We left the Chamois D’Or or the Golden Goat as I have loved calling it. This morning, it felt good, really good. It wasn’t the wrench I’d been expecting. In fact quite the opposite, I felt high, the mountains looked beautiful bathed in golden sunlight still capped with snow, but the slopes greener by the day, wild flowers appearing, the bird life too had become louder and louder every day, Spring was most certainly here a little early and the last guests had left around two weeks ago. The slopes of Nyon & Pleny closed yesterday on the 8th. Everything was all falling into place as I’d expected it would. In hindsight I sit here with a wide grin, it’s a real sense of achievement, though a few weeks earlier it had been a little tense
The season has been cut short by about four weeks due to no snow, which meant we were out of pocket and out on the streets so to speak. Mountain Heaven had put us forward to redecorate the bathrooms, re-grout silicone paint and re-seal everything, the place really needed it, eventually after a lot of cat and mouse by the owner we agreed on a price. I’d wanted a daily rate he wanted a price for the job. We’d asked around for the local rate, I came down a little as the money would pay for the festival pitches this summer, we held firm.
We worked hard, early starts, no lunches and late finishes, which meant we finished a few days earlier so he got a result financially. We did a beautiful job. The bonus for us was we got to have a few days out in the mountains and a last day skiing which was just fantastic. Seven times round Chamossiere and 6 of them on the black run. It was the best. We both felt so light and easy those last precious 3 days, happy with one another and we were free.
After the English left, we were tired and frazzled, they’d all left happier with how it turned out too. We’d got straight into the last deep clean, a group of 4 Canadians arrived early afternoon and the younger group of 8 English lads and one girl, arrived later in the day. The transfer driver had whispered
“Your going to have your work cut out with this lot”
He had no idea how we’d spent the previous week. We so needed for things to unfold easily no drama no more shocks. They’d been larking and laughing all the way from the airport
The Canadians were a little reserved at first but this English group would turn out to be a very considerate bunch, everything you could hope for in English manners and civility, though it has to be said they had a lot of energy had brought a lot of booze with them, got hammered and spent a great deal of time in the hot tub singing and laughing, but there were no shocks and we liked them very much
Each morning they emerged with their hangovers appeared at the kitchen door to say good morning and let us know what they wanted for breakfast. They were genuine and charming, the girl with them too, an Emirates air hostess was just so sorted at ease and open. She of course was in hospitality and so could see what we were doing. We really liked her and her other half.
I’d taken one of them down to the Carrefour, the local super market to get beer supplies that first evening, he chatted all the way and told me the story of his near death ski accident, he’d been a ski instructor three years ago. He’d been exploring, the snow had given way, he’d slipped from a ledge over a precipice and landed on the rocks far below, had very nearly died, he carried the scars, but loved skiing and so was straight back out as soon as he could, a really good guy and an indicator that all would be well, we relaxed.
They were a nice looking bunch too, happy with their own company but inclusive, the Canadians were at first a little taken aback I think by their brightness, their youthful energy and their sharpness. But they seemed to relax once around the dinner table, the spirit of a shared space. It was a good and happy week
At one point I’d taken a chap down to show him his room and he’d pulled me aside and said very conspiratorially
“I was wondering if you could do me a favour” he said quietly looking around the room
I said “If I can of course I will”
“Well its like this” he said “I erm… well .. you see…I ……. I
“What is it?” I asked gently
“Well .. I need to get hold of a onesie” he said …… “But it has to be a Monkey one”
I think I blinked but managed to keep a straight face
“Do you think it would be possible to get one around here?” he asked earnestly
After a seconds pause I said “I’m sure we can find you something. Tell you what I’ll have a look on the net while you’re having dinner and let you know if I find anything”
“That would be great” he said
We managed to find lots on the net but it would take a few days to be delivered, so next day in town I found a few shops that sold onsies. There were quite a few, pigs, tigers, dinosaurs, even the monkey one, I also mentioned that there was a Unicorn, his face lit up.
