Grateful for Snow Memories

First day we both skied free--March '17.

First day we both skied free–March ’17.

I miss the smell of snow skiing. I know that sounds strange but moist, snow-covered evergreen trees under a sunny sky emit a wonderful aroma nothing like those cardboard pine-scented car fresheners. On your first ride up the lift that fresh smell fills your senses, and you’re off!

We gave up snow skiing almost two years ago by choice. I planned my 70th birthday around skiing for free at Monarch Mountain, surrounded by as much of our family as we could gather. I was crying when I popped my bindings off for the last time, but I knew it was right.

I had made a conscious decision that I wanted a healthy old age that allowed me to take long walks, travel, go to Zumba class, and spend time keeping and playing with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was no longer worth it to me to risk being wiped out by a 300-pound Bubba from Oklahoma who decided to try snowboarding for the first time! God love his sense of adventure, but I’m staying out of his way.

To be truthful, I was a “fair weather” skier anyway. More than once my husband and I got out of the car at a ski area where the wind was blowing so hard we could barely open the car doors, thought “no thanks,” went to breakfast and drove back home. We preferred fresh snow, bright sun, and temperatures at or above freezing, so a couple of days of March skiing were enough for us. But oh, the memories of skiing over the years.

Last ski day! Jan. '18.

Last ski day! Jan. ’18.

I first skied at age 22 by default while living in Germany. My then husband convinced me to ride the lift up to the top of the Zugspitze in Garmisch because the views were fantastic! Somehow I got down that day, praying all the way that my five-month-old baby boy wouldn’t have to grow up without a momma. Eventually I took lessons from an Austrian ski instructor whose only English was, “Bend zee knees, UP!” That was enough information to keep me happily cruising the blue, intermediate slopes safely for 48 years.

But the time on the slopes is just part of my bank of snow memories! How I remember two little rosy-cheeked boys in zip-up snowsuits struggling to carry their skis through the parking lot because it was time to “hit the slops” as one liked to say! I remember returning to ski condos with a real fire crackling in the fireplace and the smell of chili in the crockpot. I remember hot tubs with family and friends, hot mulled wine, and a lot of board games.

I know there are more snow memories for my husband Jim and me to make in the future. Maybe we’ll take up cross-country skiing again, or try snow shoeing. Maybe we’ll tag along on a family ski trip and just enjoy stoking the fire and stirring the chili while everyone else walks around with bowling balls on their feet and tries to keep their fingers and toes from freezing.

Snow on Pine TreeIt will happen because the snow still calls to me. This morning the sun came out after a healthy dump of snow over the last two days, and something in my soul said “ski day!” Several Colorado resorts are already open before Thanksgiving so it should be a great season. But this morning, it was enough for me to wake up my husband and convince him to take an early morning drive to a diner for breakfast. Feeling the fresh snow crunching under my feet as we walked in made me happy, as did the hot coffee and scrambled eggs. Of course our view of the snow-covered mountain range against the blue Colorado sky was more than worth our travel over frosty streets.

I’m grateful for all my snow memories. Those in the past and those still to be made! Hope you also find something for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving. When we look for them, blessings abound.


  1. I, too, no longer ski … and I miss it, but only on ‘fair-weather’ days! For me it isn’t by choice. My body has been through enough to make the decision one of wisdom. Some days I still mention skiing to my husband and family as I wave goodbye to them as they head out to ‘hit the slopes’. My husband just laughs and says, “There’s no way!” Maybe someday I will surprise them … and maybe it won’t ever happen again … but my only longing is for a nice and easy green slope, which causes me to chuckle … for there I would be skiing alone, as in separate from my family (as well as those 300-pound Bubbas you mentioned). I remember years ago while skiing with a group of ladies at Loveland I observed a man in his eighties gliding along at his preferred leisurely pace truly delighting in the bright and warm sun-shiny day on the mountain terrain. It gives me hope that perhaps one day when John is ready to ease up on the need for ‘steep thrills’ we just might ski together again?! Somehow my musing brings a poem, which, Nancy, always reminds me of you:
    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –

    • Jan, if you do that, and if some ski area is smart enough to have a “Seniors only, no snowboards allowed” time on the slopes, I may just have to rent some skis and join you!!

      • Jan Keller says:

        Wouldn’t that be fun!!?

        • Lovely writing Nancy!! I ski once or twice a season just so I still experience the beauty you describe.
          The last time I went I sat down on a bench at the bottom of a lift and looked over to see a woman in her 70’s with an oxygen tank. She was skiing with oxygen! It was inspiring to me. I thought “Wow, never give up.”
          But I don’t doubt the wisdom of knowing when to quit in order to protect your body for other activities.
          I hope to ski with granddaughters this year so I keep up my personal training. But they are just learning. I know my limits.
          Thank you for the beautiful reflections!

          • Thanks, Mary! Be careful on those beginner slopes with the girls! It’s worth the risk to “make a memory!”

  2. Jimmie Bohannon says:

    Beautiful…almost makes me want to see snow again…almost!!
    Beautiful day here, not quite cool enough for a big coat!!
    Love you,

  3. Peggy Ellis says:

    I grew up on the side of a N.C. mountain, but we didn’t ski. Instead, one of my best snow memories is guiding a sled around multiple pine trees, as often as not lying flat on my belly and guiding with my hands, sans rope by choice. And I lived to tell it!

  4. Nancy, I say go for the snowshoes and I will join you. I may break mine out today with all this fresh snow.

  5. Gay Hope Mayles says:

    What a beautiful post! You paint such amazing pictures with your words! I enjoy the snow so much. I love looking at it, driving in it, andI even enjoy shoveling it. I have only skied 3 times….the first time I blew out my knee and the second and third time I took 2 days of lessons. I was doing pretty well, but ended the day with a big fall……no injuries, just a big cartoon-like fall. So I never tried again. I have always regretted that I never skied down a mountain with my boys and my grandkids. I do love tubing though!

    • Just saw this comment! We call those kinds of falls “yard sales!” Clothes and equipment everywhere! Glad you weren’t too badly hurt.

  6. Melissa Walker says:

    Nancy, my brother Rolle called me today and told me to be sure to read your blog. He & I enjoyed skiing for many years & your wonderful descriptions made us feel like we were on the slopes! Hoorah for enjoying the views, sounds & smells of Colorado’s mountains at every age! Loved the photo of you & Jim – Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. alice scott-ferguson says:

    Wonderful reflections as ever!!
    Courageous and wise are you,in all things, dear friend!
    Joyous and grateful Day of special Thanks
    love to you both

  8. Lea Ann Brookens says:

    Love LOVE your writing. We, too, are in this season although I haven’t quite made the final plunge into no more skiing!!

  9. Elizabeth H. Van Liere says:

    Well, Nancy. I finally got off my lazy bones to read your Snow article.. I love it.
    At the same time it reminds me of giving up my driving. Yuck! Like you, I decided it was time. As one of my friends said, “I quit while I was ahead.” So, while I miss making a quick run to the store or library, now that snow has fallen and, I expect, will continue to fall, I look outside and think, I don’t have to drive in this!
    P.S. I love your article!

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