Adapting

On January 21, 2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone, though the happy cheers of Greenland Midnight (as celebrated by our wise friends Cindy and Bill, who actually like to get up in the morning), followed by the warm sentimentality of watching the ball drop at home, fireside with our children, are still close in my mind.

With each passing year, I notice I’m a little stiffer in the morning, that my knees snap and pop in a way that would make Rice Krispies jealous. I’ve had to add new stretches to my routine, and try to remember to do them regularly, or I end up with sore parts where I didn’t used to even think about my parts at all. All this is to say that, as we get older, we have to adapt — to our changing bodies, and our changing environments. It would be silly to think we shouldn’t have to, and futile to rage against it.

I remind myself, though, that there are people who get up in the morning and face much greater challenges all their lives: physical challenges, mental challenges, and emotional challenges that would probably leave me depressed and couch-bound. There are few things more inspiring to me than to see students of the Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports program making their way down a snow-covered slope, grinning broadly and feeling the inexorable pull of gravity, the bracing cold air on their faces. I don’t doubt that the Adaptive students are driven by the same irresistible forces as me — but in some ways, I’d be willing to bet, they feel the joy even more acutely.

Last summer, I had the chance to sit down for coffee with program director Kathy Chandler. As swallows swooped by our heads outside the Coffee Emporium, we talked about the importance of the adaptive sports program to the fabric of Waterville Valley: bringing the enjoyment of skiing to a broad slice of humanity is at the very core of a big mountain just two hours from a major urban center. I outlined for Kathy the Foundation’s strong preference to invest in things that bring tangible benefits to people in the Valley. Kathy promised she’d look for opportunities, and when she called back a little while later, she was unequivocal: new outriggers to replace the worn units in use by students.

With that spirit in mind, I am very happy to report that, through the generosity of our supporters, the Waterville Valley Foundation was able to fund the purchase of six pair of new outriggers, equipment essential to supporting skiers missing limbs or with limited mobility. Over the coming weeks, when you see adaptive program skiers flanked by blue-jacketed volunteers working their way down Valley Run and smiling joyfully, know that their happiness is in no small part due to your ongoing support.

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Speaking of adaptive skiing and successes: hearty congratulations to Waterville Valley local and Shakespeare in the Valley mainstay Christopher Devlin-Young, who recently won the 2011 Disabled Alpine World Championship Super GS on the 2006 Olympic course at Sestriere, Italy. Not only did he post the fastest time of the day among the sitting class (beating Japan’s Takii Mori by .62 seconds) but he posted the fastest time of the day over all of the disability categories, beating out standing skier (and reigning World Champ, Germany’s Gerd Schoenfelder) by more than 2 seconds. Chris is an outstanding athlete and an inspiration to us all.

Huzzah, Chris!

 

My Waterville Valley Top Ten for 2010

On January 8, 2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

It’s never a good thing when you start to quote yourself, but after I posted this as a response to Jan Stearn’s Waterville Valley Realty blog, I realized that I wanted to share it with the two or three of you who happen by here regularly, too:

My 2010 WV Top Ten

1. A great and growing circle of close, supportive friends. I lived in a town of 11,000 people, and I knew almost no one. I moved to a town of 330 people, and I have dozens of close friends I look forward to seeing and I know I can call on if I need help.

2. An amazingly close-knit community who look after our own. This was brought home to me by both the outpouring of support and concern when Beth Upton sadly went missing in September, and by the incredible response throughout the year to Marc Paul Decoteau’s death in Afghanistan in January.

3. A great school. Much has been said about the Waterville Valley Elementary School’s great test scores; I think it goes beyond testing to a truly excellent education, preparing our kids for life’s challenges.

4. An excellent recreation department. For resident kids and weekend guests alike, the WV Rec Department puts on amazing programs. My kids love After School Antics (especially field trips) — and have learned a great deal beyond fun and games from Rachel, Tom and the crew.

5. Unbelievable recreation opportunities right out our doors. This year, I did a lot more short local hikes, including Goodrich Rock, Snow’s Mountain, East Pond Loop, and some older “lost trails”, too.

