Thursday, December 31, 2009
A Sugarloaf Poem with NO TITLE
It’s New Year’s Eve, and it’s snowing in Lexington Township. It has snowed many times throughout the fall and winter, but we have yet to receive a snowfall that is noteworthy. The weathermen have made several idle threats, but Mother Nature delights in keeping the upper hand, and to date we’ve only received storms that have dumped between one and six inches of the white stuff.
Perhaps this year-end event will be the doozie we’ve all been waiting for. And, perhaps it won’t. One meteorologist forecasted that these mountains where I make my home will be blanketed with up to three feet of snow before the current systems which are chugging my way have exhausted themselves three days hence. I’ve also heard that this first storm will only drop about three inches of frozen precipitation, and the one to follow it will affect mainly Down East Maine, leaving the ski country with little more than a half-foot of new snow.
It’s anyone’s guess, but only the weather forecasters get paid to make them!
I was raised in the foothills of these Appalachians. Sugarloaf Mountain, the ski resort which towers over my back yard, is a critical part of this region’s economy and culture. It’s a well known fact that a ski resort needs snow, and so whatever we receive from these two piggy-backed storms will be welcome.
On Sunday I had the pleasure of being a guest on ‘Watch and Win’, a program on Sugarloaf’s cable television station, WSKI-TV17. It was a first in a year of many firsts for me, and I enjoyed every minute of it. For Grumbles and Grins' final posting of the year 2009, I thought I would share the poem which I wrote for the occasion and read on live TV, and which was also broadcast live on the World Wide Web. If you are a local reader, you will recognize many of the places and names and events in the poem. If you aren't, I hope you will enjoy it, anyway!
Here we go!
I grew up in the shadow of a monolith in Maine.
Second to Katahdin, it’s called Sugarloaf, by name.
The mountain had a history: What once was wooded slope
Became a destination far beyond its founders’ hope.
A group of friends led by a guy named Stub, and one called Amos,
Transformed that virgin landscape to a ski resort, now famous!
They cut a trail, and then some more. They added tows of rope.
To ease the hike to summit was well within their scope.
Soon other lifts were added; a T-bar here and there…
It was the dream of skiers, though, to sit upon a chair.
And so, the Mighty Gondola (a word that’s hard to rhyme)
Was built from base to hilltop, eliminating climb.
More trails were cut, a base lodge built, and chairs with funny names
Like ‘Sawduster’ and ‘King Pine’, and ‘Whiffletree’ soon came.
A Village South, a Village East, a Village called ‘The West’
Were moved up from the Valley and their shops were soon the best.
And as the mountain grew in fame–as folks drove up to ski–
They realized that Sugarloaf was where they longed to be.
These skiers, they decided, no longer would they roam!
Instead they’d build some condos and have a second home.
I grew up as the mountain did. I watched it change and grow
From simple, modest mountain; to making its own snow!
And since I was a local--since Sugarloaf was here--
It was expected of this girl, that I would be a skier.
But just because a trail is cut, and just because it’s there
That doesn’t mean each Kingfield girl should ride the Bucksaw Chair!
My old friend, Amos Winter, he said that I could learn.
He told me all I needed was skill to stop and turn.
He laced up my old ski boots, he measured me for skis.
He pushed me towards the teacher, and said, ‘It is a breeze!’
He donned his skis, he grabbed his poles, and went to run a race.
And left me with some strangers; this girl who had no grace!
We started with a ‘snow plow’. They said, ‘It’s trouble-free!’
But holy smokes! These people had never met a ME!
My legs were not designed like that! I couldn’t make them plow!
I wanted to get out of there! Not later, I meant NOW!
My tutor wouldn’t baby me. But I was only SIX!
I had no urge to learn about those skiers’ little tricks!
He wanted me to ride the ‘T’…but that was going UP!
He said I must go higher to ever win a cup!
But racing cup, I didn’t want. Nor trophy set with skis.
I wanted to get down from there. I asked him with a ‘please’.
