Exhaling Winter

Snow retreats up mountain walls
pulled on a timed tether

Grasses and brush spring back
to vertical
shiver in numinous light

I smell spring long before color
flushes tree and ground

Tentative breaths still redolent
with winter’s waning chill
ride over my skin

Whispering a promise of warmth
Inhale gently
gaining green.

from the poetry collection “Snow Globe” by Diane Eagle Kataoka

 

Another View: Timeless conflict in the Middle East

In the breath-holding cease-fire between Israel and Hamas over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was catapulted back to the early 1980s when Leon Uris was writing his novel, “The Haj.” The memory is bittersweet, especially of the enormous challenge the author took on: that of a zealous Zionist writing a novel from the Arab point of view.

At the time we both lived in Aspen, Colorado, only slightly removed from the world. Uris was a prolific researcher; he excavated deep, thoughtful and insightful backgrounds in his stories, many of them political.

I had been Uris’ researcher since the early 1970s, when he wrote “Trinity.” The whole process of bringing “Trinity” to life was a joyous one. Leon and his third wife Jill were in the early years of their marriage, they’d traveled in Ireland, and much of this Irish novel was a love story.

Uris was also a nut for history. So much so, that while he was writing “Trinity,” we put a sign above his Selectric typewriter that said, “This is a novel,” because he could so easily get lost in the record of time and retell it rather than stitch his fictional tale into the historical fabric.

In contrast, research for “The Haj” was not easy. Times were troubled, and the Middle East was, to borrow a phrase from Wordsworth, too much with us. As a Zionist, Uris’ delving into Islam—and how the Arab characters behaved and interacted with the Jews—was a complex and painful exercise for him. While much of what our research revealed supported his views, he had to take negative facts and turn them into character qualities that a reader would find sympathetic.

He had read and digested Raphael Patai’s “The Arab Mind,” and thus formed an idea of what he might learn from the Koran about Muslim attitudes toward the Jews when he assigned me the task of a close reading of the Koran. I read it twice, marking references to the “non-believers,” among which were counted Jews as well as Christians. Uris’ interpretation was that the Koran is rife with hostility toward the Jews.

An Arab view, posted Nov. 20, 2012, on IsraelSeen.com states that, “This hostility [November’s Hamas rocket threat] is the direct result of years of anti-Israel and anti Western incitement in the Arab and Muslim world…. In today’s world of the Palestinians, anyone who talks about peace with Israel is a traitor and a collaborator….” [http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3457/arab-view]

“The Haj” opens in the decades before the formation of Israel. Uris paints the Palestinian Jews in as smart and collaborative, while portraying the Arabs/Muslims as hate-filled people who consistently got in their own way.

He rationalized the Arabs’ behavior as supremely tribal, as in this statement by Ishmael, the book’s narrator: “So before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; and the tribe against the world. And all of us against the infidel.” (The Haj, p. 15)

For Uris the entire process was turgid and tough, like trying to motor through a swamp of mud. The cheerful attitude that had permeated our lives during the “Trinity” years was replaced by sourness, a pursed-lips kind of drudgery. He was tormented by the fight between Arab and Jew, a battle that played out in his head and his heart. His use of alcohol increased, along with cocaine and pot. He was irritable and angry and picked fights with those closest to him.

His longtime editor, the legendary Ken McCormick of Doubleday & Co., encouraged Uris in his book, writing that an Arab hero was “an absolutely great idea—a Jew writing a book from an Arab point of view.” Yet, Doubleday’s chief, Sam Vaughan, was not as enthusiastic, according to Uris’s biographer Ira Nadel (“Leon Uris: Life of a Best Seller”). Vaughan cited the use of too much history in place of story, the rough writing, the lack of Uris’ understanding of the Arab mind, and the book’s structure.

I’m certain Uris recognized these as the diversionary tactics of the hesitant part of himself who fought to turn his distaste and distrust of the Arabs into compassion and empathy for his characters. From my perspective as his researcher, he seemed to listen to the facts on any given subject, placing them either in his Jewish camp or his Arab camp, always reflecting the latter against the light of the former.

As the protagonist Haj Ibrahim comments to his Palestinian Jewish neighbor Gideon Asch, who is also his best friend, “You see Gideon that is why you are fooling yourselves. You don’t know how to deal with us. For years, decades, we may seem to be at peace with you, but always in the back of our minds we keep up the hope of vengeance. No dispute is ever really settled in our world. The Jews give us special reason to continue warring.”

