Wednesday, June 27, 2007

miss fifi's feelings for snow

"North-West view from the Top of Mount Kosciusko"

Eugene Von Guerard painted this, in 1866.
Having spent time at the academy of Dusseldorf in his youth, you can see here his sense of the sublime, in the German romanticist tradition, in this remote Antipodean place. His excitement and awe of its wilderness and majesty.

Only four more days, and this fish heads off to Snowy Mountains.
By world skiiing standards, The Australian alps are a different proposition. The kind of snow, and weather conditions are quite different to say, Austria, Whistler, or Niseko. Nonetheless, I love it here.

I love the snow gums, and I love the brightest blue of skies above. I love the views of the eucalypt forest stretching down below the snowline, far away and untouched, untamed. I love its wildness, and its lack of order, the un-europeaness of it all.
I have never skied anywhere in the world in such lovely conditions: the sun out, the wind low, the trunks of snow gums gleaming with a thousand colours
One has to choose carefully one's company though, in order to avoid the hideous social jousting that goes on down there. I am lucky enough to be in a ski club which is pretty downmarket, started by European migrants way back, and still has an kind of working class ethos, which is unusual.
The members may not be Latvian coalminers any longer, but it's a funny place with a strange kind of competitiveness as to who can actually still be wearing the oldest ski item. I was winning at one stage, as I am currently wearing the SECOND only pair of ski pants I have ever owned. Yep, I bought my current pair five years ago when I decided that the second-hand pair of 1960's ski-skins that I bought for $15 at the charity shop were possibly an offence to be seen in.

In the last few years, I have been attempting to learn to cross country ski. I can't say as I'm very good at it, but I can get around. Here we are being coached by the resident expert, Friedl.

I will be flying and wandering.
Each day, I will spend a while just on the boundary facing towards Mount Kosciusko. Then I will launch down th mountain, top speed, down the face, through the trees, speeding down past the lifts into the gully, and up the other side. Hopefully, I will make it up to this road , and skate home. It's such a blessing to be able to fly.
In an extremely civilised gesture, the Italian caffe bar now has internet access. I will be checking, every day, so do leave me lots of comments and tell me what your'e up to. I won't be cooking or driving or anything usual for a while. I will have all the time in the world.
When I return it will be a completely different story.

"North West View from Mount Kosiusko"
Eugene von Guerard, 1866
University Melbourne Art Museum


Arcturus said...

Wonderful entry ... I absolute love the way you write ... the descriptions ... one can feel being there in a place I've never been and probably never will be.

One small thing, though: I thought Mount Kosciusko was part of the Snowy Mountain range and the Alps -- i.e. the Southern Alps -- were in New Zealand.

fifi said...

I changed it. You are right.

Big Pissy said...

Lovely post. I agree with Arc.....the descriptions are wonderful.

I loved to cross country ski when we were living in Germany (back in the 80's). I was too much of a chicken to try downhill. ;-)

meggie said...

Oh! I so hope your snow visit is salubrious!!
I would actually hate it, but there you go.
Dont ever wish to spoil another's delight!!

We used to live an hour's drive from the 'hottest' ski field.. I am an iverse snob, & am proud to say... we never visited! Haha!

meggie said...

As you were 'iverse' as "inverse", obviously!!

it's the little things... said...

Won't you dry up if you leave the ocean, little fish? ;)

Also, what is a ski club? A social group from your city that travels to ski?

meli said...

beautiful! i remember snow gums in the snow, there is nothing quite like them.

rackorf said...

I've never visited snow gums in the snow yet. Don't get much of either here.
You have inspired me to add it to my list of things to do, places to go.
Don't let the dingo's get ya.

fifi said...

hey rackorf...

there is a dingo, apparently, just up the back of the lodge in the bush. I swear last year when I went out one night up the Charlotte's pass road in the snow I got a bit creeped out, I'm sure it was a dingo.

well I hope it was a dingo, there are some hideous feral dogs in the snowy-monaro region. BAAAAAD ones.

Hope you get there one day: its wild and fabulous.

fifi said...

Little thing: its a lodge where you have membership and stay there when you want. Usually have race teams and programs for the kids. This week I am helping out on Junior Race week: they learn fun stuff and can represent their little club in the Alpine races.
Rather than a commercial lodge, they are usually much cheaper and tend not to contain painful people with status anxiety.
weirdos, yes. Aspirational millionaires, no.