Friday, 12th, August, 2011.
Its been almost 2 weeks since I wrote a blog. How quickly time flys when you’re slidding. It’s not that I havent had anything to write about it’s just that I have been so tired. So over whelmed with work. I look back on these few weeks and it is a dark tunnel of night times.
What springs to mind immediately are the many occasions that I have sped uncontrollably down a craggy slope, over small cliffs, flying unwillingly into darkness.
One very memorable occasion last week. Myself, Brandon, Hamish and Andy all of who I would now class as very special friends were gulumphing down one of the ridges turning off the guns as the temperature had dropped below snow making levels and the weak light of the dawn was turning the mountain from its heavy night into that rather stark, blank canvas of the dawn. A clean quiet picture uncluttered by the rush of the day.
I was trailing behind, My fellow snow makers ahead of me and Andy on his skis way below in a narrow gully. I had a large red shovel with me and I was tired and bored with walking. I had been walking all night. Doing what seemed like endless laps from the top of the high chair lift down the mountain maintaining the guns. I decided to shovel it down the ridge. It was crunchy and icy on the back of the ridge but going to either side it was a slick menacing ice. I sat on my shovel with it between my legs and began to slid controlled along the high part of the ridge. It all started well but soon the shovels lack of steering became apparent and a real problem as I began to slip from the top of the ridge down to the gull where Andy was. I quickly got rid of my shovel in an attempt to slow down but by that time I had already gathered enough speed that even with my thrashing hard boots and my pleading screams of ” oh no oh no oh noooo!” I didn’t stop.
I was on the hard blue ice. I panicked as I flew over a big bump and realised exactly how high the slop was. I cursed myself for being so reckless as I began to turn around against my will. In the light of day the mountains features all showed me their danger and their unforgiving. I honestly thought I was going to end up in hospital but some how I popped into the gully my shovel a small speck way below still machetying its way to the bottom. I finally came to a stop and lay panting. My team mates now far away and on high still on the ridge shouted down to me. I gave a wave and then lay down again. A surge of adrenaline coursed through me and I became hysterical happy.
Another time I was running to get on a chair lift and just before I sat down I realised that the metal slatted seat wasnt down so that if I was to sit down it would be like a child sitting on a large toilet bowl. I turned to face the on coming chair lift which was on full speed and I managed to pull down the seat. unfortunately as I did so the chair was already gaining hight and was around my waist, I managed to trap my coat in the seat and was jammed holding on unwilling by one arm being fast transported into the air. I managed to jerk down and lose my coat and feell to the ground.
The night, every night is full of these storys. Constant sightings of shooting starts, some so close you wonder where they have lander. Hugly grueling long hours, lonely, cold, awkward. Trying to do the simplest things in the most challenging weather. Hitting cold hands, despairing at stubborn broken guns, the tiring irritating constant fight to keep balanced. your adrenaline depleted as you almost fall over for the hundredth time. A job given to dig an endless amount of ice, below it power cables waiting to electrocute you.
And moments of unexpected joy. Ominous clouds rolling below you, so close you feel you could leap out and land on them. The nights sky teaming with stars brighter than you could imagen anywhere else. Twinkling starts, turning from blue to green to red and white. Moments when the sky completely clears and the moon is full, below you the silver farm land stretches out, the valleys dark pools of shadow, the hill tops bathed in a magic silver. Vail’s of silver cloud which hang over the mountain peaks with a deliberate manner Dry powder snow streaming down the mountain like an army of insects. Disk clouds hanging at angles over the peaks like a halo. Shapes and shadows in the dark, suddenly transporting you to a land of mosters and spirits. Things catching your eye, eeri howles down valleys, gusts on high so strong they push you over.
These experiences all shared with a few. Together we walk through the dark and cold, oftain never speaking, watching each other struggle. Myself and Brandon found icicles larger than ourselfs hanging from the roofs of the high noon chairlift building and with our yeti sticks and the pent-up frustration of that horrid night we threw them at the ice and watched as they would crash loudly to the ground. We spent almost an hour working our way along the building dislodging these monsters and reveling in their decent and demise. Then Andy pulled up on his skiis and had a go and with his first throw managed to lose his yeti stick to the top of the roof. Shared lunches, out from the cold, shared sun rises on top of the world. Shared joy and hate and madness.
Our time at the BnB has been a constant gride. Garys rudeness and his talent for making us feel uncomfortable has worn us both down to the point of admitting that we both deeply regret moving in here and wish to leave as soon as possible. Having to work over 12 hours then come home and do another 3 or 4 hours is just plain madness and entirely my own fault.
Although I am used to it now I can see the effect it has on me. I am irritable and have become mildly retarded. Having uneasy dreams, constant feverish sleep walks and forgetting things and making silly mistakes which I usually do not make. I have devised a plan to leave early. I told Carleen and Gary that I would be moving to day shift soon. They both said that this would be useless for them work wise so we would have to leave then I changed to days. So simple and it didn’t involve getting their backs up. They even became quiet friendly and jolly when they found out we were leaving. In a twist a day after I told them this lie it became true as Shaz our boss told us that soon the snowmaking season would come to an end.
