Song Thoughts - Tree Line, Climbing Up and Sliding Down

This is the first track on my EP Burnt Toast. There's also a more live sounding version of it on my album Porcupine. I really want to make a music video with this one! It is my most commented on song when I play it live. People like it. They love it. It’s very rhythmic, and there’s a tempo change in it that makes people laugh. At first I was a bit unnerved by that, until I realized they weren’t laughing at me. Climbing up and sliding down is pretty universally fun; even if you don’t ski you can probably enjoy the sentiment. Otters know it, kids know it, it’s what water parks are built on. Skiers definitely know it.

For a couple of dreamy years I had every Friday off. I was addicted to back country skiing. My kids were in school. So I would drive up Hudson Bay Mountain, skin up and do a few tree runs, eat my lunch, enjoy the stunning view up there on top of the world, and come back down the mountain feeling amazing. I was often accompanied by my friend Sarah, or my dog Sally. I often went by myself. Skiing is one of those activities that you can do quite happily on your own (with a big pack of supplies, safety gear and a cell phone). On the days I went without a dog I would get to see amazing wildlife, like foxes and wolverines (hence the wolverine tracks in the lyrics). I often skied on the weekend too, but I remember my solo missions the best. These days I have not been skiing addictively like I used to do. Those were the golden days of my life.  

Since our son Alex finished high school almost nine years ago I have been home a lot more than I ever dreamed I would be. He has a developmental disability and cannot be left alone. It took a whole year after he finished school to get any kind of services for him. He’s actually really easy going and fun to be around, for the most part. He loves music; he’s patiently listened to all of my songs almost as many times as I have. He’s a staunch music festival lover and can always be found in front of the main stage. But I‘ve often looked back on those skiing days with longing. Our huge and exciting news is that soon Alex is going to be living in his own house with his own 24 hour staff. So we will get more flexibility and freedom. Sad to miss all those moments together, but relieved to have someone share the care. Perhaps some new kind of golden days are ahead of us.  

Whenever I am skiing I feel poignantly what a metaphor it is for the rest of life. It is very slow, hard work to get up that mountain. It’s always hard. It involves a lot of sweat, tons of it, dripping down your butt crack. And the ride down isn’t always that smooth and perfectly mastered. There is a lot of learning to do on those usually forgiving snowy slopes. Yet it feels like play, and is incredibly rewarding. It is amazing for the self-confidence, to be able to do such an independent activity, get the body moving strongly, in harmony with the mountain, with Mother Nature.  

So, in sharing this song, I hope that you have your own activities that bring these types of sensations, satisfactions. Life is hard enough without some sort of play to get you through.  

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back next week with some more musical musings on a rambling river… and the next title on my new EP Burnt Toast.

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