Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ski Picnics

Loïc's idea of the perfect picnic is squatting in the woods with a swiss knife and a piece of cured meat. I like luxurious spreads complete with proper linens, silveware and glasses, and food that has been thoughtfully planned for the event. We have come to compromise on picnics when we ski. This past Sunday we went for a nice jaunt into the forest. Along with a thermos of hot pumpkin soup, we brought simple things. I have hauled very big meals to far-flung places, but simple picnics also have their place.

The first ski picnic I have the pleasure to remember was one prepared by my mother. I suppose I was 10 or 11 years old at the time. This was when my father went all out and bought everyone cross country skis when they were on sale at Marjax. My mother and I soon lagged behind the group. I was just learning to ski and hadn't dressed properly, so I was hot, tired and hungry by the time she pulled out our individual lunches, each in their brown sack. In addition to some sandwiches which I remember weren't too remarkable because of some tomatoes that had gotten everything soggy, she brought out nuts and dried fruits, and something I could not believe: chocolate. I suppose someone had told her the things one was supposed to take skiing because my mother would never choose to feed me chocolate or any sweets if she could help it, or that was my impression as a 10 year old, anyway. I remember that as the first time my mother and I ate chocolate alone together. My spirits lifted immediately after that special picnic with my mom. She said she was proud of me when we finally reached the station to find the others drinking hot cocoa in the lodge.

The next ski picnic I remember very well, it was the first one I had ever prepared. I was to go skiing with my dear friend Willy. We were about 14 years old, I think. Willy was a remarkably graceful person, and was a champion figure skater. We spent a great deal of time together during the holidays. When I suggested we start doing some cross country skiing, he really caught on fast and before we knew it he'd convinced his parents to get him some skis and he got his mother to drop us off at the trails. He was very good at convincing his parents to do things. For the picnic that day, I carefully prepared corned beef sandwiches on rye with russian dressing, with lots of crispy lettuce and pepper. For good measure, I topped them with thick wedges of cheddar cheese which where I grew up was made locally and was extrordinarly good, but at the time I didn't realize how good it was because I had never had any other. We were alone on a rather advanced trail, and lo around lunch time we happened upon a shack beside the trail. We sat down and had our sandwiches, which were packed tight and heavy and full of goodness. The snow was deep and there were icicles hanging pristinely from the roof at the front of the shack with the sun sending off beams of light in all directions. A cardinal came to join us. I was just thinking how great it was to be eating that sandwich when he said - "This is the best sandwich I have ever had". I glowed with pride and we laughed for a long time, I don't know why. It was a pretty good ski picnic.

Note to mom:

Lest we forget your last visit:

Hey mama! If you're in the mood for another adventure, please book your tickets soon! I miss you very much! Love, me.

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