A Break

Written by Winona Wardwell
Art by Winona Wardwell

Every winter I fall into a similar pattern. The weekends in Boston once filled with friends and work turns into days in the mountains, alone. The chaos leaves me somewhere on the Friday night drive through New Hampshire on the way to Vermont and it does not return until Sunday. As I drive further north the landscape turns into hills covered in snow instead of salted roads with glass buildings. On these weekends, I always ski, even if it’s so cold that my eyelashes freeze together or the rain turns the snow into 7-eleven slushies. I get up in a small cabin that always has a fire going and put on my layers of smartwool and tightly braid my hair. I eat a rushed breakfast before driving quickly to the small mountain, the mountain that is known for its cheap lift tickets and rocky terrain, where the ten year olds do black flips off the rocks with their sixty year old teachers and the lifties never wear gloves.

I clip on my skis, which were new a year ago, but now resemble the rentals my sister has. But even with the scraps, turning the matte purple into a zebra print streaked with white, they are beautiful. They catch the ice and they glide through the snow. They move together in a learned pattern, they adapt to my jerky stops and jumps. 

On the chairlift, I sit next to my sister. She is the polar opposite to me: where I am smooth and collected, she is dynamite flying down the hill. She races for speed and flies down the mountain faster than the racers who practice here all week. I used to resent her cautionless style, but now I envy it. In the past, we always avoided each other skiing, but as we have grown older and fallen in love with the sport together, we always sit together. The chairlift is old with 178 red two person chairs, and it takes about 15 minutes to get up the hill which would turn many away, but it grows on you. I love when I get lucky and land on chair 16 which is painted blue for the couple that got engaged on it. And after a long ride up my skis finally land once again on the hard New England snow. I glide down the mountain singing the song I have had stuck in my head all day.

I make careful turns and dig my skis into the ground. What once felt uncomfortable now feels naturally like running. The stress leaves my shoulders and my back as I stand a little straighter flying down the hill.