Saturday, November 05, 2005

What It's All About

Sometimes we're jolted from our routines. We ask ourselves "Why?" and bemoan the inconvenience. We lose sight of the things that define us, that live inside us and guide us, unseeing, unknowing.
And then it snows. In October.
There's nothing especially remarkable about snow in October in northern Vermont. Rather, it's the presentation of it, the context in which it arrives, that distinguishes it, that sets it in our memories. This year's snow was especially poignant, coming on the heels of so dreary a foliage season, so warm a September. And when life gives you ski.
The storm dumped about 2 feet on Mt. Mansfield, home to Stowe Mountain Ski Resort (or, as I and several thousand others refer to them, "my trails"). Down in the Village, we ended up with 5 or 6 inches, enough for the boys to build snow forts and launch the season's first internecine encounter. Enough to make it feel like winter.
Winter is what we live for. The cold air pressing on every square inch of your body, scalding your lungs, drying your lips and changing your words before they're heard. We live for snow deep to our knees, for blue-bird skies and stars so bright they hurt your watering eyes. There's nothing that brings you so alive as winter. The skiing is just our specific addiction to this season. It could be snowshoeing, it could be just sitting by the woodstove. You do what you do when the time comes.
So we skied. On October 30, on a perfect, sunny Sunday, we slapped our skis on our shoulders and hiked up a trail called Chin Clip, not too far, and slid down the Mountain. Why? Because it's what we do. It's who we are.
Bonjour l'hiver.