The Lure of the Mountain

The Lure of the Mountain

They struggle from bed, bleary-eyed and slow-moving.  They grunt instead of forming real words.  They trip over each other as they stumble into the shower half-awake, and re-emerge some ten minutes later, wet and somewhat brighter eyed.

But they are moving.  Of course, they were still up-and-at-‘em around 2 in the morning, in spite of our admonishments to “go to sleep–NOW” and our threats of “you will not go tomorrow if you can’t settle down now”.  It is a small miracle that they are responsive at all with only five hours of sleep.

One by one, they morph from lumps to their normal, athletic, teenage boy selves. 

Always hungry–always!–but yet not wanting to eat “so early”, they manage to inhale their breakfasts just the same.  Perhaps they are enticed by the waffles and maple syrup, or maybe they listen to our rational appeal to their wallets: “Remember what it costs to eat up there.”

They shift their focus from the kitchen to the entry.  On days when there are just my own kids,  the gear seems more under control, actually fitting into the benches and cubbies designed to hold all this season’s stuff.  Some days there are only one or two friends, and I just go to bed, resigned to a few piles of equipment setting out of place.  But today, we’re at full car load capacity for making the run from house to Academy School to meet the bus.  Today, our mudroom looks like a retail store of winter equipment: snow boards, skis, helmets, gloves, neck warmers, hand warmers, feet warmers, bags, winter boots, snow boarding boots, ski boots, snow pants, coats, under layers… I don’t even try to find my way to my own cubby until they all dress, claim their stuff, and move out to the garage.

We make the quick trip down in near-record time.  All of the kids are listening to my complaining of how they simply must be faster, that they really have to figure out how long it takes to do chores in the morning for the chickens and the rabbits, and that we can’t always be the last ones there.  

We pull up and park, and since it’s my turn to ride along, I pile out with the rest of them.  Mug of tea in hand, I stifle my own laughter as I watch more sleepy-headed kids board.  I know almost all of them, and I have no doubt that they would happily sleep until at least 10 AM most days.  

But the mountain beckons.  

“Fresh snow again!” calls one.  

“Pow–der!” chimes another.  

“Yeah, it’s gonna be good,” someone else yells out.

I collect their money, check that they have signed the waiver for the Brattleboro School Endowment, and have them all yell “Hi” to the bus driver. We stop in Dummerston at the gas station, and pick up a few more.  The Dummerston group looks about as sleepy as the Brattleboro kids, and yet they are here, waiting in the cold with all their layers on.

The drive to Mount Snow takes us up and over hills and curves, but these are Vermont kids, impervious to car sickness.  Their eyes glued to their phone screens, they are easy to chaperone.  

Arriving at Mount Snow, I offer my cell phone to anyone who wants it, “just in case”, and I tell them where I will be spending the day. They head off, more energized with each step towards the lift.

I settle in with a computer and start to work.  Although I am ready to venture out for a quick snow shoe adventure, it can warm up a bit more for my taste.

Scheduled to leave at 4 PM, kids start to show up around 3:45.  They know the drill: the Endowment is only providing a bus shuttle service; no one will come looking for you if you are not there at departure time.  They know if someone is missing, they typically know if someone is going home a different way, or even if someone is just riding home.  Right on time, our bus driver starts us back towards home.

The ride back is louder; they are more awake.  Their eyes are still fixated on their screens, but now they are sharing videos with each other.  “Look at this one, how he is jumping off that one,” one says as he shows off what he filmed of one of them earlier in the day.  They pass the phone around, and they start talking about which trick can be done by which person.  They use a language mostly unintelligible to me: “Yeah, he corked that one.  It was a 180… no, a 360… yeah, well he shredded that one… I only 90’d it over on that run…”

I know that as soon as the kids all get home, many of them meet up again on-line with their games.  They will once again transition into non-moving figures with flying fingers, illuminated by the light of the television screens.

But… for at least nine hours today, the mountain lured them.  To be active.  To be outside.  To live in and fully experience this long winter season.  The mountain stared down the video game world–and the mountain won.

The Brattleboro School Endowment has at least one more run scheduled for the Mount Snow Express Bus for 2014-2015 season: Sunday, March 15th.  Weather and bus driver availability permitting, we hope to have our last bus of the season run on Sunday, March 22nd.  This also coincides with a bonus “kids pay their own age” day at Mount Snow.  Cost is $5 each way, $10 round trip.  Special thanks to our four bus sponsors this year: The Marina Restaurant, Vermont Country Deli, A.L. Tyler & Sons, and Lawton Flooring.

Jill Stahl Tyler is a parent to three children involved in the local schools–now at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels.  She firmly believes in all education, and currently sits on the board for the Brattleboro School Endowment, the Brattleboro Town School Board and the Early Education Services policy council.  Contact her at

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