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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ever Want to be a Ski Bum?

As I prepare for a quick weekend of skiing, I am reminded of the many wonderful trips with family and friends in recent years.  It has been such a blessing to return to skiing after several decades away from the mountains.

One thing I have always found interesting is talking to people on the ski lift.  I am not one to start conversations with strangers, but ski lifts are fairly intimate and silence sometimes screams at me.  Plus, I have a certain fascination with skiers and what they do for a living.  Here is a sample of things I’ve jotted down.

Many were there on vacation with family.  No surprise there.  The most interesting people by far were locals that took the day off work to ski.  Just what types of careers allow people to head out on a random Tuesday for fresh powder?  

Now, I need to point out that my sample size is small.  If you take out all the Texans I’ve ridden with, it cuts the field in half.  What these folks do I don’t recall.  Vacation apparently.

But back to the locals.  There was the young programmer who told me he works when he feels like it.  Was he on skis or a snowboard?  Board, of course.  I mean, if you are under 35 years old you are on a board.  Once you’re older, the skis are a lot easier so long as you stay upright.

There was a substitute teacher who told me he never answers his phone when the snow falls.  It is all about priorties people.  Priorities!  I mean seriously?  Would you?

The winner, by a measurable margin, was the fruit tree trimmer.  Who knew there was such a job?  It makes sense I guess.  I just didn’t know the subtleties  to the arborist career path.  Though I never gave it much thought.

He was fascinating.  Work is slow for tree trimming in the early part of winter.  So, he does a lot of reading and skiing November through January.  I asked him how he became a fruit tree trimmer.  It turns out he got on a work crew as one of his many random jobs and had a gift for it.  Before long, the head arborist at the tree company had him leading his own crew.  It is very physical work as you might imagine so he got a degree “just in case I get tired of climbing trees or ski into one up here.”

This past trip I met a former part-time ski bum who retired from work at Los Alamos.  He said once he could ski everyday he no longer enjoyed it.  So, he became an instructor and guide for the disabled skiers unit (Adaptive Ski Program) there at Ski Santa Fe.  He takes a shift every third day and fills in when others are sick or out of town.  His plan that afternoon was to ski with a young girl who had cerebral palsy.  “She doesn’t like to get up, but once she does she can really go, go go.” 

On days off he skis with friends.  Most of whom appear to be a close reflection of this man.

The joy in his voice was clear and I regret that I always held a fairly negative view of the “ski bum” (although it might just be jealousy).  Regardless, it is cool that he is doing something he loves and helping bring joy to people with disabilities. 

“When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.” - Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow

Run in Peace, Rest in Grace