There is so much strangeness in this house. So much about others lives which to me is sad and weird. A part of me wants to unleash all this pent-up frustration and let you all know exactly how cranky these people we are living with are. And I am sure in time I will let you know, but now I am too tired to do so. Another aspect of working so long is that when you actually get a break why the hell would you want to relive it by writing about it all? you wouldn’t is the correct ansew unless you were at work with nothing to do. Which is what I am doing now. I am sitting in a small heated booth, my job is to step out every 10 minutes or so and fill up the diesel tanks which I am running on the chair lifts.
The thing which really dominates my memory of this week is the news that my Grandma died. One moment she was in hospital, the next she was getting worse, then my Mum gave me the news that she had passed away. It had all happened even before I had time to really know how I felt about it. Although I didn’t see my Grandma much I remember the last time she was in hospital was a powerfully scary experience for me. Seeing her so frail and ill in such a wretched hospital. The idea of death and growing old was thrust upon me. What a shock it was, how morbid, how hopeless. I remember my Mum did a good job of cheering me up but I remember it being a turning point in my life. Since then at odd times, in weakness and even in strength the idea of being decrepid, alone and so helplessly near to death have visited me uninvited and all this life loses its meaning for me.
That was many years ago and since then my view on death has become ever so slightly less scary, but this was just shock. ” Grandma passed away today” I remember reading Mums message on MSN. I instantly remembered the last time I had seen her, just before coming out to New Zealand. She was sitting in her chair in the living room where she lived with my Aunty. She was smily and spoke quietly. While myself and Mum and Wendy spoke she just listened and laughed. She was wairing her tartan dress which I have always liked. We had bought along a silk pillow as a present and I remember her stroking it with interest, we had also bought some chocolate which she wasnt allowed, Mum took them away and she showed surprising strength trying to keep hold of them. She looked like she wanted to say something but couldn’t. I said goodbye to her with a hug, confident and fully expecting to see her again.
I have one uncomfortable memory of Grandma, She was always so generous with presents, mainly books. Every time she would visit or when we would visit she would give us heaps of new books. I remember one visit when I was a child when she didn’t have any presents for me. ” why don’t you have any presents for me?” I remember asking her. What a thing to say, what a spoilt brattish thing to say. I cannot remember her reply but she was calm and didn’t appear angry at all. I regret it so much now, isn’t it strange what we think of sometimes. I wish I had asked her more questions, I wish I had got to know her better. I had a dream about Grandma the week before she died but I cannot remember it.
The relay race has lost another, one more has passed on the baton and can finally take a rest. God bless you Grandma
Tonight we were running diesel up the chair lifts. There is a storm coming so we need to get as much as possible up to the higher parts of the mountain. We loaded the tanks on to the backs of the chairs and then Monty went up to the Movenpick return while I filled up the tanks and then sent them up to him to drain. We kept filling them up and in fact went so far as to completely drain the bases supply of diesel, so there is none left for tomorrows bus or any of the other huge hungry machines used daily. Wooops!
It wasnt very cold tonight and there is definitely a feeling that the season for snow making is coming to an end. Snowmaking is no longer a priority so us snow makers are helping out in other departments.
I was speaking with a friend last week, I voiced my intent to study Mandarin in China rather than going back to the UK to do so ” what has England done to offend you?” was the reply. England has done nothing to offend me I replied. ” you know everyone here thinks that Sarah is taking you for a ride”. My friend went on to explain that some people thought that Sarah was giving me the long con. I got angry and my friend told me not to be annoyed at him, that he was just delivering what other people have been saying.
I deeply hate that kind of shit stirring and then trying to hide behind the old ”dont shot the messanger” ploy. Its like someone punching you in the mouth and then them saying ” dont get angry with me someone else told me to do it.
I have always known that Sarah didn’t get on very well in the UK, partly from my own inability at that time in my life to look after anyone but myself and partly from her own personal reasons. I have always respected my friends surface acceptance that I got married and if they don’t like or simply don’t have any connection with Sarah that doesn’t bother me. Somethings should never be said and insulting other peoples partners is one of them. I completely disagree with getting everything out in the open. especially when it comes to opinions unasked about sensitive subjects. Keep your mouth shut or go and bite a pillow.
I remember talking to one of my Gardening customers back in the UK. Someone who I deeply admire and respect. We were sitting outside on one of my lunch breaks. One of his sons was getting married to a Russian woman and he had asked him is there was any chance that she was just getting married to get a English passport. ” he got angry with me, how can you ask such a thing? he said”, I told him that when I got married some very close people voiced this question and I too was offended, people judging her because she came from China. I explained that it was my idea to get married in the first place as I was going to Malaysia for a year to study martial arts and with Sarah’s Chinese passport she couldn’t stay in the country very long unless she was married. ”so she did just marry you for the visa then?” he asked. The answer is yes she did, in fact I didn’t stay in Malaysia for a year and being married turned out to be of no help at all for keeping Sarah in the country.None the less I would to the same thing again to allow Sarah to have an English passport.