The Bozeman Buzz

Missing a ski-season ritual.

To an untrained ear, it might evoke feelings of trepidation or uneasiness. But upon proper acclimation, it's the harbinger of a season full of oh-so-sweet rewards. 

A welcome sight for impatient skiers

It's what tells me that another heat-ridden summer has come to an end, as the first significant snowfall arrives in the Bozone. Yet unlike many Montanans, I get the news before I open the curtains to look outside or check the weather report. Crystal ball? No. X-ray vision? I wish, but not quite. It’s the uncontrollable excitement of my two golden retrievers’ tails banging against the walls as they run back and forth through the hallway, remembering just how much fun they had last year with that unpredictable white stuff.

That I can still recall this formerly mundane ritual with such vividness is a bit surprising. This year marks the fourth in a row in which I have missed the buzz of Bozeman’s first snowfall. Since moving to our nation’s capital, my ritual has been replaced by high heels and business suits, research papers, overpriced cab rides, and of course, avoiding those well-intentioned phone calls informing me of how much it snowed at home the night before.

Washington, DC, for better or for worse, is a hotbed of happenings. Save for that much-needed Sunday morning coffee and crepes in Georgetown, the city can’t escape the buzz of deadlines, meetings, subways, lobbying, and legislation—and the constant smartphone reminders of that next make-or-break-your-entire-life appointment. 

Welcome, winter. Happy to have you back.

Yet in spite of my use of the same terminology, the Bozeman Buzz on that first day of snowfall could not be more different. It's the reemergence of those familiar rituals that you knew you missed but didn’t know just how much until you experienced them again. It’s being able to wear with pride your favorite softshell that you never quite put all the way in the back of the closet, just in case. It’s allowing yourself that extra 15 minutes because your car somehow just doesn’t feel the excitement the same way you do. It’s watching that first sedan (with California plates, no doubt) fishtail through the intersection at Rouse and Mendenhall. It’s the somehow heavenly call of the blue light flashing atop the Baxter. It’s stopping by Chalet Sports on the way home from work just to take a look and perhaps, if you’re lucky, smell a bit of ski wax. It is the unspoken: ski season lies just around the corner. Can you feel it?