It turned out he had the Monkey one but had forgotten it. So they went off the next morning and came back with a unicorn. It was a funny sight watching them go off to ski, a group of cartoon characters and a top gun pilot clumping down the steps to the ski lift in their clumpy boots and skies over their shoulders
I even did a little healing with one of the Canadian ladies who turned out to be a policewoman of 30 years, her husband head of security for a major airline. It’s always interesting as days unfold and the face we put on for special occasions gradually falls away and we become who we are, she was interesting
It had forecast 4 days of heavy snow that weekend but it never came, instead it rained, which was a pity as the snow from the week before had only just topped up the slopes, we noticed now whilst we were out there that patches of brown earth were starting to show through. There was nothing left for the snow packers to salvage to top up the slopes
It was also the weekend we’d realized the season was going to end earlier than planned. Orsi’s anxieties had gone on hi alert and on that Sunday we’d fallen out about something or other I‘d taken off up onto the slopes whilst she’d gone to visit with friends who were in Morzine from London.
We’d been getting steadily better armed with the Strawberries in our boots and that day I’d whizzed along the reds and the blues enjoying my strength and physicality, the burn in my legs, the lift lean and the push, free to go at my own speed and ended up in front of Chamossiere. A few days earlier it had looked terrifying Orsi had wanted to go but I’d held back but that day I looked up and said coolly
The gate had opened, I stepped forward and before I realized the chair chopped my legs from behind and I was airborne, no going back now. As I was lifted up I made a point of just looking at the snow, not the mountains, up and up and further up and then there was the station ahead. I hopped off, a quick look over the edge of the blue, didn’t give myself time to wobble just straight over and across. In a great letter C. It was fantastic, thighs on fire, focused on my route the push and turned nicely, controlled all the way down, it had a few tricky turns, a few jolts and jars but I took them well, powering my legs into them
Then on over to Pleny, the first slope we’d ever seen and unimaginable to us at the time. Today I was going to do it, the only thing that slowed me was the connecting runs which had patches of soil and slush to navigate. I knew exactly where I was going. I whizzed confidently down to Morzine got the gondolier up to Plenny stepped out, clipped my skies back on and just went straight over and straight down the front. Though it’s steep it’s wide and so plenty of time to turn, I powered across and down, as you descend there are a couple of really tight narrow turns with sheet ice, I saw them coming took them well, skies scrapping across horribly, I lifted and turned around a tight slushy bend and came out at the top of the vertical slope right back down into Morzine. It was exhilarating, I blinked, looked down, took it in, then
Over I went perfect C’s all the way down not a wrong move. We have come a long way, we’ve kept going back up, watching the ESF guys and listening to the guests. After that I made my way back across the slopes with not a pause now, calm relaxed and really focused, pushing myself, I was on fire sweating and smiling to myself.“Yes!!!”
To finish that day it would be the high narrow Point du Nyon all the way back down to the car park, it was still nerve wracking, still hard to push out from, my stomach still did a flip as I did and so I slipped, my legs were tired now, I hadn’t stopped except for the chair lifts for over 4 hours. So I reigned myself in and got my Z’s into C’s and coasted down onto the plateau far below across to the red and all the way down to the Nyon lift at the car park underneath the Chalet.
I’d seen Ravens out there that day too, their shadows flashed over me, heard them calling, I’d called back, acknowledged them, it felt good to spread my own wings, decide my own course in my own time, conversing with the spirits out on the slopes. It was a wonderful morning. Orsi went out the next day and did Chamossiere on her own too and the next day we did them all again, together, Ranfoilly and La Rosta too. I never would have believed it, skiing simply hadn’t been on my radar; a month ago all of this was death defying to us.
We were sad to see the Onsies and the Canadians go, they had been perfect guests. We sent them off with warmth, waving them off and then went back in for the deep clean, it would be the last full deep clean we would do as the next guests were 5 Scots and an older English couple who turned out to be ferocious skiers, so only 4 rooms. So that meant the following week it would only be half the deep clean. We cracked on with it.