The above passage is quoted in a 2011 essay by Joseph Puder on IsraelSeen.com. Puder goes on to say that, “The dialogue presented by Uris [in The Haj] is more than relevant in our own day. Israel provides food and electricity to Gaza, while Hamas-led Gaza uses the land vacated by Israel in 2005 to fire rockets at Israel’s civilian population in southern Israel….” [http://israelseen.com/2011/07/31/leon-uris-the-haj-what-it-teaches-us-today/]

Uris believed the battle between the Jews and Arabs in the Middle East would never be resolved, just as he viewed Ireland’s religious friction between Catholics and Protestants to be an ongoing fact of life. I do not think Uris would be surprised by this most recent turn of events between Palestinians and Jews in the Gaza Strip. Despite his bias, “The Haj” provides an insight about the Middle East. Indeed, Uris considered his book, published in 1984, to be a warning of what could happen.

Originally published: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-eagle-kataoka/another-view-timeless-con_b_2213836.html

Unbound Chamber Music Festival goes over the top

Exhilarated and depressed. At the same time.

The best chamber music festival ever in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., recently concluded. Thus the depression. As summer festivals go, this one is way too short, but it has taken its place in the culture of festivals in the classical music field.

The 2014 Unbound Chamber Music Festival was stellar. In every way. The musicians brought together by the Felici Trio were an ecstatic group of musical individuals. Ron Selka played the clarinet as if he were at sea level. Selka has chops. He’s the principal clarinet of the Israel Philharmonic. Violist Amadi Azikiwe, music director of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, looks more like a basketball player than a violist, but his fingers fly over the strings. Guillaume Sutre’s mastery on the violin enchants as you watch and become entangled in the fine web of music he weaves.

Those are just a few of the guest artists, who join a more or less regular cast of musical characters. Mark Kosower’s cello playing has such amazing heart. Each note registers in his facial expressions as much as the exquisite tone of his cello.

And the music. It did not matter whether a piece was familiar or new, the musicianship was impeccable. From the violinistic fireworks of festival favorite Corey Cerovsek to eight cellos taking the stage for Villa-Lobos, or the aptly titled “A Perfect Storm” concert that took place on a rainy night in the mountains, or for the phenomenal finale that went from fantastic to out of this world with performances of Schubert’s “unfinished” string quartet, Brahms’s heavenly cello sonata performed with passion and perfection by husband and wife musicians Mark Kosower and Jee-Won Oh, and finally the Mendelssohn piano sextet in which Felici Trio pianist Steven Vanhauwaert’s virtuosic playing brought the audience to its ecstatic, appreciative feet.

I slight none of the musicians here. There is just not the time to paint thumbnail portraits of each of them, which does not diminish the joy at hearing them play.

Perhaps the greatest surprise with summer festivals is the magic. As if the small amount of rehearsal time is inversely proportionate to the power and beauty of the music performed.

Holiday cheer in a ski resort bubble

My visions of the Christmas holidays have always been couched in snow — drifts of it snugged up to red New England farmhouses, sleigh bells and sleigh rides, making snowmen and building forts at the end of the driveway to provide shelter for snowball fights. Lots of family and friends and gales of laughter piercing the cold air from toboggans whooshing down the hill.

That was childhood. I no longer live down a country lane. I live in a ski resort, a place that many, many people like to visit for the holidays.

This is a land of contrasts — hot summers and cold winters, mountains and desert, times when making a left turn is a no brainer and times when left turns are impossible. This time of year a day that begins with a Robert Frost snowshoe trek in the quiet woods can segue into an encounter with herds of wild city people running amok in public places.

On one of the first mornings of the New Year, my husband and I bundled up for the cold temperatures and headed out snowshoeing with our dog to the deep woods and meadows just outside town, a place crowded only with drifted snows and pines. We drove past flocks of people sledding and building snowmen. They used what was at hand — pine boughs and needles to cover the snowheads with bushy pine dreadlocks.

Up at the tops of the several sledding runs, dads gave their charges a push and shouted encouragement as they slid down the hill. Kids shrieked with fear or glee as their round saucers picked up speed. Anxious mothers in fashion boots rocked from one cold foot to the other, watching, ready to catch or rescue.

A mile or two farther down the road, we parked, slipped into our snowshoes and set off into the track of a snowmobile. In this deep snow we would have been postholing without the symbiotic trailsetting of snowmobiles. Clods of snow fell from branches, landing with muffled thumps. And except for the occasional discontented raven squawking at our intrusion, the only sound was the squeaking of snowshoes on snow. Our contentment was complete. I looked around at the graceful pines hung with snow, the almost-fluorescent blue sky above and wooded snowfields that seemed to stretch forever — grateful to be lucky enough to live in the mountains, in a town of human scale, without big boxes to supersize our needs.

