It’s the night before another season begins anew.  I begin the familiar routine.   Skis and poles into the car.  Where’s the boot bag? Behind the tents and packs is the familiar black and purple bag.  I dig my mittens out of the closet, and pack them into the bag along with my helmet and boots.

The alarm goes off early, and I climb out of bed.  Tugging on my ski pants, I think I may have gained five pounds last April.  They feel just a little bit more snug.  I try to tell myself it’s all that running and weight lifting I’ve done, that it’s the muscle.  It will make me a better skier!

As I head over to the mountain, I see familiar scenes — cars with skis and snowboards.  Finally, as I park, I gaze upon the slopes covered in white to see little dots zipping down one after another.  It’s hard to believe it’s been seven months since I was one of those dots.

I don’t have a ski pass yet, so I stop by the office.  Signing the obligatory waiver, the woman prints off a shiny new pass.  Tucking it in my pocket, I head for the locker room.   I see familiar faces, other instructors, who I haven’t seen all summer.

“Hey, how are you?”

“Great, how was your summer?”

I can see that they can’t remember my name.  That happens when you have four hundred instructors who work all season, and then you forget all about them after ski season is over.

Unbuckling my ski boots, I shove my foot inside.  Why are ski boots so hard to put on?  It all seems so foreign, like I’ve never done this before.  As I buckle them, they feel extraordinarily tight.  Have my feet spread out, or have I just forgotten how tight ski boots really are.  I suspect it’s the latter.

Walking out on the snow, I’m squinting from the glare off the snow.  After way too long, I’m finally standing on the snow, ready to clip into my bindings.  I skate over to the lift, and wait for the chair to scoop me up.

Finally, as I arrive at the top, a smile crosses my face.  Standing at the top, I savor the feeling of gliding down the trail, making big swooping turns.  It all comes back — the freedom, that feeling of flying down the hillside.

Another ski season has begun anew.