Paragliding Day 15

“What are you going to make for lunch?”, Ben asked at the end of our Saturday morning session. “Something simple, probably sandwich,” I replied. “Today feels like a grilled cheese day,” he remarked. That sounded right. The morning had been the coldest of our sessions thus far, cold enough for a heavy balaclava under my helmet and minor regret that my gloves lacked fingertips. When I returned home I made a grilled ham-and-cheese… quesadilla? The tortilla crisped in bacon grease, the ham warmed briefly in an adjacent pan, the cheddar got an assist across the finish line from a hand torch, freshly sliced scallions added some color and bite, and a little spicy mustard for dipping completed the experience.

Wherever you land on the taxonomy of my lunch I can confirm that it satisfied. Not long thereafter I fell asleep on my couch for ~90 minutes after some reading. I recently regained the ability to take afternoon naps after a long and painful period where grossly excessive stress had left me too strung out for such downshifts. What a wonderful thing I had been missing. When I awoke I set about the task of clearing garage space for my car in anticipation of snow. Consequently I continued to accumulate background processing time for this journal entry.

The morning had offered strong wind from the outset and thus kiting with a small wing seemed the sensible activity. I got in a solid couple of hours of practice for which my brain was thrilled and my knees were moderately grumpy. Much of that time was spent building deeper muscle memory for a variety of skills that are quickly becoming much more natural with practice. I can feel myself with increasing ease flowing through a variety of corrective inputs to include changes in hand pressure, bends of the knees, twists of the hips, and movement of the feet.

We also practiced acquiring and manipulating the lines in a variety of ways to build confidence that I can handle an assortment of situations: drop the brake handles and reacquire by the lines; launch with a minor line twist and resolve it on the fly; grab the C’s for a rapid deflation; navigate from the brake lines back to the brake handles; smoothly turn over an upside-down wing from a reverse inflation gone awry; quickly turn around to escape a collapsing forward inflation. A couple of hours into this I got caught by a strong gust while performing a turnaround, pulled off my feet, and faceplanted. I decided to take that as my cue that the morning was at an end. Despite the violent finale it proved a great session.

I’m looking forward to being able to launch off the top again but no sooner had I done that we went into a block of uncooperative weather. Even before the weather precluded it, however, I had already decided that Saturday’s training should not involve my feet getting off the ground, having self-assessed that I did not meet the criteria for the ‘E’ in an important checklist:

  1. Illness
  2. Medication
  3. Stress
  4. Alcohol
  5. Fatigue
  6. Emotions

In the short time I have been in Utah I have felt many joyous or serene moments tempered by a countervailing grief. In particular I have found myself on many such occasions imagining how much my youngest brother John would have enjoyed coming out here for a week’s visit. Saturday marked the first anniversary of his passing and the thought of everything he is missing weighs heavily.

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