Epiphany on Ski

Epiphany can mean a lot of things. In its more general use, it is a revelation; a moment in which you suddenly understand something in a new or clear way, but of course today is 6th January, Twelfth Night: the last of the twelve days of Christmas.

This is always a rather sad day in my calendar because it means that Christmas, New Year, and my birthday are over for another year. I’ve always rather liked having a birthday on January 5th. For me it extends the festivities, and even as a child I always insisted that the tree should stay up for my birthday, but of course now that’s over and later today I am going to have to take down the decorations. It’s ten to nine in the morning, still dark outside, and I confess that I am shamelessly sitting with the tree lights on, the stars lining the window are lit up, and the Christmas candles are burning for one last time. I can see the sky outside the window is grey. Full daylight is being delayed by stormy weather and heavy rain but it will arrive shortly, and then I will have to get on.

Despite my reluctance to remove the trappings of Christmas, I know that once the room is cleared there will be a sense of space. I can’t hold on to things forever. And of course there are new things to look forward to, as well as lovely memories to enjoy. In two weeks time, Charlie and I will be going out for dinner together (a rare event). Charlie’s company are celebrating this year, and they are treating their employees to a number of special events, of which this is the first. We have decided to splash out and spend the night in a hotel so that we don’t have to come home on the late train. Personally as a profound emetophobe, I’ve never been very keen on taking transport that is frequented by the very drunk. But I am looking forward enormously to a night of comfort and (hopefully) a bath. I don’t miss it so much now. After five years I am used to it, but I still love hotels and their endless supply of warm water and clean white towels, and if I can, I will wallow for hours. If I’m lucky I will be able to check in before Charlie and take a while making myself gorgeous, something else I don’t get the opportunity for as often as I would like. For Christmas I received a lovely new coat, and for my birthday a pair of boots and a tiny clutch bag (the first of those I’ve ever had) and I am looking forward to trying them all out together.

There is also the rest of winter to look forward to. Hopefully this rain will stop soon. It’s been going on now since October and in my opinion, it’s about time it stopped (I have tried glaring angrily at the sky but it hasn’t had any effect). Regardless of the weather here though, there will be snow in the mountains, and that means skiing. We have just spent the weekend in the apartment that Charlie’s work rents, and on Saturday we ventured out to do some skiing. Not the downhill kind, but cross-country, which is very traditional in Norway. We only invested in the skis last year, and so far we are just learning. This is both exciting (I always love learning something new) and on occasion painful. There are some significant advantages over downhill. The boots are really very comfortable (it is, after all, rather like going for a walk with long skates attached to your feet) and compared with downhill skiing, it’s both cheaper and relatively easy to head out without having any lessons… but (perhaps because of the lack of lessons) there does seem to be a considerable amount of falling over involved. There are an infinite number of ways to do this, but as it is obviously of interest to those who have never tried, here are a few of the specialities (with apologies to dancers everywhere):

Splits: When the left leg goes one way and the right leg seems quite determined to go the other.

Progressive Side-Step: When you have come to a standstill (usually due to exhaustion) and you realise that someone is coming up in the tracks behind you, it is sometimes necessary to perform this move. It involves stepping sideways out of the tracks and then realising the snow beside them is too soft to support your weight.

Reverse fleckeryll: When you arrive almost at the top of a rise and realise that you have failed to provide sufficient forward propulsion to make it right to the peak.

Basic weave: When, despite your most profound concentration upon ensuring they remain parallel, the tips of your skis inexplicably become tangled.

Forward lock:This manoeuvre occurs when you attempt a faster glide down a hill involving a curve and (perhaps unwisely) decide to attempt use of the tracks (see picture below). The forward lock occurs when the tips of your skis fail to follow the bend in the tracks, instead digging into the snow resulting in their coming to a complete standstill while your body, failing to receive the message, carries on.

Windmill: A particularly extravagant move involving the rapid circling of the ski-poles in a propeller like motion. This action can of course precede any of the other moves listed here.

One of my personal favourites here:

The Hip Bump: Any attempt to glide smoothly down anything more than a slight incline can result in the Hip Bump. The movement begins with a failure to throw the weight sufficiently far forward, resulting in an acceleration of the skis whilst the body fails to capture sufficient momentum to keep up. Ideally this manoeuvre should be performed in its gentlest form, which involves elegantly sitting down on the skis and continuing gracefully downhill, but if performed in its more extreme form it can result in:

The Whip: A rapid backwards motion wherein the Hip Bump is closely followed by a more painful thump of the head backwards onto the packed-down snow. This particular move usually requires a period of recovery (preferably involving chocolate) before further skiing can be undertaken.

Ski tracks:IMG_0363

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