Welcome to the Dolomites
I left the house in the dark, 6:45 a.m., the street stone silent and glazed with a layer of ice. Rain drops came down confused about whether or not they should be snowflakes. Our third story house was getting snow, at street level, rain. We were snowline.
“Buon Giorno”, I looked up from my feet to see the “Nonno Vigilante” (Supervising Grandfather) standing beneath an awning. He is responsible for getting school kids safely across the street, it may be Saturday but kids are off to school. I made my salutations and went back to staring at my feet as they careened around on the icy walk.
Minutes later I was safely off the ice and cruising on skis through the field behind our house. My goal, ski rando race training on piste behind the house. 1400 meters up. Arriving at the parking lot, a group was developing, the biggest I have seen. One piece lycra suits, lots of long, muscular legs and little chatter. Cold, dark, wet and intimidated is what I felt so I cruised through muttering hellos, I knew I wouldn’t be alone for long. Sure enough, at the first steep section they swarmed me. I jumped on as if it were the peloton, feeling natural sitting on wheels (ski tails in this case).
Up, up, up. Abundant and impressively large snowflakes were piling up on my shoulders and head, the sound of breathing all around. The feeling was back, this is what I live for, home, amongst my people. Here, the sports I value are mainstream while in America they are fringe, oddball, and best left not mentioned.
90 minutes later, as we approached the top our group was engulfed in thick clouds and swirling snow, visibility a thing of the past. Instead of continuing up the lower angled normal piste, the group veered off to the “diretissima”, a steep shot straight to the gondola station. This is where I said my goodbyes with only rear ends to wave to, not by choice but out of concern for dropping dead. No matter how fit you feel you are here in the Dolomites, there is always some grandfather more than willing to remind you of what “fit” really means.
Making my way up, alone, it hit me. Not any life revelation or realization, not a skier, but the smell of the restaurant preparing lunch. Garlic, tomato sauce, bready things and basil. Red, white and green just like the flag. Puttering along in the clouds, frozen solid hair, and quite ready for a descent, all I could think of was the food I would not be enjoying as I had zero Euros on board.
The top, no sight of the group, wind ripping now, freezing, skins off, goggles and jacket on, time to drop to my home. Spanked but feeling Bliss.
…………Fuchs, this is for you.