The snow didn’t arrive but some long dour faces did. The leader of the scots group was a stonewall and seemed unhappy no matter what we did. The rooms were wrong, he let us know they’d stayed with Mountain Heaven before, the implication being he knew the menu and the previous chalet and hosts had been top notch. We were a little deflated we’d wanted it be a great last week, but boy it was an uphill struggle. We’d speak and be ignored though one of the group, a chap called Rab was a tonic, chatty and open so we gravitated to him. Nice guy a self made man and a novice skier just like us.Though we really enjoyed just about everybody that came through, every group brought a lesson for us, brought out some sort of rawness, revealed some insecurity to look at, me for sure, from class, to manners, being included, treatment, it’s what I’m always looking for, that raw point that speaks from the self, I combed over the feelings attempting to straighten out my knots.
When I doing a healing I always say, I am not doing the healing you are, my job is to hold the frequency, which is what energy is, a person will feel it physically but it is a frequency. So if I/the healer hold it, the recipient will eventually have to rise to meet mine/the healers frequency, in a nut shell that is how it works and that is when change happens and what we want is for that frequency to remain lifted
I realized half way through the week that Orsi and I had been doing just that with every party no matter what. We held ourselves, we stood firm knowing that we were both doing our very very best to make sure people had a good time and if we could do something we would. It’s all in the doing and the giving; eventually the negativity has to give way to the positivity and given time the shift will happen. We hadn’t discussed it in those terms but we were both definitely on the same page about it for sure.
About a few days in we noticed that the Scots vibe changed they just seemed happier and relaxed, it was a relief. The guy who had organized their party now called me ‘son’ opened up and told us a little about themselves and responded to our “good mornings”. One chap the only Englishman among them had a bad hip, an old injury, accepted some healing and hypnotherapy. I thought it went very well and we sat up chatting with him one evening, it seemed to have stirred him very deeply, good stuff. Rab also asked for an Indian Head massage which was just great, he was profoundly relaxed when we’d done, I had to nudge him a little to bring him round. Lovely guy.It turned out that all the long faces had been about the snow, the slopes whilst they were there were slushy and patchy, we felt for them, but they did lift and then seemed to have a great time and by the time they left they were all smiles.
Coincidentally it was also Orsi’s birthday her Doc Martins had arrived just in time. We cracked into the last clean, only 4 rooms. We deep cleaned the kitchen and the storeroom the next day, everything was ready for the change over.So once done it was skies on and straight up into the mountains; it was a beautiful dazzling sunny day, we in our t shirts skied happily across a couple of ranges Nyon Ranfolley over to Rosta where Orsi likes the view of Mont Blanc. It was bright beautiful, sparkling reflected sunlight, the slopes were virtually empty too. There were one or two ESF guys out with a string of kids. I suspected those who were out there were mostly people who worked in the area getting a last ski in too. It was a wonderful couple of hours.
The sun was getting stronger, the snow melting fast by then, the earth warming and thawing, underground streams released, bubbling up to the surface all across the slopes and in the forests. In the depths of winter the forests had been silent, nothing had stirred in there, the earth frozen solid. Now as we shot across we could hear the sound of water all around us, it had been getting louder each time we’d been up. The earth releasing all the stored hidden goodness, if you stood still and listened you could hear the awakening, all those fresh sounds, the stretch after the long sleep.We swept through shadows the forest cast, still places with hints of pine hanging in the air, the trees themselves seemed to be trembling. The crows and the Ravens were out again, playful and even noisier now calling all around us. I’d seen these mountains all last year in my dreams and seeing’s crowned with sunlight and there it was, just as I’d seen
The time in Morzine has been remarkable, the work hard, the days long, we have learnt a great deal. We have learned to ski and to work together, we have watched and we have liked just about everyone who came through the place; that has been a real education.
Back at the Chalet later that night we popped the bottle of Moet the doctors had left us. The doctor I’d done the session with had written back by the way, said his operation had gone well, the healing had been very fast, he was up and walking and that he’d benefitted from the session, he said more, it meant a great deal to me. It was a good meeting on many levels, its always what I’m looking for.
