Strange, when you're homesick, how your country can sometimes haunt you. Here I was, high in the mountains in a gorgeous part of Italy, eating a fabulous Italian meal, when friends proceed to tell me this story:
On a past journey to Montana for snow skiing, they arrived without their luggage and snow gear. After asking around, they determined that there was no place in town if to hire gear. Amazingly, a woman at a concierge desk - an angel in disguise - invited them to her home and lent them her and her husband's personal ski gear - free of charge.
After they relayed the story, they said, 'Could you IMAGINE that ever happening here?!?' Indeed, I couldn't. Which is not to say that people in Germany and surrounds are any less friendly; the idea of "random acts of kindness" just hasn't quite caught on here. Instead, the very same friend has an Aunt in Süd Tirol who cooks a meal for her bachelor brother daily, because of a promise she made to her late mother. And that's probably something you wouldn't see often in the States.
But I always love hearing stories like that from people I meet. Stories of astonishment at how kind Americans can be to total strangers. I have to admit that it gives me a feeling of pride that makes me want to rush home and hug everyone I see. :)
And so began our ski weekend in the Dolomites. Stories of America morphed into a very long journey on a chair lift in the region of Helm, which - in turn - gave me far too much time to contemplate the last time I had gone skiing. "Really? It's been seven years?" I asked my husband incredulously. Sometimes his good memory is a bad thing.
My mind was racing. Three months pregnant, I ski a maximum of once per year (for a day or two), it's been seven years since the last time, and I've been a maximum of seven times in my entire life. Yikes. And then we arrived. Just put on the friggin' skis. Take a deep breath. And ski one little turn at a time.
The others continued for another two hours while I enjoyed the sunshine and a good book. When they returned, we tapped our keg of Franconian beer in the parking lot, and with Aprés ski music playing in the background and white-topped mountains peering down at us curiously, we soaked up the last bit of the sun's rays before retiring to a friend's home for homemade Italian Pasta Carbonera.
Some may find five hours' drive to be a bit much for a weekend trip, but the mountains, sunshine, snow, castles, and wonderful company, made it worth every minute.