Biff America: Praise the Lord and pass the flaming skis
VAIL CO, Colorado
Leigh had a new pair of skis made especially for her … to burn. She might have bought an old thrift-shop pair for less money and less fuss. But a used pair of skis would have had plastic, metal and p-tex in them which, when ignited, would release pollutants into the atmosphere.
Being green, my friend commissioned a beautiful pair of sliders made from by local craftsmen with local lumber. The skis will never be mounted with bindings, never be used for recreation, rather they were thrown into a fire and offered up as a sacrifice to god.
Up to now the ski season in Colorado has been a little dry. After a record winter last year, in contrast, we enjoyed much less snowfall bounty in the waning months of 2011.
Leigh and others were hoping to change that last week by wearing Viking garb, singing praise to “Ullr, Ullr, Ullr” and burning ceremonial skis.
No, we are not all crazy, we are religious. By paying homage to Ullr the Norse god of snow we are hoping our devotion and ski tithing will be rewarded with a godly blessing of frozen water.
In Norse mythology Ullr (pronounced Oool-er) was the winter god. He was the son of Sif and the stepson of Thor, the “god of thunder.”
Every year, for nearly 50 years, our town celebrates and worships this Norse deity in hopes that thanking Ullr for what we have and asking for more will increase our snow pack.
It is not only a few fringe devotees; I’ve sat in on meetings with town and business leaders who have suggested that perhaps the dry season might be helped by the scheduled Ullr Fest celebrations. Though many are reluctant to admit it, much of our population believes that Ullr does and will provide.
I am very appreciative of Leigh’s efforts, and of all the faithful, but I have to wonder if it is enough?
After all, Ullr is a god and all you have to do is to listen to politicians, pundits and pastors to learn that God has strong opinions on stuff.
So I called my buddy Gunda who is a full blood Norwegian and knows more about Ullr and Norse Gods than anyone I know. The conversation went like this:
“Gunda, Biff. Hey man our mountains are as dry as a Mormon wedding and we need snow. This week we are paying homage to Ullr. As an expert on Norse gods, I’m asking you your thoughts on how Ullr feels about the presidential candidates. Since all claim to more godly than the next, which one is the most devote and the one we skiers should support?
“And once we know which candidate believes most strongly in the word of Ullr, I was wondering how Ullr feels about same sex marriage, stem cell research, contraception?”
There was silence on the other end of the phone. I assumed Gunda was praying on it so I continued.
“And while I have you on the line, should we introduce Ullr prayer in schools and before sporting events? And speaking of sports, if any of us are professional athletes and we score a touch down what is the best way to let the fans know that we love Ullr; should we strike an Ullr pose of burn skis on the 50 yard line?
There was still silence at the other end of the line, though I could hear Gunda breathing.
“How the hell would I know? I’m a human and Ullr is a god,” my Norse pal said. “I can’t speak for Ullr but my guess would be he wants you to appreciate the snow/blessings he has provided, enjoy the spirit of community and worship him in your own way and not tell others how to live.”
And then, almost as an afterthought, Gunda added, “And don’t call me when you’ve been drinking.”
The good news is I just looked outside my window and it is snowing.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at BiffAmerica.net
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