We met with Carolyn the area manager and her sound husband Neil that week too to hand over all existing supplies and to officially hand back the chalet keys. She had been great with us all season, a real professional, she’d been very happy with how we’d performed and the reviews spoke for themselves. They took us to lunch and we had a nice cozy time with them. We liked Carolyn very much
In all honesty we had clashed pretty badly at times particularly those first 6 weeks, we’d nearly thrown it all in, it had been very close. But at some point I’m not sure when, something had given way and we reached a plateau took a gulp of air and looked at one another and thought I’m glad that person is next to me, by my side during this time.I’d had a seeing around then too. A road un-rolling and racing ahead it looked like rubber and wasn’t quite flat, it was spattered with green paint splashes, a few ups and downs but I could see ahead, there was nothing in the way, no hidden dips or turns, I’d watched the road unfolding flying just ahead of my point of view, then just before I came around a word had flashed up like a neon billboard ahead above the road.
These things have become matter of fact with me now so it’s always a few hours later that I realize what has just been shown. This one really lifted me, put a foundation back under me.
Another seeing too, earlier when we’d been nervous going over the lip of the ski slopes. I was looking across towards the ski lifts at Nyon on the plateau, I’d watched myself come coasting down the red run, doing quite well all the way down then as I’d come into the roped off area on the plateau. I noticed a group of ESF instructors in their red coats, stood around watching me come in, I’d come to a great stop with a great shower of snow and they’d applauded me. The ESF were of course spirits. I’d known from then on that as long as we took care and were respectful we would be safe. It stayed with me all the time we were out there. I knew we were safe.We’d also got relaxed with the weekly shopping at a place called Promocash. A large voluptuous lady with straw blond hair and pretty blue eyes whom we called ‘Madam Coco’ became our unofficial French teacher. I’d ask her a sentence, get my phone out and she’d tell me slowly as I recorded it, we’d then practice it in the kitchen each day for the following week
For example, Combien je vous dois – how much do I owe you, I wouldn’t swear on the spelling but you get the idea. We’d come back stand at her counter as she totted up the bill and say what ever it was we’d been practicing,
She’d laugh “tre bien, fantastiqe”
We were just giving it out and it was coming back, again I will say the French on just about all occasion were warm friendly and helpful. We’ve learnt to count to 10, well actually 20 but I am still having a problem with 14 15 & 16 because they sound Spanish to me, so I stumble.
One day we arrived at Promocash, early on in our time there so we were still kind of blasted, we’d gone in to find a camp skinny male karaoke singer in shiny rubber trousers plucked eye brows singing smaltzy sacrilegious versions of many an unmemorable hit. We stopped dead as if we’d been slapped. Was this for real? It was so unexpected. But it was cos he waved at us as we stood there open mouthed. At that moment he was singing The Monkeys “I’m a believer” in high a camp French accent and a full on performance. We moved on in quickly.
If we came back out at the end of an isle he’d wink and wiggle and we’d run away again and if we’d missed that it was piped into the ‘legumes et le fromage” departments and the “Congelation et viande” so no escape. We’d thought it was a French thing, cabaret singers in supermarkets, of course; but we never saw him again and though we’d sniggered at the time, we honestly missed him all the rest of the time there. His Nirvana’s “No I don’t have a gun” had to be seen/heard to be believed
Then there was the incident with the petrol pump attendant. I’d been in a very chirpy mood, gone to get a gas tank exchanged for the oven and some petrol for the van over in Montriond where the bigger Carrefour supermarket is. I’d put 30 euros in the tank, gone up to the kiosk to pay. The lady there had always seemed a little odd. I’d just thought ‘oh this is that French thing’ I’d been told about. I could see she was little flustered as I came up to the window. The guy in front had had to pay in cash. Then my turn came. I stepped up to the window, she rattled off something in French, pointing to the card machine huffing and puffing and blowing. The card machine was down so could I pay in cash.
The interesting thing in all this was she knew me and knew I couldn’t speak French.
My answer was apologetically “non, pardon” I had no cash on me, pointing to my pockets, shrugging my shoulders, which I thought was universal. Only the company card that I held it up for her to see and a shrug of the shoulders, universal right? I’d already filled up so what to do? Do what everyone does to tourists who don’t understand. She spoke very loudly and repeated and got louder each time. So I was getting a little fed up with her manner, it wasn’t my fault and I was trying to help so I thought I’d have some fun. So I repeated the same thing in English back to her slowly and with a great deal of expression in my face
“I doooown’t have any cassssh, I dooowunt’t speeeeek French, I’ll pop down toooo the cash point and get some…. OooohKeaaaay!!”
