It's THAT time of year again for Umberto's swimming team, and yesterday was their annual trip to have fun in the snow, together with "athletes" from other areas around Verona. Two coaches brought us up to Conca dei Parpari in the National Park of Lessinia, just north of Verona. A programme of various activities had been arranged for the day in order to cater for all abilities.
As the coach climbed up through mountain pastures which were completely bare of snow, I kept my fingers crossed that the recent rain would have at least dusted the top with some snow. This winter has been very cold but very dry too, and that's never good news for the winter sports resorts.
But we were in luck, and Umberto was so overjoyed he went wading off into a snow drift as soon as he jumped off the coach. We had to haul him out and my first job there was "unfilling" his boots with snow.
This is the view of Monte Baldo from my window this morning. At this time of year the snow line would normally be much lower.
The higher peak in the distance behind Monte Baldo is more thickly covered and marks the beginning of the Dolomites mountain range.
Umberto began with sledging
And when he was throroughly wet from veering off piste and into fresh snow, he gave up his sledge and let some of his friends have a turn
This lovely little lady is in Umbi's swimming group and was at the Christmas party he hosted for his friends from the team. She chatted enthusiastically to me on the coach journey, telling me that spinach is her favourite food and that only that morning she had gained 2kg; a fact which would have had me reaching for a large, comforting gin and tonic and a Mars bar. But not her!!! Her happiness is infectious.
After the effort of whizzing down the mountain and running back up for more, Umberto had a relaxing sit down to catch his breath ....
... and was soon joined by a deaf and dumb boy who instigated a bit of "mountaineering".
Umberto had never met his new friend before (I never did learn his name) but their connection didn't require conventional introductions - or any words at all!
Next it was Umbi's turn to be pulled on a sledge by this saint of an Alaskan Malamute
It was only later when I looked at these pictures that it was clear to me that the dog's owner must have taken one look at my large and very solid son, and had kindly decided her dog could do with a hand in pulling this particular load.
And lastly Umberto tried cross-country skiing.
There are some excellent ski resorts very close to Verona, and Umberto's older brother and sister could already ski before they started school. But I just couldn't ever trust Umberto to ski safely, so he never learnt downhill skiing.
His Instructor Angela was kind, patient, and pretty - always a winning combination
Although it unnerved him when he almost lost his balance ...
... he seemed to be a "natural".
For the Nth time Umberto proved that his abilities should NEVER be underestimated. So often Umbi doesn't have the opportunity to try some mental or physical activity because it is deemed inappropriate in advance. It's a mistake we all make; his educators and his family - myself included.
I'm ashamed to say I had regretted having signed Umbi up for this outing. I'd really wanted some time to be completely alone, and Umberto's Dad had offered to have Umbi for this weekend - so the trip to the mountains "ate" half of my precious time off.
The photo above is my very first selfie. And the happiness you see in that "selfish" Mother's smile is genuine. How silly I would have been to miss out on this lovely day.
And genuine too, is Umberto's sense of triumph at having tried and enjoyed a new sport.
Thank you gorgeous boy, for your wonderful company!
This blog is Pro-Autism.
Thank you, Sallyxx