Friday, February 26, 2010


Well, I survived the ski trip. But I think I have only the brevity of my séjour to thank for that! For as I predicted, I proved beyond any possible doubt that when I say “I’m awful at skiing,” it is not what the French would dub “2nd degree” (tongue-in-cheek) humor. I have bruises in places I didn’t know could be bruised, muscle aches in muscles I didn’t know I had. Taking the stairs at this point is pure agony, but I did it. I skied the Alps. Or more accurately, I slid down the Alps on my face.

My introduction to le ski was brief but intense, all the more so for having gone with G.’s family
—both nombreuse and particularly, how shall I say, exuberant. Being virtually the only girl in the pack, I had to make do with a decidedly masculine, “sink or swim” approach to a choice selection of activities: snow hiking, cross-country skiing and some bizarre form of postmodern sledding involving thin, plastic contraptions vaguely resembling over-sized shovel heads. Zooming down the snowy forest trails we went on these things, narrowly avoiding violent collision with tree trunks and terrified children. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned inner tubes?

And as for the cross-country, that too was lost in translation. Somewhere in my life I had managed to develop the obviously erroneous impression that this alternative form of skiing was “easy
—in the sense that it didn’t involve big gnarly descents—but oh ho ho! Whatever was I thinking? The uphill segments were just fine: no falling over, just a bit of slipping and sliding. But alas, what goes up must come down, and those segments were most assuredly not just fine. Thank God I sprained both of my ankles back in high school, because that endowed them with an elasticity that kept me from doing any serious harm to myself when I fell over … and over … and over … and over, on down the hill, twisting them in all directions because cross-country skis stay on no matter what. Who on earth invented this sadistic, ridiculously hard-to-learn sport? The jury is going to have to seriously deliberate before delivering a verdict on any hope for a possible Katrin Goes Skiing, the Sequel.

At least I was able to experience the singular beauty of the snow-adorned Alps and the extreme pleasure of returning to a Paris several degrees warmer than the one I had left. Rainy, of course, but definitely warmer. Dare we speculate that spring is somewhere nearby? I for one certainly want to. Not that spending my evenings cuddling with the radiator isn’t fun and all, but I have fond memories of days gone by when I could actually sit outside, on the balcony, and not even shiver! Ha ha! Or were those but the wild imaginings of my sun-deprived brain? Paris weather often brings back memories of reading Ray Bradbury’s short story “All Summer in a Day,” although the comparison is not entirely fair on my part; I should also point out that Parisian weather patterns are perfectly capable of swinging 180° in the other direction, resulting in record-breaking heat waves and extreme fan shortages such as that of 2003. Great year for French wine, incidentally. Rungis food market, on the other hand,
will never be the same.

In any case, my skiing ordeal is over; here I am, back in Paris, snuggled up on the couch with a cocktail in hand, jazz in the background, and the extended edition DVD of Lord of the Rings to savor as I will. And I have to say, this beats any ski trip I can think of.

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