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Roger Marolt: Letting “Plan B” write itself

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt for the Snowmass Sun
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

I am trying to figure out what I am going to do this winter.

Plan A is the usual: I will ski and work. Those are the ice cubes; I will fill the glass to the brim with those.

Then there will be the family gatherings, holiday celebrations, some other small, safe, socially distanced get-togethers, and maybe a short drive or two out of the valley to scout signs of spring or herd immunity approaching. That will be the lemonade; I will pour it over the ice cubes to fill in the gaps. It will be the refreshment I sip until May. It is the tried and true recipe for life in the mountains. It quenches the thirst. It nourishes the body. It tastes good.

Things could go wrong with this wintertime itinerary though, especially with the virus hell-bent on ensuring we never get back to normal. That has me thinking about Plan B. I am only thinking about it, because formulating it has proven more difficult than imagined. Facing the prospects of a winter like no other is daunting. We had a unique winter two years ago in which we received more snow than we’ve had in decades. That was a fantastic surprise. Now we have a pandemic, which is no longer catching anyone off guard but rather looms constantly. The bitter taste of the knockout drop of the ending to last season won’t leave my mouth.

What if the lifts don’t run this winter? Then we will feel dumb for complaining about the possibility of blackout days on the slopes for locals announced in August when the airport was overrun with private jets, the streets were crowded, and we made fun of the president for saying the virus is no big deal even while we were behaving like it wasn’t anywhere except downtown even though we wore masks on the single-track trails while recreating? We never know what we are taking for granted until it is taken away.

The only thing about my Plan B so far is that it doesn’t include skiing. If it did, it would still be Plan A.

I write “skinning” on my Plan B in pencil, and lightly at that. It’s not that I don’t like skinning; I despise it. OK, that may be a little strong. I don’t exactly hate clanking uphill on expensive ski equipment designed to be lighter for going up than being better for going down. It’s just a lot of work to get a few turns that I am accustomed to getting in abundance for the price of a season ski pass.

Below this, I scribble “cross-country skiing” with my finger in the air above my sheet for second-string ideas. I like Nordic skiing, but it is not a replacement for the alpine variety. It is a workout, plain and simply. It is the equivalent of substituting a slice of cheesecake covered with fresh strawberries enjoyed with your feet up next to a fireplace with a chia seed smoothie formulated for a rapid colon cleanse. Normally, I use Nordic skiing to get in shape to enjoy the gravity-fueled, evolved version of skiing even more.

Erasing “skinning” after considered evaluation, this leaves nothing on my Plan B for this winter. Without skiing in Snowmass Village, the only plausible Plan B would seem to be renting a place on a beach where flowers bloom at the end of January. Absent that, all that’s left here is dedicating abundant quiet time to discovering a cure for cabin fever.

In as much, I actually have spent a winter here without skiing. It was the 1996-97 ski season when I was recovering from an infection and multiple surgeries on my spine. I had no Plan B for that winter, so I began it by moping a lot. Then, a very unexpected thing happened: I accepted the circumstances. Everything got better when I relived Legos and Playdough and all variety of brightly colored, noise-making toys. In short, I discovered my young family that year. Looking back now, it was the greatest thing that has happened in my life. The winter without skiing was an incredible gift; a miracle, really. And it all started with a big groan.

So, upon further review, my Plan B for the upcoming winter is going to remain a blank piece of paper to keep in the junk drawer until spring. Maybe I’ll pull it out then and turn it into the second page of a memoir.

Roger Marolt is optimistic about winter and psyched about fall after the beautiful finish to summer coming up not too soon. Email him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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