Although it's been a year since I'd last skied, there was no re-learning curve, and I was almost immediately slicing up the packed powder like Pennsylvania was located on a glacier.

By Bill Rettew, weekly column

It took a foot of snow to get me motivated enough to get off the couch to strap on the boards Saturday night and go skiing.

Although it's been a year since I'd last skied, there was no re-learning curve, and I was almost immediately slicing up the packed powder like Pennsylvania was located on a glacier.

Those 90 degree July days were forgotten. I long ago learned that, for me, skiing was like riding a bike.

More time is spent riding the lifts than schussing the slopes. Those lulls in the action, from a perch high above the ground, gave me a chance to consider other runs at other mountains.

My recollections of a seven-month stint as a ski bum are usually capped by the night skiing adventures in Vail, Colo.

At Bear Creek, and other areas which offer skiing under the lights, the experience is quite similar to a noontime adventure, except for the increased chill when the sun goes down.

At Vail, night skiing was like a whole different world. As a member of the bowl patrol (toilet bowl cleaning, it was) we worked past dark at a day lodge located near the peak of the ski area. There were no lights for night skiing.

Everybody carried a huge nine-volt battery, which lit a miners lamp strapped around our brows. For skiing purposes the light was almost useless, but was a handy safeguard from a mountain worker on a snow-mobile mowing down a bowl patroller.

Those nighttime runs at the end of the workday were always the best ones of the day. Surreal. So quiet. With just the swoosh of skis, we meandered through the star- or moonlit landscape.

While it wasn't like skiing blind or with eyes closed, a major component of those runs was becoming one with the snow, while taming the vertical drop.

Those 6:30 p.m. runs took concentration. It was nothing like skiing at Bear Creek where the turns are often automatic.

That's another reason to appreciate those night runs at Vail. You had to concentrate to reach the bottom. We became one with that Rocky Mountain High; the mind clears and opens up to new refreshing thoughts.

So much of life is spent in overdrive or by rote. Everybody is guilty.

We often speak without passion. Lest we forget, every time we open our mouths, someone else is listening.

We don't need to use better grammar when speaking, but instead communicate with our hearts.

I could learn to listen better.

Perhaps we should invest more effort in our government.

There are many, so complacent, who fail to vote. That's a major lack of involvement in the community.

Many drivers, and not just those yapping on the phone, use but a small portion of their consciousness when navigating the roads and everyone pays for their inattention.

Maybe, its that great aunt in the nursing home who we could spend an hour with, instead of zoning out to the ultimate non-participant medium - television.

Try smiling at your co-workers and actively listening when someone complains or exclaims with joy.

Spend more time shopping for gifts. Get something that friends and relatives might use or need. Take more care unwrapping presents to better appreciate the moment.

Walk the golf course, rather than rent a cart. In fact, walk, don't run, through life whenever possible.

Watch both the commercials and the big game intensely this Sunday. The build-up is half of the fun.

I'm going to eat slower and in an effort to better taste food.

Eat dessert more often. Don't forget to snack.

Do something new everyday.

And do something that you haven't done since you were a child.

Hold a baby.

Read more books. Watch less TV.

Leave your watch and cell phone at home for the day.

Wear that Hawaiian shirt on Friday.

Take a nap.

Skip McDonald's, and instead hit a diner.

Read the whole paper.

Pet a cat.

Next time you hear it, sing along with the National Anthem.

Ask why, instead of when.

Spend and hour with an atlas and dream. The same goes for the travel section. Or just for the fun of it, see how cheap a flight you can get to anywhere warm.

Google yourself.

Throw a snowball.

Study the stars and wish upon one.

Sleep really late on the weekends, but set the alarm clock for some night skiing.

Bill Rettew Jr. may be contacted at brettew@phoenxivillenews.com

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