After a few minutes of this she lost the plot and came stumbling out of the cabin shaking red faced and wide eyed. There was now a great big queue in the garage forecourt. Luckily the driver next in line behind was English with a good command of French
He said “You too have really fallen out haven’t you?
I said “no not really her card machine has broken, I only have the company card and she won’t let me go and get cash, she knows who I am”
The upshot was she went back into her box and came back out with a little book banged it down onto the bonnet of the guys 4×4 still shaking, prodded the book with her finger. I should write my name and address as some sot of security. I was happy too
“Micky Mouse, Disneyland, Morzine 30 Euros”
She seemed happy enough with this and I was released to go find a cash point. Trouble was they were all out of order or more likely were on lunch as it was around 2pm and I suspected even cash points had a dinner break here. When I went back a day later there was another lady on duty. I pointed to the book indicated that I was Micky Mouse and it was all sorted. What a stress.
I have to mention Kate & Martin who we’d become friends with and who ran the Chalet St Marie over in Montriond. We’d met them the very first week, Kate had been interested in healing and so I’d done quite a few sessions with her and later Martin. They ran a bigger chalet than ours and were very experienced. They were a pillar. We guided them and they guided us, it was through them we’d become regulars at the Tabac bar with its bands its IPA and its gritty local good company. Good people and good work done.When we’d finally finished re-grouting and painting 6 bathrooms, the hall way and the owners bedroom and Orsi had re cleaned the whole chalet it really was over, we had one last chance to ski. We weren’t even sure whether there would be snow left but we were lucky, we could still get across to Chamossiere and up to Point du Nyon. Orsi had been feeling a little under the weather, I think all the paint fumes had got to her but as is sometimes the case when you can finally relax a fever will kick in.We’d gone up to Chamossiere both of us came down the blue first of all, which is tough enough but it felt surprisingly smooth. So I’d said lets go round again. I was pushing and had got ahead. So up there on my own I just felt strong that day, the whole thing made sense, the whole time there fell into place, so many reasons, so much learning, I am always looking for it, always questioning, it seemed everything was just right.
“Yeah the Black”
So over the edge I went, onto the black run with all its moguls, no plateaus just straight down. Oh did I come into my own. I was a bird, I imagined myself a Crow on each turn throwing out my outside arm, then strawberry turning back throwing out the other arm, it felt like a dance all; the way down, I went around the Black run six times that day, 7 in all including the blue. On the 4th time I was about half way down and I heard my Dad loud and clear
“Hey Micky boy…..bloody great” I literally burst out laughing
“Dad.. ! I exclaimed
“Go on Micky boy, go for it”
I was throwing my arms out now like a Ballerina Native American curling and spiraling downward, taking my time.
Then my Mum “Fred stop it .. Michael just be careful…..are you happy?” she asked
“Yes mum” I called “I’m really really happy”
Then my Dad again “Go on Micky lad, enjoy yourself, bloody great”I even sensed my Nan there too. I was lifted so high I was looking right down that slope, sure-footed and absolutely confident. I’d done it. I could really ski; the black at Chamossiere, the cherry on the cake. I knew that my happiness was their happiness, and I know that my energy affects yours reading this.
A while ago somebody had given me a dig about living our life as individuals, insinuated that we were spoiled. It had stung me deeply. But there on that slope I knew that my happiness, my energy my output my connection mattered, it mattered that I was able to do this, it is these things that take root in a soul, it is these moments that blossom and knowing deepens, it is this feeling that will touch others and so they will be able to touch and inform me. At that moment I was truly winged, truly individual and truly connected.
It wasn’t about the speed for us, it was about the act, the physical action, the awareness of the movement, the body right there and then, the stillness. It was a wonderful culmination for me, we finished off that day with the run down from Pont Du Nyon, this time there was no hesitation, we took care, but we moved with confidence all the way down to the tavern, perfectly done. We had even had a pint, now that was daring
Orsi has gone off to Hungary this morning and I am on a bus across France to Tulle to drop some things off have a look in on the Blacks mansion and check in on Pearl. Then back to London for a couple of weeks. All going well we will be back in the mountains next season. It has been good.