Wasn't the weather something last week? Yeah, something a little like last year at this time, and the spring before that, and the spring before that, and every spring before that probably back to the time when deep mud became the ruin of a whole herd of mastodons up at Zeigler pond. That's my theory anyway: Springtime killed the woolly mammoth here.
I am not insinuating that depression over the upcoming mud season killed those beasts. No! They were out playing when it happened. ("It" meaning getting in over your head, literally.) They say those gigantic prehistoric creatures had brains the size of a 4-year-old. If you gave preschoolers free rein over a hillside of mud, what are the chances they'd take full advantage of it?
But, I'm not here to talk about kids and mud. That just makes me miss the old carefree days of youth too much and worry about people with small children who installed new carpet over the winter when everything was white and clean outside and before the landscaping is mature. I really do just want to talk about spring! It's my favorite time of year.
Lots of folks will think I'm nuts, but I have never gone skiing in the rain and come home afterward saying that it sucked. Granted, our March rainstorms aren't the torrential kind they get in the Pacific Northwest that can wipe out six feet of snowpack by lunchtime. Those would suck. Neither are they the kind they get back East that saturate the snow to the point it becomes translucent and then a cold front passes and freezes it in a condition where you can see the grass beneath it as you pass over, teeth clattering.
The biggest hazard of skiing here in a springtime drizzle is that you get filthy. There's nothing like rain to loosen a whole winter's worth of grease and worn shiv assembly rubber from the lift towers just in time for your chair to pass underneath and coat you with a detergent-impervious layer of black gunk. You have to wear the old parka and pair of snowpants hanging in your garage - you know, the outfit you wear to go out and cut a Christmas tree in that you don't fret over when the saw blade slips in your numb hands and makes a jagged cut across your pants or, say, the insulated clothing you wear to change the oil in the snow blower.
I mention this hazard only because through experience I know that the only thing harder than getting that kind of stain out of your ski clothing is getting a couple of bucks out of Skico to pay the professionals to give it a try with their chemical washes. I'm pretty sure that grease is one of the hazards of skiing listed in the Skier Safety and Responsibility Act of 1992, as amended. Who knows? We all sign a document every year swearing under the penalties of perjury that we've read it, but I'm thinking that after they get done with Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong, the federal Perjury Prosecution Patrol could start picking skiers at random to keep themselves busy pretty much forever as the public shows signs of weariness with performance-enhancing drug users.
But skiing in the rain is not really what I wanted to talk about, either. What I like best about springtime around here is that things change so fast. When we get an inch of snow in December, you know it's not going anywhere for a long time. Day after short day the winter stretches on. But, as we saw last week, one minute mountain springtime can look like the heart of Siberian winter, and then two minutes after the sun breaks out you can practically hear the tulips pushing out of the ground. I like that.
That doesn't mean I'm gung-ho for change. As a man comfortable living within the cozy trough of a deep rut, I usually don't do transition well. Maybe because of this, I appreciate the reminder of vigorous change the spring brings each and every day until eventually it just can't snow anymore. It's easy to forget that a lot can happen in a day; the extreme of which, of course, is that it could be your last one. You don't think so? Neither did most anyone else in the cemetery. That said, it is all the more incredible to be lured out into the world in awe of our part of it waking up once again.
Roger Marolt likes cold mornings and hot afternoons, and vice versa. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.