The biographer seems somehow unsympathetic and yet, faced with the man’s own autobiographical writings and diaries—his veritable history—it would be difficult to maintain the respect and admiration one develops on the reading of his books alone. What a revelation to see Tolstoy as a man driven by furies yet able to maintain a supreme self-regard despite his acknowledged fault—and excesses.
*note: In later life Tolstoy found religion but his book, Resurrection, lacks the wonderful insights of his early works. The hero, once he had embraced religion and abandoned his charming and idiosyncratic personality, became a pale and disappointing character. This reader was not inspired to read further.
Now the Russian writer, Ivan Turgenev, seems a person of solid stature. I’ve seen his Fathers and Sons on a library shelf. I must read that as well as his biography.

Published in: on November 4, 2018 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment