Monday, December 26, 2011

Talismans of Winter

For many years, my general feeling towards winter could be summed up in one syllable: "meh."

Don't get me wrong, as a kid I relished each and every snow day. We had a fantastic sledding hill right in our yard, so flinging myself downhill at frightening speeds was never more then a few steps and a few layers of clothing away. As much as I delighted in the adventure that was sledding and snowman-making, I was equally stoked to come inside, shed all the heavy, wet and cold layers, and wrap my hands around a warm mug of hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

As you get older though, snow becomes less about fun and more about work. When you start having to shovel the driveway at 5 AM in the morning so you can slide to work in a 1-ton "sleigh"(also known as a car), the white stuff loses its magic and become more of a burden to be feared and dreaded then relished and enjoyed. Sure, things like snowblowers and 4-wheel drive make it's consequences a little less burdensome, but its never quite the same.

Unless you're really into snowsports.

Here in the northeast where I live, we have winter. In fact, we're kind of famous for our snowy and cold winters. So much so that the history of many snowsports in the U.S. has its origins somewhere in the Northeast. Yes, we have a long, proud tradition of folks who made lemonade out of their lemons by cutting ski trails into the mountains and more recently, keeping Subaru in business.

For this reason, I am convinced that snow can be magical again, you just have to choose to enjoy it. I am adamant that people who live in the Northeast and complain about snow should do one of two things:

  1. Move. Somewhere in the South so you can quit whining about snow.
  2. Take up a snowsport so you can quit whining about snow.*
*point of clarification: quit whining about snowing. Participation in snowsports does not guarantee against whining about the lack of snow.
Harsh? Perhaps, but I see no reason for people to complain about something that is going to happen every year. And more importantly, something they know is going to happen to every year. So last winter, when I noticed that I was complaining about all the snow and generally having a "meh" attitude to winter, I decided I should probably take my own advice.

Since moving wasn't an option, I decided to take up skiing. 

With a fresh dumping of snow almost weekly, starting with the day after Christmas last year, skiing seemed like a safe bet in terms of a winter sport to help me enjoy the season more. So when the weather started turning colder this fall, I began obsessing over skiing. I watched every Warren Miller flick available on Netflix. I even watched that horrible 80s flick 'Hot Dog' that has more nudity in it then today's NC-17 pictures. I relentlessly researched skis and boots and poles. I bookmarked the homepage of all my local ski resorts and began checking their conditions reports several times a day. I talked endlessly to anyone who would listen about skiing. I even created a spreadsheet cross-referencing the days I had available to ski with the availability of cheap lift tickets at the local resorts. Egged on by the Halloween snowstorm, it was official: I had a bad case of powder fever. 

But now the joke is on me. We've had no significant snow fall since Halloween. Not that that is unusual. What is unusual is the unseasonably warm temps we've had all of November and into December, making it impossible for the resorts to make what Mother Nature refuses to give them. The NY Times ran a story last week about how many resorts across the country aren't open yet, or have so little terrain open, they can't even make enough money to pay their employees yet. And here we are, December 26, what is supposed to be the busiest week of the ski year and things are looking pretty bleak out there. 

For my part, I'm convinced this poor ski season can be directly attributed to the fact that I bought skis this year in anticipation of another good snow year. In my mind, they have become the talisman keeping this snow away. I've skied on them once so far and already I've contemplated selling them on eBay, a sacrifice to the gods to make it snow. 

Of course, without skis, I'll probably lose the motivation to go skiing and end up back at my "meh" attitude towards winter. I guess if I'm going to take my own advice, I should get packing. Maybe this time I will move to Never Never Land, where I don't have to grow up and where snow will always be magical.

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