Though my kids all grew up in the tropics we now live in northern Italy where there is a sweltering summer and a foggy freezing winter. I don't mean Siberian freezing, but Venetian fog that will not leave our valley for entire weeks. Suggestivo for someone on a writing streak, but not good for the bones or a seratonin fix.
My ex considered himself a mountain man and dragged me up to the Dolomites a few times before we had offspring. It was when I thought I was a chic Parisienne. I remember my Aussie toes turned blue and I counted the hours before I would be back inside the stuffy warm car driving home. I didn't fall for the cold, the peaks or the ski instructors.
Zap ahead to a divorcée trying not to go nuts in Italy after ten tropical years in Ghana. Those first winters, come January and I would have sold a child to clear the sky, to see some sun, to work up a sweat. That was when I discovered skiing.
What a wonderful way to round up the adolescents, keep them off the streets, spend heaps of money on 'necessary' equipment and cool gear, and watch the winter dissolve. I quickly found mountain folk to be very warm inside, like their pine-panelled homes and hand-carved chairs, their lovely canederli and addictive grappa al carugo. And fitness. In truth I come from an entirely sporty family, waterskied as a kid and did swimming training. It has been a smooth transition. From Africa-babe to powderhound in a few years. Now I telemark or free-heel ski with the local crazies and it's a far cry from designer shop sales in town or Ikea on weekends (swearing, assembling cupboards) or merciless long Sunday lunches in trattorias.
The first run every morning is preceded by a caffè corretto (in my novel this becomes Marilyn's preferred poison for facing her Milanese mornings) - which is espresso with a splash of local grappa to warm up wooden legs and ease shoulders, to deepen the glow in red cheeks. Then skis on shoulders and up to the lift, a slow rise to the top, a gliding towards the peaks.
I am hooked.
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ps: waiting for my dummy book copy to arrive; my ears ache from straining to hear the postman...
ALSO on 24th December I am on the Ether Books Advent Calendar www.etherbooks.com with the title story of my just-accepted collection 'Pelt and Other Stories'. The story is called 'Pelt' and tells of a pregnant Ghanaian woman trying to lure back her lover from his German ex-wife.
Buon Natale a tutti!