by Merisa Sherman
Like all of you, this past weekend threw my life into turmoil. Two of my four jobs have disappeared in the blink of an email and our beloved ski resort has turned off the lifts. As the threat of COVID-19 virus grows stronger, increasing numbers of our community are withdrawing to the safety of their own homes and social distancing. Instead of our normal patterns, we are drawn to the constantly changing updates and daily needs of life like food and toilet paper. The whole world seems to be spinning out of control with no signs of it stopping anywhere in the near future … and then I went outside and lost myself on the mountain.
When I moved to town almost 20 years ago, I did so with the intention of escaping the moldy stacks of every great library I could find. After full days in basements under fluorescent lights surrounded by books that no one ever reads, I would come up the stairs only to be blinded by the natural light of the sun.
To counter balance this, I took a job teaching skiing on the weekends and fell in love with a boy who skied all the time. Something about the mountains changed me and became my safe place. From the Green Mountains, I felt an energy, an almost frightening connection that I still struggle to explain. I was reborn.
This past Sunday was no exception. I met two wonderful women and we spent hours together (6 feet apart) making our way up the mountain with our skis on. We began our conversation with the one thing on everyone’s minds, but as our skis repeatedly slid onward and upward, the world seemed to slip away in the rhythm. The snow beneath was firm and grainy, making an overwhelmingly loud shushing sound, like Mother Nature wanted us to be quiet and to just listen to the world around us. As we moved, our talking stopped and we focused on the simple yet complicated movements of our bodies. The ball of the femur moving smoothly (or not) in the hip socket, over and over again as we made our way up the hill.
We traveled in the middle of an empty trail, under a bluebird sky, surrounded by nothing but the sounds of our skins and all the birds singing merrily. Every once in a while a chipmunk would dart across the trail, busy on his daily errands and we would smile. As we made our way up Frolic, we couldn’t help but stop and notice the view of Skye Peak from the top of Vagabond. The snow covered trails were empty save for a few random black dots, other skiers earning their turns and escaping into nature. While the beginning of our journey had seemed empty and apocalyptic, it now felt comfortable and soothing, like this was how the world was supposed to be. A world full of trees and snow and peace rather than the screeching clunk of the chairlift or the constant shouting of pundits.
As we come into the next phase of whatever this is, we remind ourselves that we not only live in these Green Mountains, but that we are part of them and they us. Even as we physically distance ourselves, these mountains connect us in ways that we can’t explain but know are there. We breathe life from the fresh Vermont air, draw strength from our beautiful mountains, and courage from our beloved communities.
I’ll admit, I was frightened for the future when I saw Killington’s announcement at 11:45 p.m. on Saturday night — but then I went for a walk in the mountains.