Back home, we settled in for the afternoon. But a sudden craving for a chicken pot pie dinner propelled me to the market. Off I trundled in search of puff pastry, frozen peas, mushrooms and white wine. Never satisfied to do one errand when I can gang a bunch of them into one trip, I stopped into Tailwaggers, which is next to Vons, for homemade dog cookies. There I ran into two friends. One of them is a crackerjack storyteller, often unspooling tales of drama and trauma. This tale was no different, and I was hooked, listening intently, so completely captivated that I lost track of time.

There are few times during holidays in a ski resort to grocery shop without the accompaniment of hundreds of strangers, all packed into the grocery box. Sure enough, I’d missed the narrow window when I could breeze in and out of Vons in a scant few minutes. By the time we’d finished hashing out possible outcomes for my friend’s story, and I walked into the market, the cacophony had reached highest decibels.

Vons is the sole market in town. Its prices are high — Mammoth is a resort market five distant hours from suppliers. I grabbed the second-to-last cart, imagining supermarket bumper cars — a greater challenge even than maneuvering through rush-hour mobs in Grand Central Station. My strategy was to shift into low gear, not be in a hurry, and enjoy the amusing show scrambling in front of me.

Snowboarder dudes ambled with sailors’ gaits in their droopy pants, baggy tops and odd headwear. Gaggles of girls in pastel parkas, couples with overtired tots, middle-aged folk in toasty UGGs — vied in every aisle for space and merchandise in an odd dance of reach and pull, dodge and grab, scowl and smirk.

Checkout lines oozed to the back of the store, carts knitted in and out of those lines in a weird frenzy. People with their carts overloaded to point of groaning waited in express lines, ignoring the sign that limits the take to 15 items.

Now working their tenth day in a row, checkers were on automatic — bobbleheads with deer-in-the-headlights eyes and weary smiles that trembled. Baggers fled from one checkout stand to the next, stuffing plastic bags full of groceries. “Twenty-one days of hell,” a bagger whispered hoarsely, begging me to let him carry out my bag so he could get a few minutes’ respite.

I exhaled upon emerging from the supermarket’s north side entrance onto the parking lot of treacherous ice that can last all winter. SUVs — gigantic white or black behemoths — parked wherever they pleased. Their engines left on, seething with power, they could be transformers, primed to turn into road warriors on the way back to L.A. Small vintage Hondas in shades of teal and turquoise squeezed between them, diminished by the gigantism of the SUVs.

“Made it.” I exhaled again. As I drove home, the calm, wonder and gratitude of living in a small mountain town re-surged. I have lived in the city, rushing here, bustling there, stressed by the knowledge that there was so much to do, and so little time. I remember the feeling of being a tourist, of leaving my life and arriving in some version of paradise, moving in a magical bubble throughout my visit. There is much to be said for coming to the mountains and untying the knots of city living. While I no longer live down childhood’s quiet country lane, I can’t imagine living in a more perfect place, where eyes lift to a vertical, mountainous horizon. And despite the squeezed feeling of a very full town, I welcome holiday revelers to come and explore their individual touristic bubbles.

Restless Furniture Syndrome

I wake. First day of spring…time to move the furniture around.

What? says my husband, who by now, after nearly 30 years of navigating my quirks, should be used to enduring my restless furniture syndrome, but who still stumbles over obstacles every time the syndrome grips me.

Groan, moans my dog, who rushes to hide behind whatever chair or couch she thinks is safe. It’s not.

What is it that rises with an such intense craving—the turning of the seasons, new energy sources sprouting out of the softening ground, new cloud shapes, sunlight entering the house at new and brighter angles, the memory of a stylish new Easter outfit, with hat?

Something about renewal, waking up after a winter’s hibernation, birds chirping a joyful accompaniment. Life is good.

I needed more input. I Googled “spring fancies” and all that came up was the line of poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson: “In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” So is this aberration I go through all about love? Love of home, perhaps, of nest feathering and placing these fine antiques where the sun will light them up?

Not really.

Aha! Spring fever. The ubiquitous Wikipedia has turned up a definition: “It refers to an increase in energy, vitality and particularly sexual appetite…”

Okay, so with regard to the first two increases, I’ve got them. I’ve been known to muscle all the furniture in the house into alternate configurations because of some nebulous idea I’ve had.

