The Return of Winter

Catching up on Homework

Whenever a kid is home sick the day seems somehow out of whack. I never really know what time it is. The markers of “drop off” and “pick up” are gone, and the urgency to complete a project or do an errand before a daily time deadline is suddenly removed. I usually try to cancel or put off any commitments that keep me away unless its unavoidable, so by evening I feel like I’ve been in a time warp. Gillian was home sick today, and slept half of the morning, so I didn’t want to leave until she awakened and I could at least get her some food and make sure she had what she needed. By the time I got out of my pj’s to walk the dogs it was noon.

I spent the morning getting caught up on email and other unblogworthy (I just coined that expression apparently…) stuff while watching the weather do its March crazy thing. Rain pelted the house, first from one side, then the other. Wind whipped the branches around on the big evergreens that surround our house like rat-tails. The sun broke through and shone brilliantly for a few minutes then disappeared again for an hour. It was a good morning to be in pj’s, and I didn’t mind nature’s performance, particularly considering that the rain in town is once again snow in the mountains, Robby and Gillian are on spring break starting Friday and the skiing could be the best of this whole winter. After having spent Saturday in the garden in a tank top, and yesterday before the rain in short sleeves, today was a flashback to another year’s winter.

Among my emails this morning was a forwarded link to an article written by my friend Mark Callaghan that appeared on the Crystal Mountain website a couple of days ago. I feel compelled to include it here because I have so many friends who are backcountry skiers who might read this and then read the article. Mark got caught in an Avalanche about a month ago and is lucky to be alive. This is his story. He’s now up and around and a testament to resiliency.

When Robby came home from soccer this afternoon, he read it. I sent it to Charlotte who was skiing at Mammoth last weekend. She called just after Robby had finished reading Mark’s story and filed her own scary story. She had not yet read Mark’s.

She told us how she had gotten separated from her friends and “figured out” a route down the hill; about how she kept going left and down because she could see how that would take her around a ridge and back to the bottom of the mountain. Apparently her estimations were way off. She ended up way out of bounds, having maneuvered her way through some cliffs, ending up below the village, which is well below the ski lifts. She somehow managed to arrive at a bridge across a semi-frozen lake where she saw a lone person who directed her to a shuttle bus back to the area – leaving in five minutes. It was in a parking lot just around a corner. There was one other passenger; a cross-country skier. He was surprised to see her and asked her how she’d ended up there. She told him her story. He told her that he had been involved with the retrieval of a body from the area she’d just come through not long before. He could not believe that she had done it alone and without knowing where she was going or where she would end up. I told her to go back to her dorm and read the article and let me know that she had done so.

I’m not usually one to worry about my kids when they are out skiing, but for some reason, this weekend I kept thinking about her and wanting to know that she was safely back at school. Charlotte is usually a safe skier and not one to do the crazy thing…

A little deviation from the gardening theme of yesterday and the day before, but I felt this was really important. If you read this, please pass it on to your skier friends and family.

My photograph is of Gillian, hard at work, catching up on math assignments from being sick. It was a valiant effort… about 3 hours of doing square roots of every kind imaginable. After about 2 1/2 she said she was having trouble concentrating. Go figure!


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