Why is it that an exposed mountaintop feels like the safest place on earth right now?
In the midst of grocery store chaos and mass cancellations, it seemed strange to load up the car this morning to go skiing like we do every Saturday.
On the other hand, a ski mountain is an ideal place to practice social distancing. Everyone is wearing goggles, a face mask, gloves and helmets and we all work hard to ski much more than 3 feet apart from each other.
So our family of four packed sandwiches and drove to the mountain, taking a break from our usual classic rock mix to listen to the dreary news about Covid-19 on NPR.
When we pulled in the parking lot, we were able to nab a primo parking spot just a hundred yards from the lodge. On a typical day, such luck would be cause for celebration.
But today it fell a little flat because we knew it was because so many people were opting to stay home.
Should we have stayed home?
The answer was clear once we put on our gear and got on the chairlift. We would have been crazy to stay home because the day was gorgeous, with abundant blue skies and birds chirping. . The fresh air and bright sun took my mind off current events and I was able to just feel great.
But as our chairlift approached the top of the mountain, a heavy, low cloud bank rolled in, darkening the sky and shrouding the sun. Our bright sunny morning had turned into a gloomy evening.
It felt like a metaphor and I was forced back into the reality of lengthy school closures and a disruption to our lives unlike anything we’ve ever known.
We got off the chairlift to ski down and I was met with a second metaphor. Once you’ve headed down a ski trail, there’s no going back. All you can do is pick up speed and make it to the bottom as safely as you can.
Most of the time, these one way trips are fine, but I’ve found myself on very steep black diamond trails with my three-year old wishing I could go back to the beginning and start again. Knowing that’s impossible, we wobble and slide, doing our best not to be scared as we work together to get to the end of the trail without any tears or bruises.
The response to Corona virus feels a little like this. We’ve headed down this path of cancellations and distancing and testing not knowing if it’s the right one, but unable to turn back. All we can do is wobble and slide, doing our best to stay safe and sane as we search the horizon for the end.
Fortunately for us, today was also windy and the cloud bank blew past us to reveal the sunny blue sky behind it by the time we were headed up for our second run.
We took run after run, basking in the wide open trails and the super short lift lines. We ate candy and took pictures and laughed at the tree that people have decorated with bras, underwear and Mardi Gras beads.
It was such an epic day that both kids fell asleep on the drive home. I turned off the news and cranked up the tunes.
I’m not denying the reality that we’re facing. But I think it’s ok to take a break from it, at least for a few Grateful Dead songs.