Posts Tagged ‘equipment’

Some things will never change…….

The challenge came forth from way down south where the sun beats warmly on the African earth. Oh the memory of that warmth and clear sky, just the medicine to escape from the reality of our Canadian winter!  

We had been house bound for a few days and had clocked up a 25 centimetre drop of snow all in one day! The wind chill bit into the bones as we shoveled and cleared the driveway. It was a never ending job! We had hit the comfort foods and braved the streets to alleviate the cabin fever. Then ‘the dare’ came in and the spirits lifted. It was just too enticing a challenge to ignore and besides it would distract us from an otherwise dreary cold day.


The ramp takes shape....

The ramp takes shape….

But don’t you believe it……

The plan was put in motion. What equipment would be needed? It was obviously going to be a snow setting so all the ski paraphernalia was needed. Then the scene had to be set and this involved the building of a ramp. Some jumping technique would add a bit of flair to the short prescribed video footage. Thank goodness for the house full of engineers and our software ace. It was a case of all hands on deck. The snow shovels and extra garden ones were rounded up and the heaps of snow were reorganized into our very own Winter Olympic ramp. Sochi here we come! Bear in mind that at the bottom of the back garden there was an icy stream and a forest of mature elm trees that had to be avoided at all costs.

Think about it before you break the rules…..

We were finally set up, cameras were poised and the ramp glistened against the backdrop of trees. It was now close to minus 20 C and the breeze had picked up.  We proceeded to the top of the hill. Let’s do this! The thick ski jacket was pulled off to reveal the requirements for the challenge……a bathing costume!  Note this was not a baggy pair of bathing shorts but a speedo! I giggled uncontrollably and was banished to the side of the garden where I would not distract. I was reminded that this was a serious matter. I duly removed myself to a safer vantage point where I could safely chuckle into my coat. The skis were clicked into place, the ski poles dug in and a few warm up stretches were performed. Count down…..3…2….1 ….and my son was off. He slid down the track and flew up into the air over the ramp, twisted and landed perfectly. We all let out a whoop and I ululated from my banished position. He did it! He met the challenge!


Lights, camera, action.....

Lights, camera, action…..

It’s just the way it is……

The cold does strange things to you when you are cooped up for so long. It is similar to being stuck out in the bush for long periods of time. In South Africa it is known as being bosbev…k. So we survive the cold version of this malady by amusing ourselves with ‘many firsts.’  I am grateful that ‘the challenge’ took place in our back garden.  I am sure some of our neighbours might have called in the paramedics and had us rushed off to ‘groen dakkies’ if they had noticed our antics!

Groen dakkies: the asylum in Cape Town

bosbev…k:  bush mad.

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All geared up and ready to go!

All geared up and ready to go!







The amazing ski patrol.

The amazing ski patrol.








The air was crisp and the white snow- covered hills beckoned. It was a fairyland out there! This was our second winter in Canada and I prepared myself for another round of skiing. I had been suitably decked out with all the right gear which included my recent thermals and a helmet. I could not persuade the men in the family to omit this piece of equipment. It pressed my ears and felt like a potty perched on my head.  My snug fur hat would have been my first choice! I felt the excitement rise as I penguin walked out of the club house. With my skis nonchalantly perched on my shoulder, I made my way to the beginner’s slopes.  I certainly had no illusion of my prowess on skis.

There was a flutter of panic as I realized I would have to master the ski lift before I could test my skiing skills. Leaning forward, bending my knees and the stopping method of ‘pizza slice’ was all that I had run through to refresh my mind. I had forgotten about the fact that I would first have to get up the hill! My son kindly accompanied me and explained the process of ‘alighting from the lift.’ Remember to push off from the seat! The first attempt was a snow plough of my head into the snow. The second try involved me falling backwards on my rear.  Fortunately the snow was fluffy and soft. I was not having much success with this jolly ski lift! I must add that I did manage to recall some of the skiing maneuvers from the previous year. I gingerly applied these skills and made my way down the slope. So I had at least accomplished the first hurdle. I could still remember how to ski! The ski lift swung around the corner…..third time lucky! We jumped on and made our way up. My heart thumped as I ran through all the tips that I needed to follow. What was the worst that could happen?

The lift approached the icy landing and I braced myself. I duly pushed off but as my skis touched the landing, I slipped. My tall ungainly frame flew and my right arm cart wheeled round to break my fall. There are few disadvantages to being tall and this was one of them! My arm did not reach the ground but collided with the ski lift instead. I just lay there for a second or two. I knew I had broken my arm as I could feel it…… the numbness and then a warm surge. I had seen enough broken bones in my years as a teacher and one look at the disfigured limb confirmed my suspicion.

The ski patrol strapped me into a toboggan and raced me off the slope. It was a wonderful swift ride with these experienced skiers. They made it look so easy! As I watched them pull me along, I knew what my next snow adventure would be……dog sledding. Yes, I fancied racing through the snow on the back of a sleigh. But that would have to wait……

There is something very humbling about learning to ski. You become childlike again with the lack of confidence and the reliance on others to share their skills with you. Unfortunately I will have to wait for next winter to pick up where I left off. In the mean time I have other lessons to learn…..to accept and enjoy the help given to me by my patient family and friends. My right arm is ‘resting’ in a sling while it heals.  My amateur left arm is having its moment of fame and is the hero of my day!


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My stomach churned as I looked down at my feet. They were trussed up in gigantic ski boots! I opened the door and the cold air blasted across my face. I pulled my fur jacket up against my chin and gingerly ‘penguin walked’ down the stairs. Right, let’s do this!


So there I was, all fitted out in all the right equipment complete with helmet. We debated about the headgear as I had no intention of breaking any speed records. Then the vision of me careering off the side of a slope came to mind and ‘action girl’ thought that it was probably a good idea. My stomach lurched as I gazed up the steep slopes and contemplated my fate!


 My skiing instructor was a retired, gallant gentleman and he carefully guided me through the initial steps. I flew up in the air a few times and landed with ‘bene in die lug.’ Getting up after a fall was no easy feat either, as your skis were all tangled beneath you. I was all legs and skis! At one stage I hurtled off the course and was caught by a kind hand and brought back on track. Slowly I gained confidence and began to push my heels out and weave my way down the slope. My God, she has got it! I screamed with delight! There was no holding me back now. It was amazing to feel the snow slip beneath you and I just could not get enough. I raced up and down and even walked up the slope when the ski lift experienced mechanical problems.


Eventually I started experiencing some of my own mechanical problems! The body does not quite work as it used to, although it had surprised me with its endurance and agility on this particular day. An ankle bruise and a sore neck from a spectacular flip backwards made me submit and I made my way to the clubhouse.


 As I walked back I had a wonderful sense of achievement. I know that I had only played around on the bunny slopes, but I had walked through my fear and not given in to it. I had played like a kid again and screamed and shouted with joy. I am sure it will be a different story when I wake up tomorrow and feel the stiffness in the old bones!

 ‘Môre is nog ‘n dag.’

Action girl!



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