Often when I stand back and survey the results, panting slightly because I did it all in the space of minutes, I see that this is not quite the arrangement I had imagined. It’s like catching a leprechaun. Oh, there it is, over there. Rustle and hustle and move the load again, uncover the secret.

Could it be my astrological sign? Libra. Balance, looking for the perfect symbiosis of furniture, nest, love. Or it could be far simpler: a new beginning.

Once the furniture is arranged, there is plenty of energy and vitality left to feed the other appetite. But that’s another story.

Unbound Chamber Music Festival goes over the top

Exhilarated and depressed. At the same time.

The best chamber music festival ever in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., recently concluded. Thus the depression. As summer festivals go, this one is way too short, but it has taken its place in the culture of festivals in the classical music field.

The 2014 Unbound Chamber Music Festival was stellar. In every way. The musicians brought together by the Felici Trio were an ecstatic group of musical individuals. Ron Selka played the clarinet as if he were at sea level. Selka has chops. He’s the principal clarinet of the Israel Philharmonic. Violist Amadi Azikiwe, music director of the Harlem Symphony Orchestra, looks more like a basketball player than a violist, but his fingers fly over the strings. Guillaume Sutre’s mastery on the violin enchants as you watch and become entangled in the fine web of music he weaves.

Those are just a few of the guest artists, who join a more or less regular cast of musical characters. Mark Kosower’s cello playing has such amazing heart. Each note registers in his facial expressions as much as the exquisite tone of his cello.

And the music. It did not matter whether a piece was familiar or new, the musicianship was impeccable. From the violinistic fireworks of festival favorite Corey Cerovsek to eight cellos taking the stage for Villa-Lobos, or the aptly titled “A Perfect Storm” concert that took place on a rainy night in the mountains, or for the phenomenal finale that went from fantastic to out of this world with performances of Schubert’s “unfinished” string quartet, Brahms’s heavenly cello sonata performed with passion and perfection by husband and wife musicians Mark Kosower and Jee-Won Oh, and finally the Mendelssohn piano sextet in which Felici Trio pianist Steven Vanhauwaert’s virtuosic playing brought the audience to its ecstatic, appreciative feet.

I slight none of the musicians here. There is just not the time to paint thumbnail portraits of each of them, which does not diminish the joy at hearing them play.

Perhaps the greatest surprise with summer festivals is the magic. As if the small amount of rehearsal time is inversely proportionate to the power and beauty of the music performed.

Home Sweet Home

I was talking with a friend this morning about the strange corners we can find ourselves in at times in our lives.

Last week my husband and I had to vacate our home—an expatriation for three weeks while plumbing and wall boarding activities rehab the place with improved water pressure, clear water free from rust and a whole lot of drywall dust—that fine white dust that permeates everything.

It wasn’t a simple matter of packing for vacation; we had to empty closets where hot water heaters live, clear out bathrooms and kitchen, cover it all over with floaty plastic sheeting, and then try to fashion some kind of weird life in squatters’ quarters. First we found a condo in the throes of remodeling—subflooring, stove and sink but no counters, air mattress for a bed, rough bathroom.

Here’s where we discovered the nature of the drywall dust, and vacuumed it for two days before we moved in. Still, every time we got too close to a wall we had telltale white smudges on all our clothing that don’t easily rub off.

Here’s the thing: it’s not easy to relocate. People said, oh, a vacation. Baloney. In some strange twist of emotions, I fell apart. I wanted to go home. I couldn’t live in drywall and subfloor. I had no Internet, no counters on which to prepare meals. I didn’t have with me any of the feathers that fluff up my home. I was not happy.

Our dog was disoriented. Every time we left the place, she turned toward home. She wanted to go home as badly as I did. She could not be soothed by a Tanqueray dirty martini.

Two days later, though, I had brought my level back to center. We had two camp chairs and we sat out on the deck for hours, watching the clouds and smoke from distant fires move over the mountains and through the pines. We talked. There was no TV. We plotted novels, scribbled poems on bits of paper and read books. A new normal. Even our dog relaxed. She was with her people, after all.

We don’t have the flexibility we had when we were younger, my friend said to me. Now, it is not such an easy matter to go with the flow.

