/ Personal / Seasonal /
It’s Memorial Day. When I was thirty Memorial Day was when I went skiing: spring skiing: Tuckermans Ravine, Mount Washington, White Mountains, the Presidential Range, New Hampshire: Pinkham Notch: park, pack, climb, camp, climb some more, and ski!
I’ll never forget Memorial Day 1969: the Tuckermans Ravine Lip, notorious, terrifying, was for the first time in decades holding some snow. I bent into a hard comma, still couldn’t see anything but hell over the edge, sprang into that hell on faith alone, the bottom of the world, the other side of that line, invisible; people, hoards of spring skiers, screaming encouragement from Lunch Rocks. I free-fell. Gulp! I landed on an edge, swung my hip like a mambo, leapt back into the air. I’m still on my feet! I’m still alive! Jeezus!
Great. Immortal. Let me say one thing: one of the greatest things about the Tuckermans crowd, the people screaming for you to dare the Lip, is: they’re every one of them an athlete: even the spectacular girl with the Presidentail Range tits in the wet tee shirt: she, every one of us, no exceptions, got there by climbing the mountain. No other way. Yes, there’s a road, yes, there’s a RR; but not at Tuckerman’s. You can drive to the summit of Mount Washington, but you cannot drive to Tuckerman’s Ravine. One only climbs it, and from Pinkham Notch.
A minute later, back on Lunch Rocks myself, I heard everyone yelling encouragement to my dog: “Angus! Angus! Come on, Angus!” Angus was terrified. He’d followed me up and over the Lip. Now he was terrified to go the other way. In another moment he’d fall, he’d bowl the climbers over. They’d all fall for 100, 200 feet, with who knows what injuries. Finally the climbers protected themselves from my terrified dog by handing Angus hand over hand past the Lip and down.
Silly for me to have taken him. He would nip at skiers’ ankles, the skis razor sharp steel edges, just out of sight in the snow.
It’s Memorial Day. It’s raining in Paris, so the matches at Roland-Garros are cancelled. Tonight is game 7 for the NBA West: but last night when my girl was late picking me up for the dance I cursed her out. Now who knows whether or not I have a girl friend: I shot myself in the foot: and the face. But, dammit, it’s what she did, it’s what she failed to do, I’m just reacting. So. I’m sitting here at the Mac, stuffing cotton in my ears. I don’t want to hear the recorded, broadcast screaming a neighbor is listening to as “music”.
I sit in my trailer, the trailer Catherine gave me: Catherine dead since 2004, ninety-six years old, blinded by macular degeneration – I’m catching up fast, Honey – and largely deaf, crippled every-which-way since she had polio at age two. Catherine was so old she was the widow of a WW I veteran! It’s hot, but I have the windows on my east side, shut. The AC died years ago, but I didn’t want to fix it even if I could afford to fix it: I’m proud to have acclimatized my skin to year-round Sebring. If I hadn’t cursed out Jan I’d likely be at her house now, her beautiful house on the lake, a private lake, maybe fishing from the kayak. But even there the neighbor plays radio music loud from his boat dock, his yards filled with beautiful Latin women and their children: nice view, but oh, that godawful noise.
Catherine was the only person I ever met, ever heard of, who declared that she hated music. even Beethoven. Catherine said that the orchestra sounded to her like it was falling downstairs. I was appalled. But Catherine, that’s how half the music sounds to me too now. You didn’t say it was an orchestra falling down stairs; you said it sounded to you like it was falling downstairs. Yes, me too, I’m getting there: age 77 I’m catching up to your disabilities: and I don’t mind: much. I’m not gonna put a bullet in my head, but if God wants me today, it’s OK by me: I’m all cooperation.
Funny how unequally I’m deaf in different areas. Even with my VA hearing aids in I may not understand what the weather girl is saying. I don’t understand any of the lyrics sung by the karoake guy at the dance; but I hear the music still very damn well: not that you can prove it by me, but I think so, that’s my opinion.
Still on My Feet
That same day before ascending over the Lip of the ravine I’d sat on Lunch Rocks and done my own gawking and screaming. It was everybody’s first crack at the Lip, prior to that snow-blessed year the rocks were exposed, there was nothing to ski. You could ski below the Lip, above the Lip but not over the Lip. The two guys who tried it just before my own ascent were pros, instructors at a New England ski school somewhere. The first guy put his shoulders over the Lip, tumbled foward, make a somersault before contacting his skis with anything. Ditto the second guy, exactly. Those somersaults were not intentional. They did great to come up on their skis. My own motivation was age: I was 31 or so, life passing by.