Stay fired up, sleep with your skis on
The eternal flame, contrary to popular myth, is not eternal.
On a dark night in the middle of the January blizzards, a mighty wind extinguished the Olympic torch at Squaw Valley Road and Highway 89. It was not the first time. Since the Winter Olympics in 1960, the flame has been snuffed out at least two or three times that I know of, probably more.
Some say Fidel Castro or the Chinese are to blame, but they are innocent, at least of that. Unpaid gas bills are not the cause either, though the flame must burn for a hefty price.
No, it was just the wind.
Some eco-terrorist, and alternative-energy groups have been accused of dousing the torch, and several have claimed responsibility, but there is no evidence to support such claims. CSI Squaw Valley has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Olympic torch was extinguished by an act of God ” She sneezed.
Winter also seems to have come and gone with the wind. There is still much snow to be enjoyed, but my purist attitude is that, unless daytime temperatures remain at or below 28 degrees, winter is over. Spring skiing is great but skiing is still a winter sport. Forty and 50-plus degrees Fahrenheit are not winter temperatures. Winter, real winter, makes only crisp, dry, cold snow, the kind that makes that loud, crunchy sound when you walk on it. There is nothing like it for the ultimate in skiing pleasure. There is just no comparison.
I am not counting winter out, however. Anybody who knows anything at all about the Sierra Nevada knows you can’t extinguish winter this early, unless maybe you’re Al Gore. I wonder what he was doing that dark January night when the flame flickered and died?
I know what you’re thinking. Quit picking on Al Gore. I can’t help it. I love picking on people who think they have all the answers, especially if they think they have all the answers for everybody else.
I pick on me for the same thing. That’s why I spend so much of my life sitting down. My legs aren’t strong enough to hold up my head because of the weight of all the things I know. Laying down is becoming more and more natural. You know what I mean. I’m not the only one with this problem. It’s actually quite common.
The only way I can escape the problem is to sit, lay down or ski. When I put my skis on and surrender to gravity ” poof! ” the weight disappears like the flame on a candle in a mighty wind. All my senses expand like a million mirrors zooming in and out of focus as the speed increases. They reach out like feathers and fluid muscle embracing snow and mountain in front of, all around and behind me.
Instinct exults in the thrill of danger, taming the wild forces and welcomes invading obstacles. The flame burns bright. It shines from deep within another realm. I am the flame. It never wavers. In and out, in and out it goes, celebrating its own birth and
death like a phantom in command of, and at ease, in both worlds.
Sleeping does the same thing for me. Hey! I bet I can dream better dreams if I sleep with my skis on. I’d have to lower the floor or raise the bed and let my feet stick out so the skis could spin 360 degrees as I roll over to change sleeping positions. It would definitely work on the top bunk. Assuming the fetal position would be a little difficult with skis and ski boots on though.
Aw, forget it. Who wants to give up sleeping in the fetal position? I don’t know about you but it’s one of my favorite. Shorter skis would work.
Sleeping with skis on might even get me in to a Warren Miller ski flick.
The smothering of the Olympic flame by winter winds makes you wonder if the
Greek Gods are trying to tell us something.
Man made symbols never last. Be the flame. And good luck paying your gas bill.
is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.