6. Great skiing. It’s not the biggest mountain in NH, nor does it have the most acreage, but Waterville Valley Ski Resort still manages to capture my imagination and keep me interested week after week.

7. Great restaurants. In a town as small as Waterville Valley, it’s not a given that you’ll find a great meal. For simple goodness, I heartily recommend Chef Sean Stout’s Buffalo Meatloaf. How can something so elemental be so good?

8. Shakespeare in the Valley. I somehow managed to make it to the age of majority with very little exposure to Shakespeare. Thank goodness for Donna Devlin and Will Hammond and their troupe, who’ve enlightened my summers immeasurably.

9. Foxes. This was a year full of foxes for me… foxes in my yard, foxes on the trail, foxes by the road, listening when I stopped to talk with them. It’s somehow delightful to live so close to something so wild, but so willing to be neighbors.

10. New mountain ownership. OK, so I buried the lead… but yes, this is a watershed event, and one that is already making a material difference in the quality of the experience at the mountain. I am very much looking forward to 2011 and beyond!

 

Farewell, Donald

On January 7, 2011, in Uncategorized, by admin

Donald Jasinski, long-time resident and leading light of the Waterville Valley community, passed away this week after a long illness. That simple statement of fact doesn’t begin to cover the incalculable loss to our small town, or to his many friends and those who loved him. Don was many things — a talented architect, a thoughtful town leader, a grand entertainer, and a sparkplug of community spirit.

As an architect, Don designed graceful and beautiful structures. His signature “Earth Homes”, built into a hillside, balanced sensuous curves and cutting-edge efficiency. Don’s own home on Upper Greeley Hill Road was a prototypical Earth Home. From the road, all that was visible was a simple, cupola-like structure, but as you entered and swept down the spiral staircase to the lower levels, you found yourself in a realm of organic curves with a fascinating play of light through back walls of glass. Don’s home had a unique elegance leavened by a delightful sense of whimsy. Friendly dogs lounged. Frog statues peer at you from everywhere. From an intimate gathering to a party for fifty, the Earth House (like Don) could comfortably accommodate any crowd.

Later in his career, Don designed several of the beautiful homes which grace West Branch and River Roads. He created homes embodying a mountain aesthetic, with interesting forms and angles accented by natural materials. His mountain lodges are easy to spot by the peeled fir pillars he loved. Waterville Valley Foundation treasurer Mike Furgal and his wife Patty live in one of the last homes Don designed in the Valley. Their home has a wonderful flow which — like Donald’s own home — works well for gatherings of any size. Mike proudly points to the care with which Don designed the structure, allowing open spaces entirely carried by the walls, requiring no support posts breaking up the space. Don was unquestionably a master of his art.

Don served our community well as both the leader of our forward-thinking planning board and as our building inspector for many years. He was especially kind to my wife Nancy when she joined the planning board, first as an alternate, then as a seated member. Don believed deeply in the principles of sound planning, and he has left his mark indelibly on our town.

Don Jasinski was also a legendary entertainer. In his younger days, I understand he threw grand parties at his seaside home in Rye, NH. In recent years, he often opened his home to guests for happy times that sparkle in visitors’ memories. I was fortunate enough to attend the Rey Center’s Valentines Dinner at the Earth House last year, and I was dazzled. Don liked to dazzle, and was very fond of fireworks. He often put on shows for guests, lighting the night sky with spectacular displays.

Of all the many things Don gave to our community, to me it seems that we owe him most for his ability to bring people together and promote a strong sense of community. As an architect, Don loved the gazebos of Waterville Valley, both for their architectural significance and for that for which they stood: a timeless and quiet place to sit and soak in the beauty of the mountains. Don was a driving force behind the renovation of several historically significant gazebos in the Valley, and the Sisters Gazebo by the Tennis Center is named for Donald’s own sisters. Perhaps even more important, Don was a founding force between behind the lovely Gazebo Sashay event each fall, and for years served as its informal Grand Marshal. Don loved bringing people together, and in architecting the Sashay, he created a star in the firmament of our community gatherings.

Don Jasinski was a Renaissance man in the truest sense of the phrase; a kind man of many talents who shared freely with his community. He will be sorely missed but fondly remembered.