Take, for example, the beds in the two squatters’ condos we’ve been fortunate enough to have at our disposal. The first was an air mattress—hard to lurch up out of from its place down on the floor. It felt like a waterbed when one of us got up, leaving the other to rock its waves. But it was comfortable and we slept well. The second was a real bed, easy to slide into, but hard as granite. Sciatica and bum shoulders don’t allow for a good night’s sleep on an extra-firm mattress. That, too, has been fixed by the loan from my friend of a foam camping pad. Dreamland is mine.

It’s a good lesson to learn to remain as flexible as possible. And the greatest takeaway, besides the joy I will have when at last I am back home, is that even bare-bones living can work when you get into a routine. I see homelessness from a new perspective. Even homelessness can begin to feel like home when it has rules and rhythms.

Autumn’s Saddle

At the acme of any cycle – the seasons, the moon – a sweet poignancy holds me in thrall. Like a carnival ride that shoots us to the top, where we pause for the briefest of breaths. And then we begin the free fall into the next cycle.

The fall equinox, September 23, held me for just such a moment between waning summer and waxing autumn. It is fall, not spring, that quickens my step, dawning each day with excitement and anticipation.

It is that feeling of anticipation I’ve experienced since I was a kid… Fall has always meant new beginnings… one year older and a brand new school year.

It is that time of great fishing and hiking, the saddle between summer and winter, the off-season. It is a miraculous time. In the burnished light of autumn, people seem to walk around in a daze, as if internal springs have loosened, less tension on them.

Up in the mountains, where seasons have distinct personalities, we stretch out into fall, savoring every moment of daylight on hikes and walks through aspens lit up from behind as the sun goes down. Nights grow imperceptibly longer, pulling us toward close winter nights indoors.

We preserve summer’s bounty so we can enjoy fresh tomato sauce or squeaky green beans at our winter dinners. It’s a genetic thing in humans as in animals to store up for the winter. Cravings for bacon, stews, mashed potatoes signal an ages-old physical preparation to add bulk against the cold. Bears do the same thing, filling up for their own dark winters. Squirrels scurry, stripping myriad pinecones of precious seeds.

Out come parkas and hats, ski equipment examined, dollars counted for new gear or a visit to yard sales and consignment shops. Cross training is in full gear, to be ready for opening day on the Mountain.

We take trips in this interim time, lying on beaches, traveling to spots all over the world or across the country. They provide perspective on our lives and businesses, a chance to fill up on theater, music, museums, to spend luxurious time with friends or relax with a good book. Because returning home, whether by car or plane, causes an intake of breath, a sureness that we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Stupid Shoe Season

Summer took its sweet time in coming to Mammoth this year. But when it finally blew in, soft and warm and fresh, I threw off my shoes and chose a pair of sandals I had despaired of ever being able to wear this summer.

I felt like dancing. The sandals were so light, it was like shrugging off, with great delight, the cumbersome vestiges of winter, and welcoming in golden sunshine.

When my husband saw me with sandals on my feet, he stopped in the middle of his words. “Uh, oh,” he said, “stupid shoe season.”

His response is understandable. He grew up in New York City, where places to stub naked toes lurked on every street corner, down every set of subway stairs, and where parks provided untold numbers of opportunities to step in dog poop. His belief in “sensible shoes” comes from his personal experience. Not the sensible brown oxfords matrons used to wear as they walked up and down Second Avenue pushing little shopping carts, but sensible in the sense of completely wrapping the feet in protection—in things like sneakers, boots, preferably ski boots.

In California, people are born with sandals on their feet. They can maneuver in them, run, hop, throw Frisbees, dance and hike in sandals. They wear them year round, hot weather or snowy.

I grew up without sandals. When summer came to my childhood neighborhood and the grass—coddled by my father into a thick green carpet shining with morning dew—I begged my mother to let me “wear bare feet.” I’d rather go barefooted than anything.

We had rites of passage every summer when we were between four and 10 years old: Walking across our street without running, without getting up on tiptoes; and walking the entire length of the graveled driveway; then running on the burning-up, melting-tar streets of summer without feeling the burn. All these challenges became moot as soon as the soles of our feet toughened. And it always felt like prison in the fall when we had to put our shoes back on.

My first pair of sandals came when I was in college, when peer pressure dictated that we wear blue jean skirts and Bernardos. Good thing the Italian sandals came in lots of colors, because they were awkward and uncomfortable—kind of flimsy and floppy, not good to run in, and they always made the space between my toes itch like crazy.

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago on a hike up McGee Creek with a friend who sallied forth up the trail in light, airy Tevas while I trudged in closed-in, hot hiking boots, that I finally realized how far sandals have come. I made a beeline for Footloose Sports, found what I was looking for, and now, needless to say, my feet are much happier, my toes protected and my hikes much cooler.

