Here's to the Salad Days

Bell Lake, up front, skiing

Here's to the Salad Days

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Drew Pogge

Awaiting the bounty of midseason. 

There’s a rhythm to ski season—a drumbeat of snowfall that counts out the winter. And like musicians warming up before a performance, the early season can be dissonant, with mountains and weather doing their own thing while we wait like groupies backstage, fawning over every storm, holding our breath during every thaw.

But by February and early March—sometimes earlier, sometimes later, or, it must be acknowledged, some seasons not at all—the drumbeat strengthens into something palpable in mountain towns. It rings in our bellies as true as laughter. We’re in the groove of winter; in the gut of the season.

After enough storms, enough days of darkness and cold and wind, the snowpack is deep and forgiving. The sun has returned from its solstice, and with it a hopeful joy that is best expressed in a carved turn on a soft afternoon. After weeks or months of skiing groomers and hitting rocks under shallow snow and hiking for fresh turns and touring for more—sweating and grunting and crunching through the transition—our bodies are strong and ready. Skittering rusty edges are tuned laser sharp. Burning lungs become powerful bellows that fuel a singular desire to ski more; to see more. Quivering quads and cores steel stronger with each run, growing harder as our turns grows softer. For what? To keep going. To do more, go faster, be full. Finally the rhythm is set, and in the strange, wonderful days of midseason, feels like it could go on forever.

Ours is a comfortable routine, as the snow continues to fall, making life better inch by inch and foot by foot. We stop fawning and begin expecting.

The snow will never stop; this feeling will never end. Stability is a commodity in mountain towns, places where bust follows boom and people come and go with the seasons. We’ve made sacrifices to be here—jobs and money and relationships—to chase the ideal. This is it. Stop chasing.

And so we fall into the rhythm, and for these few weeks, there is nothing better. There is nothing more. Play, work, play—there is no future, only present. Only powder snow and a sense that we’ve made the right choices; a satisfaction of place and righteousness of purpose.

This is the gut of the season; this is our shot. Take it.

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