birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


I ski so I can forget I'm not 20 years old. When I head down from the top of a mountain, my skis cutting through the early morning crust with its dusting of fresh snow, I am transported to my early 20s when I was fearless on the slopes. My heart pounds. My legs ache. And I smile.

I have rarely failed to ski each winter. Sometimes, I've skied twice, even three times. I stay in shape, more or less, because I love to feel strong on the slopes. I love to stand on top of the mountain and look around me in wonder at the top of the world. The joy of making first tracks in the morning is only possible when you feel young enough to rise at dawn.

I was feeling all of those things as I headed down the slope, heading to the mid-mountain hut for my morning coffee. Shifting weight, leg to leg, edge to edge. Faster. Faster. The wind biting my cheeks. And then bam. I caught an edge and am thrown down hard against the mountain, the wind knocked out of me.

I could not move, at least not at first. My goggles were around my neck, filled with snow. My legs had been freed from my skis with the force of the fall. I untangled them and tried to sit up. That's when I noticed my arm. I couldn't move it. It didn't hurt. I just wouldn't move. Someone called the ski patrol.

I wasn't skiing under control, that much I knew. It was a run named Bambi. Bambi. As I sat at the coffee shack, then the hamburger grill, and ultimately the martini bar, finishing out my ski trip in food stalls instead of black diamond runs, I knew I should have slowed down. I knew I would slow down going forward. And it made me so sad I really did cry.

For years, I felt resolved that my glory days on the ski slopes were behind me. I still skied. But with fear, for the first time since I was a child. Until one day, when I decided I wasn't old enough to be this slow. And I started speeding up. Working out, going to spin class, lifting weights. When I returned to the top of Mammoth Mountain, I spat in the eye of Bambi and headed down, full speed.

On a Continuum

Recovering workaholic