The Snow Artist

Snow artist

For those of us who’d rather ponder than snowboard (ehem, me), shuttling loved ones up to the top of Old Powderhorn and sipping hot cocoa is great way to spend half a day, and earn brownie points.

As I drive Gabe to the top of the slopes, meeting him at the bottom and do it all over again, I enter this sort of meditative state, which is only enhanced by the fact that driving on compacted snow is a serious mindfulness exercise.

Up and down the mountain we went yesterday, each finding a rhythm of our own, and each time passing the man in the snow plow as he slowly created order amongst the chaos of fresh powder.

Anyone can be an artist – the only requirement: to care.

The Snow Artist took his time, planned out his executions, which would surely continue to affect him in the snowy weeks ahead.

You see, Old Powderhorn is just a place that happens to have old ski runs. There’s a port-a-potty at the bottom of the hill, and a place to park your car. But no lifts, no operators on duty. Just passionate skiers, snowboarders and sledders, and a few drivers willing to lend a hitch or two.

It’s just a place that happens to be graced with art.

The Snow Artist created clearings at the top of the slope, transforming un-passable road shoulders into take-off points for thrill-seekers. And after clearing the way for cars, he created openings in the walls of snow for the enthusiasts to climb through in order to reach the tops of the ski runs.

As we found driving down the hill at the end of our adventure, there were snow plows creating useable spaces all the way down the mountain – each finding their own rhythm, creating their own art.

It’s a stretch on a mountain graced with artistry, and all you have to do to experience it is show up.


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We Got Spahk

This past week, I’ve been itching to write. I jotted a few things down here, typed up a few lines on my ipad mini there. But nothing came out of me that said, “don’t stop! Someone will want to read this.” I counted the days since my last blog post: six. 
For six days, I’d answered ‘no’ to that question by not writing when I felt the urge to. So, I thought, something’s gotta change. And since I don’t see anyone following me around with a pen, I’d better get to it.
Friday morning, I ate my cereal quickly and hopped in the car with Jeana when she left to take Lei to preschool. She dropped me off at Marilyn’s house, with whom I make soap and frozen pizzas and run errands and whatever else she feels like doing on a whim. Her husband Ricky dedicated his morning to helping me find a car, as my own search has been slow and unrewarding, mostly due to my passivity and denial that one won’t just turn up in the driveway one day (yes, I’m realizing how much I really take for granted my handy, generous mechanic of a father).
We arrived at Ricky’s friend’s car lot, who was willing to give me a deal on a Honda Civic he thought was running just fine despite its cosmetic quarks. We test drove it up Haleakala Highway– the big test: It ran great! We stopped back at Rick and Marilyn’s house for a moment before starting it up again and– nada. “No spahk” was Rick’s catchphrase that day, with his Haliimaile-born pidgin. “Noo sparhk. Buhmuh.”
To distract ourselves from the hunk of metal blocking the driveway, we turned around to face the ’88 Nissan Pathfinder he had laying around (Ricky buys cars from auctions and fixes them up– a common side-job on the island, and elsewhere I imagine). We replaced the starter in that car, and wouldn’t you know it: “Nooo spahk. Buhhmuh.”
We tried this and that, this again and that again on this car and that one. By 3 that afternoon, we had returned to my Honda with a new distributor in hand. Looking down at the old one under the hood, I was worried about not knowing how to line it up right, considering I didn’t know what a distributor looked like until that morning. We both hesitated a moment, until Rick smiled:

“We ain’t no scaredycats. The one thing I ain’t is a scaredycat. Too many people have fee-uh, ya know what I mean? We might not get it right, but we ain’t gunna have fee-uh.”
That said, the old distributor came right off. We rigged the fresh-out-the-box toy where we thought it might go. I’m not sure how much Rick knew what he was doing– “I’ve never had luck with distributors,” he said once and again. I certainly didn’t know what I was doing. But we did it anyway. One 4pm lunch–and a fight with some plastic piece that has something to do with connecting wires–later, we cranked the key and– “Ha. Noo spahk.”
Wow, was all we could say, over and over, totally defeated for the day. “Well we got some hands-on experience,” we tried to redeem one another. “Rough day,” we joked. It wasn’t really funny, but we laughed anyway. We cleaned up, with a bit more tinkering in between sighs and jokes. When we were ready to start pushing the Civic to get it out of the driveway, that smile of Rick’s returned. “What if it starts!” he said, smirking. One foot out the car door, he cranks it: Vroom.
“What!” was all I could say.
We had spahk. In fact, we had more than spahk. That thing got us all the way up Piiholo Road–2,000 feet of elevation packed into 3 miles of windy mountain turns.
When I walked in the door that night, I said I’d be in the office the next day, “since I didn’t work today. Today I was a mechanic.”
Ha. Hardly.
I didn’t buy the Civic. I don’t know if we really fixed anything, or if we got lucky when it ran for us that night. But we didn’t have fee-uh, and I did have a day worth writing about.


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