Last Sunday I had the chance to ski at night. No, I’m not a good skiier.
Nothing is more enticing when someone dangles the prospect of doing something unexpected in front of you, and night skiing was definitely one of them. At nine the night have fallen for a few hours when the trip organizer suggested we ski in the dark.
There was a second’s hesitation owing to losing my headlamp and then in my mind I said Yes.
Stuffed as turkeys after dinner and desert potluck, we skinned up in the night with new legs, our skis striking the white snow like twin exclamation marks. The red self described gigantic match someone had brought fizzled with danger like a live stick of dynamite, which threw an eerie red light onto our path. At nine I learned that the moon had not yet risen, but that stars pricked the fabric of the night like a bed of needles. Reaching our destination, we fell onto the snow, cooling our warm, tired muscles. Turning our eyes to the sky, the conversation drummed up naturally like a sparse verbal rain, no more filling the vast empty space above us than a drop of water in a bathtub.
But to the skiing.
It was the nicest few hundred metres of skiing that day (or technically, night). Using headlamps, we formed our own mini ski resort, minus blinding floodlights. We scurried down the slope with small scoops of alternating skis -right ski, left ski. The night, which at first appeared more static than day, proved dynamic, alive. The run stretched on in the starlight as if we were following the path of light to the ends of the earth. The lack of shadow made the trees and slopes more forgiving. By the time we were nearing the end, it felt like a much longer period than the space of ten minutes had passed because of an invisible speed barrier.
The red burning match burned out after fifteen minutes. But the feeling that we had been initiated into something by doing it under starlight made something inside of us burn brighter.