Thursday, 1 August 2013

russian mountains

Lately I've been thinking a lot about rollercoasters. In French, they are called les montagnes russes, Russian mountains. This comes from the fact that the original structures were specially constructed hills of ice for luge thrills in Saint Petersburg. As early as the seventeenth century, people had a need to feel their stomachs drop out of their bodies and structures of around 70 to 80 feet with a drop of 50 feet were there for the pleasure of the Russian people. The French then muscled in on the act and in 1817 built a structure featuring wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds. To give them some credit, they did call this wonder Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville). So they didn't do what I so often do and hear a great phrase and take it on as my own. Credit where credit is due.

I have always loved rollercoasters. It has been a while since I have been on one. If someone invites you to join them on a rollercoaster, it is either a genuine request to enjoy the thrill of the ride, the unknown nature of the terrain, the opportunity to share the adventure, or it's a test to ascertain your level of risk and investment. Ups and downs. The thrill of that stomach-lurching drop and the giddy heights of the summit. The abandonment of control. Perhaps they are calling your conservative bluff. There are some things you can't really know until you have tried them.

I have always loved rollercoasters.

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