Jackie Kierulf


The trip to the hill for our ski lessons took an hour each way. We woke before dawn. Dad would

load our gear while we dressed in the clothes Mom laid out. Still dark, we dozed in the car, half-

listening to the radio station under the din of the station wagons’ heater fan.

It was just the three of us. Mom hadn’t taken to skiing, so she stayed home. Some days she

would layer up with the warmest winter clothes she had to catch a glimpse of my brother and

me gliding down the slopes.

We did up our ski boots, usually in frigid temperatures, with Dad usually taking over to pull the

laces tight. I was glad when I got new boots with stainless steel buckles. We had no choice of

brand or color, though, as it was bought on sale, a side effect of a one-income family.

At lunch, we returned to the car. Dad would run the engine a stretch to keep us warm. He’d

pour out steaming chicken soup, and we’d dunk corned beef rolls in the broth. We’d finish with

a Jos Louis, a layered sponge cake with a cream-like filling, and if that didn’t satisfy, some hot

chocolate, too.

Dad wasn’t the best skier. He never got past Stem Christie’s, probably due to taking up the sport

much later than a young beginner. But that wasn’t the point. As a workaholic, we suffered the

effects of an absentee father, so booking off Saturday to spend with us, though corny, was

heartwarming. Our father would cruise in the snow, like molasses, on the flattest run while we

waited at the bottom of the hill. Often he scolded us for skiing off-trail. He was always eager to

know details, and perhaps secretly wished he was capable of the same.

I was not the adventurous type and a bit of an introvert, but the time on those mountains

changed me. Like Dad, I was also cautious but eventually learned to ski with some decent speed

and form. I even taught some kids.

Decades later, I find myself driving my daughter up to the ski hill. My Dad’s gone now. As my

daughter chatters beside me, I think of my father, our Saturdays, and maybe how things haven’t

changed all that much.