Tuesday, July 15, 2008

notes from a fish in the mountains

Day 2

My half moon shaped stretch of sand lies 500 kilometres northwest, 6 hours driving, and almost 20 degrees difference in temperature. No doubt at this minute, Gregorio basks in the sun, as he does, with all the other gentlemen.
In this place many more clothes are required: When I arrive I feel the mountains take a great icy breath inwards. Slowly.

When they exhale the resulting blizzard rages so loudly I am convinced  a colossal monster is  trying to tear down the building, it howls all night long and through the next day. I feel, as always, that I am in another universe.
The last run of the afternoon: My small son and I, having endured the blizzard all day, find ourselves in the near dark. The wind drops and to our astonishment there are drifts of dry white pwder snow piled all around. Real snow, as fine as dust.
We are at the top of a T-bar track, which has stopped running for the day, and the track is covered in powder.
I follow him down: he is fast, and we do tight little turns down the narrow track.. We pass a group of kids bogged in the new snow just before the steep bit and we fly down in perfect rhythm together, the snow parts at our knees like silk, and billows out behind us.

This is rare snow here, more like Europe. Dry and soft and thick.

Day 5

I lie on my bed for the afternoon and watch snow all like feathers. Just before it hits the ground an updraft catches the flakes and they do one last loop before settling. A baby rosella hovers by my window squawking, its juvenile green fearthers making way for crimson: it looks precisely like a toffee apple with half the toffee licked off. It has a tremendous go at attaching itself to the icicles hanging from the window frame before taking off again.
Over on the mountain that afternoon for the first time I can remember, I saw rosellas up at the summit, sitting on a rock. Usually they stay down lower, in the cover of the snow gums. They look so startling and beautiful: an improbable splash of colour in the monochrome landscape. I love them so much I stand still every time I see one.

The central heating here gives me feverish dreams. The dreams of fish frozen on the riverbed.

Day 7

Snowboarders are, as a rule, feral.
If they are reckless and dangerous in my general vicinity I am known for having a go.
A group of them narrowly missed cleaning up my boy on a narrow pass, so at the bottom I skied over.
hey, I said
‘If you sound out those letters on the sign, you might be able to read it. I know there’s four letters and all, but you could try.’

They all stared at the crazy old bag.

‘just like this: s-l-o-w.
Not so hard really, even for a snowboarder’

It took them a moment, but by that time I had disappeared and their reply failed to reach me. So far I have managed not to get beaten up.

Day 9

A small group of us find ourselves stranded at the longest run on the far side of the mountain. All the chairlifts except this one are closed due to high wind, so noone can come over.

I fly down the mountain, My carve turns perfect and even. I sing and keep time.
I wonder how I m still able to do this sometimes, and I am thankful that I can.
I realise that after almost a decade I HAVE FINALLY STOPPED LIFTING MY INSIDE SKI.
When I were a young lass , on my old, long skinny alpine skis, my signature was a kind of little jump turn like a bunny hop. The thing was to lift , whereas with parabolic skis, you have to push into the turn.
Today I realised that I have finally adapted to my skis.
I skied like a dream. Finally.

We have the whole place to ourselves. After a few hours we realise we are rather hungry, and have to trek ourselves out. Thankfully due to the late season there are some parts which are not in deep snow, because twice I have to carry my skis and walk.

Day 10

The sun is out. At the top of the run I feel I can see forever: the moon revealed in daylight against a cobalt sky.
I consider this my winter solstice, that here is where I come to be cold, to be within the thick of winter, to see the sun as far away as it can be, so I can know the turning of things.
This landscape , for me, this year holds a poignancy that it never has before.

As always, I look out over the horizon, before I fly down.


bluemountainsmary said...

Oh Miss Fish - you may have been out of water - but clearly the frozen variety speaks to you too ...

and through you to us - in your words and photos

curious said...

Love those rosellas

jellyhead said...

Oh wow fifi, you're in wintery heaven!!

I wish I could ski - you make it sound like flight....

Sending you a warm hug,

Anonymous said...


Molly said...

Beautiful, startling birds! Loved your exchange with the snowboard[duh]ers!!

little red hen said...

Oh these photos are making me very excited. I am at last going to see snow! And I am beginning to think that I might even give the toboggan a go now. I had to laugh at the interaction with the snow boarders, I have felt that way before myself!!!

Bryan said...


little things said...

You are so out of place there with your bundled up clothes and white vistas. But I'm glad you're making it work!

meli said...

these photos are amazing. gum leaves covered in snow! and rosellas! i wish i knew how to ski...

Regulus said...

"Gregorio basks in the sun, as he does, with all the other gentlemen. Who?

Re. my Guthega comment, I thought that's where you went because of your Flickr picture "misty guthega."

I never knew Australia had such a snowy side to it. And a 10-day mid-winter ski lodge vacation sounds very nice indeed.

Anyway, welcome back. I missed your updates.

meggie said...

Thankyou for sharing your snowy interlude.

Anonymous said...

Oh just look at that wonderful snow! (sigh!)

I had a bad incident with my youngest in France. Some woman (a skier not a snowboarder) came zooming straight down a narrow red run straight into him - she was completely out of control, whipped him right up in the air. I nearly poked her with my pole!!

But yes, you must ski in Europe - you'd love it!

fifi said...

Regulus, Gregorio is the handsome fellow in the previous post.

Rb, yes I have skied in Europe and yes, I love it!
(just not in France!)