02.13.2009 - 03.01.2009 30 °F
When my mother dropped me off at college she herself was "oriented" by school staff and assured not to worry if she didn't hear from me often - "no news is good news," they said. I believe the same applies now that I've run off to a ski town in the French Alps. Only, Chamonix is better than college. Yet similarly to college, I'm still not learning French.
I suppose things would be heaps easier to order and jokes in French would be funny were I able to pick up some of the language while living here. Trouble is the kids have lost all hope of teaching me and my nose isn't big enough to make those nasal sounds correctly. I just end up snotting over everything, and really I'm just exhausted from cleaning up after myself. I've noticed that I can read French quite well, but speaking and listening are, well, a foreign language to me. I know it like I know Hawaiian - not at all. But I have figured out the commonly used words and use them with a less than local accent.
Superman, a Turtle, & a Cow at Le Tour
Learning how to ski has come along better than my French. I recently took a few lessons from the very talented "Eddie" (instructors rarely have last names) and my skiing has really improved. I can say that I knew how to ski, I just didn't know why I was doing what I was doing with my skis and now I do. I also have learned to never ever do some things ever again. And plant my poles. But really Eddie did a great job explaining why we do what where - much better than I'm explaining now. The result has been a growing confidence in and greater understanding of my skiing, especially off-piste. Well worth the time & week and a half's wages (sounds expensive but was manageable).
Knitting has also been taking up a surprising amount of my time. I've found I make a pretty killer headband. If I didn't know it before, Chamonix works on the bartering system, and cold ears require a stylish and (dare I say) well-crafted solution, and I am happy to get my stuff out there. Here friends help friends out, especially if they're in the market for a kick-ass double-layer pro-knitted another-hyphened-word head accessory.
Not surprisingly, I've had a few new experiences here - I recently enjoyed the novelty of skiing one afternoon and golfing the next. I played a terrible but wonderful round of golf on the oldest course in France and while I was well out of practice, I had a great time nonetheless. Even more novel was skiing with freed heels, yes, telemarking! I spent the entirety of the first run trying not to fall on my face (it blows my mind that that's possible), but before long I was steadily shuffling and enjoying the rhythm of it all. I'll definitely be back out.
Lastly I've learned that wearing a transceiver doesn't guarantee you'll be in an avalanche, it just feels like it does. Still I'll be wearing one when I go touring, hopefully in the next few weeks.