Instead, he tucked the T-bar high underneath my thigh
And when it started pulling me, this girl began to cry.
How high up would it take me? How would I get back down?
I couldn’t do the snow plow from high atop the crown!
My chicken-livered nature combined with lack of grace
Made me drop the T-bar and land upon my face.
I thought I would be rescued, and carried down the slope.
But my instructor told me that I must learn to cope.
I told him I could cope quite well by riding in a sled!
I could tell the ski patrol that I had bumped my head!
He shook his head, displeased with me. His mouth turned into frown.
He said, ‘You must be braver! What goes up must come down.
‘I’ll meet you at the base lodge, down by the Schuss Café.
‘You’ll make it there quite safely! Now, please, don’t take all day!’
He picked one ski up in the air--a stylish little move--
And pivoted to face downhill! Right there, my point he proved!
He didn’t make a snowplow! He schussed and slid away.
He wasn’t making pigeon toes, like I had done all day!
I knew there had been trickery! T’was lies that he had spoke!
No-one else was trying that! This snowplow was a joke!
I tried to get down bottom, but each time I tried to stand…
My skis, they started sliding! Back on my butt I’d land.
And then, I had epiphany! I’d slide down on my rump!
Gravity was on my side! I had that teacher trumped!
But woolen pants are not the best for sliding through the snow.
It took a half an hour, for eighty feet to go!
At last, I was successful! The slope, it leveled out!
I’d made it down the mountain! I’d never had a doubt!
I stood up without sliding! I wanted then to cheer!
(But first, I had to pick five dozen snowballs from my rear.)
At sunset, Amos found me. He seemed a little glum.
I’m sure he’d had great visions of the skier I’d become.
But after my adventure on the crags of Sugarloaf
I think my Mr. Winter was thinking me an oaf.
And even though I never skied, that man remained my pal.
I often sat upon his porch and chatted with his gal.
In fact, t’was Alice who proposed that Amos teach me tennis!
He flinched at her suggestion… like I would be a menace!
But surely, nothing could go wrong! By now, I was a teen!
And Amos wouldn’t tell me ‘no’! I’d never seen him mean!
I showed up bright and early, new racket in my hand.
I’d show my buddy Amos! At tennis, I’d be grand!
There was one little problem. My racquet loosely gripped
Became a swift projectile when from my grasp it slipped.
The Winters, they forgave me. They said it was all right.
They said they’d fix the window ‘fore the bugs came out at night.
Old Amos put his arm round me. That founder of the ‘Loaf
Said, ‘Karen, stick to writing! You really are an oaf!’
Old Amos certainly tried his best to teach me to play tennis. I enjoyed those summer lessons at his camp by Tufts Pond much more than I relished my brief foray into the sport of downhill skiing. But that old friend and sage was often brought to the verge of despair. Apparently, teaching me skill in any sport was more of a challenge than even Amos bargained for. I remember asking him one morning what, exactly, it was that I was doing wrong. He twirled his raquet expertly between his hands, looked me straight in the collarbone, and said, "Child, you're just too tall. Teaching you to play tennis is like trying to teach a moose to dance the minuet."
For a split second, I felt like crying. I almost did. And then he raised his twinkling eyes to mine and said, "Shall we dance?" And I busted a gut laughing, instead.
Amos was a good man, and I gave up on my abilities long before he did. He and his wife Alice were wonderful mentors to, and friends of, this girl who grew up in the shadow of a monolith in Maine. A monolith that Amos had a large hand in transforming into one of the leading ski resorts in the north-eastern United States.
How lucky was I?
Happy New Year! May 2010 be filled with love, health and prosperity, and may you be fortunate enough to have friendships like those I have been blessed with!
This poem is lacking a title! If you'd like to enter to win a 'Sugarloaf' t-shirt, please submit your entry in the 'comments' section of this blog posting, or email me at email@example.com. The winning title will be chosen on January 9, 2009. I will have a friend make the choice, so feel free to enter if you are a friend or family member--no worries about nepotism!