So, welcome to stupid shoe season, another word for summer—wonderful, warm, sparkly summer. I, for one, am happy it’s here, no matter what you call it, no matter what you wear on your feet.

The Art of Bootfitting

“I like to know that when someone walks out the door, they’ll have as good a time as I do. That’s what it’s about…fun,” says Corty Lawrence, left. “I enjoy it,” added his son Zach. “You apply what you’ve learned.” Both Lawrences are bootfitters at Footloose Sports in Mammoth.
“I like to know that when someone walks out the door, they’ll have as good a time as I do. That’s what it’s about…fun,” says Corty Lawrence, left. “I enjoy it,” added his son Zach. “You apply what you’ve learned.” Both Lawrences are bootfitters at Footloose Sports in Mammoth.

Corty and Zach Lawrence are artists. Most people think they are skiers and master bootfitters, which they are, but in their souls they are artists who apply their artistry to all their pursuits, with equal passion.

Corty has mastered the art of charcoal, pastel and pencil drawings and Zach is an accomplished musician; he plays guitar and trumpet, and records the music he improvises. “I play every day, I could play for five hours,” Zach said.

Consciously or not, both have transposed their artistic spirit into the art of bootfitting. They talked about art, business and sport in their lives early one December afternoon at Footloose Sports.

Corty started out working at Footloose 32 years ago when he asked owner and boot guru Sven Coomer for a job. “He taught me everything he knew,” Corty said.

“Sven brought bootfitting from caveman days to a science. He knew how the body worked biomechanically, and he came up with SuperFeet,” Corty said. With these insoles the feet are supported, stabilized and aligned from beneath. Thus … better edge pressure, better control, better balance. “What Sven understood was that the best solution is underfoot support.”

For both Lawrences, father and son, bootfitting is problem solving. “They both know how to listen, then they’re able to explain it back to the customer so they understand,” said Mary Lawrence, Corty’s wife. “People skills are number one: relate, listen and explain.”

The senior Lawrence is happy to have his son working in the boot department at Footloose, of which Corty is co-owner (along with Tony and Andrea Colasardo). Zach grew up in Mammoth, in Footloose, went to college in Durango, Colo., and he and his wife Shaina came back to Mammoth a few years ago when their daughter Andrea was born.

“The opportunity was available and I didn’t have anything else lined up,” Zach said, implying that music might not always pay the bills. “You can’t sell your own art,” Corty added, having spent about nine months in Southern California after college trying to sell his art before coming to Mammoth to work.

Zach was almost born at Footloose, where both Corty and Mary were working in the winter of 1983, a big snow year. “I worked until I was ready to explode,” she said.

“Zach came to work with us, stayed in his infant seat. He hung out with us, we took him everywhere. I suppose he learned the business through osmosis. We had to keep moving the merchandise, like sunglasses, higher and out of the youngster’s reach,” Corty said.

Tony and Andrea Colasardo’s kids, Michael and Daniella, as well as Zach, grew up in the store and worked there during Christmas, holidays and school breaks.

“We like to think of ourselves as a family store, so it’s a great thrill for us to have them come back,” Andrea said. “Zach has been great. He jumped right in. It’s second nature to these kids; they grew up in the store.”

Skiing is also second nature to these people named Lawrence. Corty’s mother Andrea Mead Lawrence, well known to Mammoth, was the first American alpine skier to win two Olympic gold medals (for giant slalom and slalom in the 1952 Oslo Olympics when she was only 19). Corty has been skiing all his life. “Skiing is like breathing. I don’t remember learning,” he said.

Zach “skied right off the bat.” In fourth grade he switched to snowboarding, but he’s been back on skis for four seasons now. Corty remembers that the two of them were riding up Chair 2 a year or so ago when Zach said, “Dad, this [skiing] is a lot more fun than snowboarding.”

Theirs is an extraordinary legacy. On the skiing side, the excitement the two men feel is palpable. At 60, Corty is as much of a nut for skiing as he ever was. He still gets that shiver in his belly on a ski day. And, this winter Zach, who is 32, will extend that legacy when he introduces his four-year-old daughter to the sport.

As they sat on their boot-fitting stools in the boot sanctuary at Footloose, finishing each other’s sentences, laughing and talking, it was clear they’re having a ball. Through the science and art of boot fitting, Corty and Zach get stoked when they can increase their customers’ joy in skiing.