A Belated Post
We took a hot chocolate break this morning and what normally happens is the kids get a hot drink and maybe a chocolate bar and rest up, whilst I stingily sit there with my water bottle and sandwich refusing to spend any of what little money I have left. Today, however, as I sat enjoying the dependable blend of ham and cheese I was presented with a hot chocolate by one of the girls who had taken note of the generosity and kindness of the boy in the group who had got her a hot chocolate. What a sweet and wonderful present I thought. Then, another girl got me a mars bar. Another display of selflessness that brightened my day and showed me the sweeter side to my group. Then she offered me some sweets. It was like Christmas had come early with all these presents, but of course today is not Christmas, but Valentine’s Day. Regardless of this strange holiday, I think they would’ve done the same anyway (other than the heart-shape sweets) and it was a really nice surprise. Then the rest of the day returned to its normal state of carnage.
To help with the kids skiing we played a few games that challenged various aspects of their technique. One of which is a game of cat and mouse where in pairs, they’d take turns to vary turn sizes and shapes whilst the other has to follow their trail and remain close. Before doing this my group had joined forces with another, better group, and so when they paired off they mixed up the abilities as they went with their friends. The boy from my group who is one of the weaker skiers ended up his mate from the level above who just happened to be the best in the higher group. It didn’t end up well. The good skier flew off down the hill doing fast big turns after a series of small turns and as he got to the bottom where I was waiting, my kid was still tracing the route of his second turn. When my kid got to the trickier section which his friend had flown through, he unfortunately caught an edge and face planted onto the snow, slightly winding himself, and slid down on his face as he vibrated along the piste. Luckily the other instructor was sweeping up at the back and helped him back to the world and onto his feet.
Another game we played was to answer one of the questions which has concerned me the most. Not if there is a god or what the meaning or life is, but if you can play hide and seek whilst skiing. I don’t know why I tried to answer this using my group in the middle of a lesson, but it wasn’t the brightest idea. The first mistake was allowing them to freeski down an agreed section of slope, whilst I turned away and pretended not to watch. It took only a few seconds for the first wild youths to dart off the side of the piste and into the tricky, deep powder. Two of the girls made it one whole metre before flipping over, face first into the snow before settling amongst the white powder for their hiding place, which wasn’t a bad idea as only their vibrant jackets gave away their position. Another girl contemplated following her friends but sensibly remained on the slope after observing the cold wipeouts, but this was a less effective tactic as she wasn’t at all hidden as she led motionless on the piste in full view. The last one to be found was the boy in the group who had taken the opportunity to ski further away, making the most of his free reign, but he also lacked any camouflage as is bright orange clothes glowed on the side of the run. After picking up the easily found class we tried again a few times to equal levels of inconspicuousness. It is quite a hard feat to hide on white snow when you’re brighter than Joseph’s technicolour dream-coat with nothing to hide behind and nowhere to go. And then we plunged down into the tree line. As soon as I noticed the kids eyes light up at the prospect of big green trees to hide behind it would have been a good idea to end the games, but we had time to kill before lunch and I was irresponsibly curios to find out what would happen.
A tree well is the immediate area around a tree that has been slightly warmed by the living organism, resulting in softer, weaker snow that when skied on, can collapse around the tree to form a hole. It is rare that the small circle will collapse, but the chances are dramatically increased when a ten year old girl decides to hide on top of one and lie in it. The first three kids were found without a worry. They all had the same idea and tried to hide behind a branch or lie against a stump, but they were still brighter than a thousand suns and spotted immediately. It didn’t take long to find the final pink illumination bundled up in a small tree, but it did take a while to get her out of her pickle. With an admirable commitment and undying determination this girl had flung herself into the middle of three saplings and crumpled into a pretzel between branches into a indistinguishable muddle of limbs, skis and trees. After realising that she might require some assistance to free herself I walked over to her and waded through the snow to her aid. I’ve been watching kids fall and end up in tantalising tangles all season but none more impressively irreversible than this one. Young kids have the outstanding ability to be more flexible than a shoe lace and not break and how this girl wasn’t even in an ounce of pain whilst all her joints twisted in ways impossible to look at without wincing, was amazing. As she sat in her little tree well, waist deep in snow with one knee following the sun and one intertwined in a tree she just laughed at her situation as I dug and pulled her out.
You can’t play hide and seek on skis.