Roger Marolt: The end of a great winter is the beginning of a more glorious spring!
It’s not just because the lifts are closed for the season. It was a different switch that got flipped April 21. I felt the finger on it April 19. I sat on an old, slow lift talking about baseball with my brother. My jacket was tied around my waist, my gloves stowed beneath my left thigh. I rolled up my sleeves and felt the same extra-strength sunshine that was basting my face now toasting my hands and arms all the way to just below the elbows. It felt familiar and good.
There was no anticipation of where we were going. We were not trading ideas about the perfect combinations of trails leading down from the point where we would end up in 13 minutes back to the point we just started from. There was plenty of time left in the day to leave a lot of runs undone, the mere thought of which felt satisfying in its laziness.
It was a given that we would not be going back to the the gondola that is an actual string of mini greenhouses moving up the mountain this time of year. We may have been ripening, but we are not tomatoes. Conversely, we would have to work up deeper sweats before the breeze created by a high-speed lift would feel refreshing. For the time being we were content to ride a slow chair beneath a sun showing off straight above, like it never finds the energy to do in the wintertime.
Slush is the great equalizer of ski runs. Everything is fun in that wet snow that feels like the foam of an ocean wave rolling under your feet. And, yet, as easy as it is, it wears you out like no other kind of snow. It can’t be us. We’ve been skiing all winter and our thighs are as firm as a Rotarian’s handshake and the joints supple from good use. No, it has to be the heat. It takes it out of you. Your body is fighting like crazy to cool down. You get dehydrated quickly. Isn’t it great!
And to think, it was barely a month ago it was snowing hard every day, as if punishing anyone who ever dared think that shoveling it was a good, measured dose of naturally occurring exercise. I’d get up early and shovel the driveway to stay ahead of the storms and then get home in the evenings and the place looked like it hadn’t been touched in a month. It wouldn’t have been so hard, except I was exhausted from the once-in-a-decade ski conditions we were reveling through in between.
My hands were calloused below the fingers from the shovel and on the palms from the ski poles. My shoulders flared from pinching the rotator cuff by throwing the snow over banks that were topping the height of the average NBA center. My back was stiffer than the price of a chiropractor. But all that just made me feel young again, like I knew I would heal fast and actually believed that what didn’t kill me only made me stronger.
It was then we said things to each other like, “I hope this never ends!” and, “skiing is going to be awesome all the way through Memorial Day!” like we meant it and not in the usual ways in regular winters when we posture to let everyone know and convince ourselves that we have signed the papers to adopt skiing as a lifestyle. We truly hoped the atmospheric river would never stop flowing into the reservoir that was the snow globe we were living in.
But, it did stop flowing and we were a little sad about it, until the sun came out and we muttered to ourselves, “Hmmm, not bad.” Then the ice started to melt from the driveway and we said, “Better.” Then we started to see bikes on the tops of cars heading west to Moab and neighbors wearing checkered shorts unloading golf clubs after a day in Grand Junction and we said, “Wow! Summertime is around the corner and the corner is sharp and we will be peering around that corner before we know it and then it will be fall again. Yikes!”
At that point we began a plan. It started with raking the lawn while the ground was still soggy, so that when the earth finally firmed up we would go for our first hike of the season. Then summer will take to its wings and fly. Oh yes, it will be a glorious thing to behold. I am ready!
Roger Marolt is an avid fan of spring and an aficionado of summer. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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