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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

No Pets On The Ski Lift

I had never been downhill skiing so I wanted to at least ride the lift at Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley in the Santa Catalina Mountains just northeast of Tucson, where "lift rides with majestic views of the valleys below are available year around". However, a sign posted at the lift station quite clearly read "NO PETS ON THE SKI LIFT". I walked up to the ski lift operator with my little dog named Big on leash beside me and tried to wheedle that handsome young man into letting Big ride the lift with me, but he firmly said no. I usually, almost always, obey the rules, was summer and even up there in the mountains it was too hot to leave Big in the car. Sooo...I stuffed Big into my sweater, told her to be quiet, and zipped her up. I went back to the ski lift operator to renew my appeal. He cut me off before I even spoke, and waved me onto the ski lift. I do not know what kind of big, wiggly bosom the ski lift operator thought that I had suddenly developed because he turned away to hide his laughter.

I staggered around on the chair lift conveyor belt, without dropping Big, until I got myself positioned the right way, then the four-person chairlift hit me below the butt and dropped me onto it. The ski lift chair looked just like this:

I had been cross-country skiing and water skiing with such lack of success and abject terror respectively that I had never repeated either experience. I enjoyed ice skating but was not particularly good at it, so I knew that I would never be skiing fast down a slippery slope. (Now there is a metaphor by which to live life.) But now I was experiencing the ski lift. The ski lift was exhilarating, it moved me over thrilling heights. I felt happy anticipation for the top of the mountain. It was thoroughly fun! Big took one look at the lofty view then tucked her head back inside my sweater, which was good because I had had no idea that we would be lifted so high up without even a harness to secure us to the seat. It seemed very dangerous.

Hiking down the mountain was not fun, it was scary. There was no one else on the mountain that summer day. I could sense animals in the woods around me, large animals from the thick branches that broke underneath them and the heavy shuffling noises they made. They seemed interested in me in a way that raised the hairs on the back of my neck and put me into a cold sweat. I wanted off of that mountain as quickly as possible but I had been told that the hike down would take close to two hours. I desperately wanted to shorten that time, and soon found myself skittering down the scree of the mountain slope, scrambling and sometimes skiing on my heels with stones spinning and spiraling from my feet. I tried to stay on the hiking path and not pitch sideways down the various ski slopes. Failing that I focused on my end goal which was the tiny, tiny ski lift station in the valley below. Big could not keep up so I put her back into my sweater. I was so frightened that her little weight did not slow me down at all. As I hurried along the way I sang "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" to amuse myself and to warn off predators.

For a wonderful rendition of this folk song, sung the way they used to sing when I was a child, see Ramblin' Tommy Scott singing "She'll Be Coming Around The Mountain".


Caption: No Pets On The Ski Lift

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019

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