The Life of a Skier
There comes this special time of year when one morning you wake up and have to find your long pants again. There is a nip in the air serious enough that you dig up some thicker socks. Outside the light is more angled, more golden and there is a rustle in the leaves as the first murmurs of winter’s winds play with the yellowing leaves. The sky is bluer than summer in these first throes of fall and it is absolutely still, as if the earth is pausing in reverie in its increasing tilt away from the sun so that we may enjoy the last heat of the sun. The squirrels are out in force gathering their nuts leaving shredded seedless piles of cones where they have been furiously working or throwing them down from the tree tops… as if winter will come tomorrow.
Now a frost or two graces the mornings and the Yellowjackets finally relent in their angry flights pissed off enough to sting whatever is moving from their increasingly torturous cold nights. Mosquitos and flies are gone too, leaving the air brilliantly clear and waiting…
As The Seven Sisters and Orion’s Belt come back into the sky the night air requires one dig out a coat or sweater when venturing out…. wood splitting and wood loading rings around the mountain valleys if one is lucky enough to live in the hills. And yet, a butterfly or two can still be seen dancing among the flowers that avoided their ultimate frosty fate enjoying the quiet of the warm afternoons and mirror like waters reflecting all that is good and right about the world.
And the Aspens, spectacular in their turning in family groups into 60 foot flames of yellow, orange and gold, a hologram in each leaf of the entire tree reminding us that for everything there is a season turning, turning and turning. And I and our tribe, catching as many leaves as we can in this children’s game of catch-a-leaf on a windy day hoping that every leaf caught means an unencumbered powder day, free to fly down the mountains with snow in our mouths when we open to wide to laugh and welcome the dance that dare not speak its name. Better than sex, maybe. More predictable, definitely.
Together, all these harbingers of time share the promise of what is to come. Sometime soon, spinning out of the Gulf of Alaska will come a frisbee of clouds in one of the first storms of the season and will trace its way down the North Pacific Coast to target the Sierra Nevadas, This miracle of temperature, ocean currents and the swirling dervishes of cold moist air lifted by tall mountains will form the delicate art of a snowflake. And them billions more will follow in this age old dance of magic. Of course this first “storm” will by hyped by every weather nut and TV forecaster for a week or so out adding even more excitement to this first event.
But nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the night when the flakes start to fall, perfectly, dancing in the wind and beginning to collect on the ground forming the first white blanket of the winter with enough force and virility to leave, millions and then billions of delicate snowflakes inches and then feet deep. And as I lay awake watching them falling in the outdoor lights knowing as they have since time began, knowing as deeply as I know my own mortality that I will be putting on boots, skinning up my skis and gliding effortlessly into my first turns of winter the very next morning. Like a little kid on Christmas Eve I drift into dreamland with visions of skis slicing through new virgin snow and a smile of great promise on my face.
Yes, truly, I love fall for what it portents… days out skiing with those I love engaged in one of the most amazing lives I can imagine. The life of a skier.
PS Storm is still on track for this weekend. For accurate information on this dynamic developing storm please check out our friends forecast over at: www.tahoeweatherblog.com