Marolt: Not much going on but the weather
Not that we have a choice, but what would you rather have: A dry ski season for the ages like last year followed by one of legendary dumps like this year, or back-to-back “normal” snowfall years? It is something sort of entertaining to ponder. You could probably create a fight out of it without much effort. Cabin fever has its effects.
I destroyed a pair of skis on last year’s skimpy serving of whine on the rocks while barely suffering a noticeable scratch on the bases of this year’s fat skis. Over the course of two regular ski seasons, I would have gradually worn out two pair. Economically speaking, in terms of the hardgoods, the cost is about the same in either scenario.
In terms of getting my money’s worth from the cost of a season pass, I would call it a draw, too. It looks like at the end of this season I will have skied about three times as many days as I did during last season’s Year of the Sprouting Rocks. Add them together and divide by two and you have about what I would ski in an average year.
Last winter dragged on. This one is flying by. Combine those observations and you conclude that life is passing in an instant either way, as usual.
The thing that both an extreme draught year and one full of powder days gives us is something to talk about. We will remember last year’s January earth tone hues as something to tell the grandkids about when the next extreme dry cycle comes and is deposited into the vaults of their own memory banks. Likewise, the brilliant glow of white will illuminate our recollections of this year when powder days came so frequently that we had to skip a few to prevent ourselves from succumbing to injuries of physical exhaustion.
I did not shovel my driveway a single time last winter. Last Thursday, I shoveled it three times and barely kept it passable. In December of 1976, we golfed in Aspen on Christmas Day. In June of 1984, we launched off a 30-foot high cornice at the top of Mountain Boy on Independence Pass. Stay tuned, weather stories do not get moldy with age.
By contrast, the typical winter is good for chamber of commerce brochures. Consistency sells. We average 200 inches of snowfall. We average over 300 days of sunshine. The average visitor to our part of our world has a net worth of over $1 million and still can’t afford the average price of a single-family home weighing in at over $5 million. An average resident sports a healthy-looking tan year-round.
I love a good thunderstorm that shakes the glass of the living room window and leaves me seeing spots temporarily after a bolt of lightning strikes uncomfortably close. I like to pull up the covers listening to the wind howl over the protesting coyotes in the middle of the night. I love watching the snow fall so hard that I can barely see the neighbor’s house. I find spells of heat, cold, drought and storms captivating.
Weather phenomena can be as frightening as it is fascinating and so completely out of our control that all we can do is our best to cope with whatever form it chooses while remaining humble. Whether it only threatens or actually harms us, after seeking shelter or recreational opportunity we are at God’s mercy. There are no choices. We don’t get a vote. Try out your best argument with the weather and see how far that gets you. Dress in layers.
Of course, extreme weather is fun when you live in a place where weather extremes are regularly benign. We don’t lose much property and very few lives to it. Last year’s wildfire was the exception and, thankfully, everybody lived. It is yet unknown if that was a sign of things to come in this epoch of global warming or if it was a freak occurrence that will not happen again for decades.
So, I will ask it again: Would we prefer drama in our weather or the status quo? One is exciting, the other dull. One gives us trivia, the other is largely responsible for keeping us viable for the past 6 million years.
The question can go deeper than how it relates to skiing and memories of how our recreational lives unfold. And yet, at any given moment it is what it is as they say, no matter how annoying that expression becomes. In any event, the most popular topic to talk about was, is and ever will be the weather.
Roger Marolt’s shoulder curiously aches whenever he hears someone call the tip of a ski “the shovel.” Email at email@example.com.
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Nearly five dozen racers competed in the Owl Creek Chase on March 7, continuing a longtime tradition for the local cross-country ski community.