Winter’s siren song still loud | AspenTimes.com

Winter’s siren song still loud

Tony Vagneur

Like good turns on a powder day, the rush is still there, but the change more blurred and the memories less distinct. Was it last fall I rode all over Kobey Park with only a coyote for a companion, or was it many years ago? The temperature was about the same on that trip as now, but the color came sooner to the leaves and the snow was deeper. I wasn’t living at this place then, I don’t think, but still, there were horses out the back door, looking through my window.Did I really spend a winter in that cozy cabin up on the hill with a woman of dubious reputation, or is it she wondering about my notoriety and how we ever came to know each other? If I stand on the front porch, I sincerely believe I can still smell her essence, but that was a long time ago. Her laugh aroused my libido like fluffy powder snow tickles my face on a below-zero day.Was the last circle around my yard with a lawn mower the time I realized the life was going out of the grass and the ground getting hard, or was that last year, or even the one before that? The dirt is soft under my feet today, but it rained last night. One spring, I remembered the dying grass of autumn and hoped it would come sooner rather than later, and now it’s almost here already and the wait was not in vain.An old family friend came up the walk after an absence of many years. I never noticed the gray hair, the wrinkled brow, but I embraced the seemingly quick laugh, penetrating eyes and the strong arms. It was as though he came every year to talk, but our visit was short and as he left, wandering down the path with the hobbled and tentative walk of an aged person, my mind soon could only remember his youthful laugh as counterfeit.Tomorrow, it may be clear and the temperatures warm, but like the miraculous geometric design of the first snowflake, the inroad has been made and under the cloak of yellow, red, green and brown, winter waits, its aliveness held back only by a sun whose long rays will soon be clipped.Six games into the football season and the leather lining of the helmet began to feel like an extension of my skin, a quiet and relaxed smile near my heart, as though I’d been playing for eons. Ten hours in the saddle and my horse Drifter and I move and undulate in the same direction, breathing in the same rhythm, being as synchronized as any two diverse living creatures can be.Under my bed lie the skis, carefully placed on a pallet for easy removal, the rock skis on top, just in case. Quiet all summer, they begin to rattle, making a quick peek irresistible, just to confirm their existence, as if there had been any doubt.Spring and summer are distinct, as clear as the ringing of bells, and make themselves heard by blasting out their pulchritudinous charms, but autumn and winter are far more subtle, living more inside, pulling on our deeper selves to a greater extent than the other seasons. Perhaps last winter never died – it was just forced to sleep under the high mountain peaks – and now stirs.It’s a blur, all right, the wonderful vortex of continuing autumns and winters, one after the other, coming so beautifully, so consistently that we never let them end, only suffering spring and summer as we wait for the goddess of winter, Skadi, to catch her breath.Tony Vagneur salutes skier and writer, Tommy J. Carter, brought home for good. Read Tony here every Saturday and send comments to ajv@sopris.net.