Opening weekend. Whitefish Mountain.
The gear, the skis, the boots that make you walk like a zombie. If you are a beginner, the awkward first few runs with your ski instructor on the bunny slope. You feel like a toddler learning to walk once again. If you give into it and stop insisting you should be "better" at this, it's like remembering something wonderful your body forgot. Your teacher gets you the point where you are (in theory) less of a risk to yourself and others, and sends you off to the grown-up runs to practice.
The lift chairs at those runs come around much faster, and then it happens. You take that leap of faith and sit back into the air, a moving strip of frozen metal and vinyl scoops you up up up beyond the hubub, past the treetops, into a silent cold world, a puffy bird perched on a moving branch with no safety bar.
Up here you can see the mountain's proud profile, the summit hidden by clouds, you know the highest face of the mountain is smiling at the sun as they bless these strange 2 legged animals with bright polarfleece instead of fur, defying weather, gravity, sore knees and common sense to shuffle, sashay and shoot down the mountain on skis, chasing joy for it's own sake.
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