When I was a kid, we used to vacation at Lutsen Mountain---I know it has always been a great resort. Now I realize that they are also very friendly neighbors, and they make it easy for locals to visit.
Shelby, our Grand Marais friend Lars and I decided to take on snowboarding last Saturday. We're all pretty comfortable skiing, so we wondered--how hard can it be??
Lars was enthusiastically emailing us, reassuring us that the temperature was above zero and not too windy down by Lake Superior, so we bundled up, and headed down. (Incidentally, I've just discovered Underarmor long underwear. I don't know who invented that magic stuff, but it feels like I've been shrink wrapped in an electric blanket. It REALLY works. Take it from me.)
My first realization: snowboarding isn't anything like skiing. Lately I've been Telemark skiing, which is still a challenge for me, but basically the same skill. My friend Susan described snowboarding as stapling her feet to a plank and then trying to get up. I still haven't learned how to get up right. I have to flip myself around and get up on my knees. I was hoping to look cool like all of the snowboarder dudes, but I lost that dream right out of the chute.
The Lutsen bunny hill has a dandy new invention that took us up the hill on a conveyor belt. Truly a blessing for me, (recently disabled by the plank). Heavy adults only slide back down a little bit near the top--not a problem after the initial panic.
We sweated away the cold cold day. It's amazing the core body work-out that I got from falling (kind of scary with both feet stapled...to the plank) and then flopping around like an inchworm to position myself to get up. It was a lovely white and blue day at Lutsen, and it felt great to get out in the frigid sun. I was reminded again that life can be really fun. Too many indoor days, and I can forget that.
See the hills behind Shelby? The steep ones? Before I was disabled with the plank, I had no trouble with any hills. Now, the bunny hill was my new world.... I started looking at those hills with a sigh, like they were mountains. Did I mention that Shelby and Lars are actual talented athletes? Able to take visual information and quickly transform it into physical action. I was still trying to get up. Why couldn't I just stand up from a sitting position???? I guess I could have taken a lesson, but what a waste of time it would have been for someone to stand there and give me hints on how to get up?
It didn't help to have the 4 year olds scoot by me. And all those people snowboarding down the big hills. Did they start all out like me? Very humbling.
In the end, I did manage to shift my weight around and sort of carve my way down the hill. Maybe I'll even brave the chairlift to Ullr with the kids next time. It's a great thing to find a new skill ---just out of my grasp, yet clearly within reach. It's flow. It's the best kind of fun, and we adults don't take advantage of it nearly enough.
All three of us were smiling as we hobbled back to the car, and later to the town sauna/hot tub. We were grateful for Lutsen Mountain, for blue sky, for snow, for Lake Superior, and especially for snowboard helmets.