I don’t know about you, but the first day back on skis every year for me is a glorious combination of the heart-pounding walk down the stairs on childhood Christmas mornings, my first single-engine airplane solo flight 40 years ago, the realization that I’m at the dawn of another winter of fun, and the satisfaction and gratitude that I’ve been skiing for about 70 years and I’m here to enjoy another one.

In the old days, before snowmaking, the first day of skiing usually coincided with the first real snowstorm around Christmas time.

That uncertainty, no longer an issue with the dependability of man-made snow, added to the excitement as we pressed our faces to our windows and counted the flakes, hoping there’d be enough by morning to provoke the local ski area operator to crank up the lifts.

When I drove to the mountain in the dark on the morning of Nov. 21 to get in my first runs this year, all those feelings of anticipation — along with the increasingly nagging worry that those first turns might not come as naturally and easily as they did last spring — welled up in me.

But all it took was a couple of turns to remind me that our muscle memory, at least in my case, is generally far more reliable than our actual memory, and my legs led me back to my old comfort level in pretty quickly.

But I was reminded once again that skiing, and boarding I presume, is all about balance and centering yourself over your bindings. And although you may have done plenty of off-season hiking and kept yourself in shape, your hiking boots seldom tend to slip out from under you if you get your weight too far back, and you rarely catch an edge.

So I always spend a great part of the first day back rediscovering that balance point and getting it imprinted in my mind with lots — and I mean LOTS — of long, slow carves. Besides being great fun and a confidence builder, you won’t exhaust yourself on the first day.

I hasten to admit that my skis (shaped 162s), and concentrating on putting plenty of weight on both skis, has made it a whole lot easier than it used to be. A simple shift of your center of gravity can initiate a turn.

But that’s the technical stuff. The real joy of the first day back begins as winter approaches, and crescendos the night before — a night when my wife will tell you I find it very difficult to sleep, and my skiing buddies tell me I’m not alone.

There’s the drive to the mountain, the familiar turn into the parking lot, picking up your day ticket or your season pass, reacquainting yourself with old friends in the locker room or the lift line, meeting new ones, and racing to try to get on the first chair.

Then the ride up with buddies you haven’t seen since last May, and sliding off the lift and feeling the absolute rush of being, finally, back on ’em again.

Random comments by some folks I ran into on the mountain on my, and their, first day back:

“I’ve never looked forward to skiing more in my life — and I’ve skied since I was 2.” — Dave Nelson, Mount Desert Island

“I’d forgotten that ski boots aren’t bedroom slippers.” — Peter Van Alstine, Camden

“I think these might be the best first-day conditions I’ve ever seen.” — Greg Foster, South Bristol

“It’s both sweet and sour. Sweet to be back on skis with old friends. Sour to think about the ones we lost over the summer.” — Rick Chenard, Tinker’s Island, Massachusetts

“Who boiled my ski pants?” — John McCatherin, Carrabassett Valley

I invite you to stay tuned for the perceptive ruminations of my son, Josh, in the weeks to come in this space, as he shares his insights and thoughts about skiing in Maine from the perspective of a half-century younger lover of the sport than I. Now I readily admit to being a little prejudiced, but I can tell you he can turn both a phrase and skis far better than his old man. And his twin brother, Jake, is no slouch either.

I’m reminded of a wonderful line from my old friend and legendary ski film producer, Warren Miller, who was right on when he said, “One day your children will ski as well as you do. The next day they’ll ski better!”

See you in a couple of weeks.

John Christie is a former ski racer and ski area manager and owner, a ski historian and member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. He and his son, Josh, will be writing a ski column on alternating weeks. John can be reached at:

[email protected]