Here is the view from the condo we rented for the week. Unfortunately, Aspen looks a bit bleak right now. It doesn’t always look this bleak. When we deplaned early this morning, the sky was a bright cerulean blue, and the sun was so warm that we were overdressed on our ski jackets and jeans.
But now it’s four fifteen in the afternoon here in the Colorado Rockies, and the bleak, white light pictured is actually good news. It means that it’s about to start snowing. And if like the YC family, you are here for the powder, then that is exactly what you want to happen every day between the time the lifts close at around 4 and when the lifts open again in the morning.
I’ve been spending a week or so out west since I was about 25 (give or take a couple of years in the middle when I was either pregnant, or my children were simply too young to partake, by which I mean, under the age of two). This was when the husband and I started dating, and he insisted that I learn to ski. I wasn’t going to argue this point. I had always wanted to ski. Alas, I do not come from a family of skiiers, and when there were high school ski trips, my parents wouldn’t let me go. I can’t say I blame them. I seriously dread the day when I get that first handout from the high school ski club, inviting my child to ski…without me. I got engaged on a ski slope in Telluride, Colorado. I spent half of my honeymoon skiing in Lake Tahoe. And I even skiied when I was in the middle of chemo, in between treatment cycles, although that year we stayed on the east coast, in Vermont.
After all these years, it has finally dawned on me that skiing is a sport that, itself, gives rise to another sport, an armchair sport: the sport of Snowfall Speculation. If you make the trek out west to ski, and the sky literally pukes out massive amounts of fresh powder, such that at night you can hear the steady thunderous pounding of human-created avalanches (a safety measure the mountain resorts take in order to preclude inadvertant avalanches the next day), it’s as if you won. You WON! It’s snowing, and it’s for YOU! You picked the right mountain and the right week. You ROCK. It’s like you picked the winning team in during March Madness. It’s what everyone talks about by the fire in the lodge. It’s what amplifies the “happy” in the apres ski happy hours.
But if you wind up on the other side of Mother Nature’s generosity, if you arrive out west after having planned your trip for the better part of the year only to find that the good trails are roped off, nothing but rocks and ice, and that the trails that are open are so skiied off that you might as well be skiing on the east coast where ice, or “hard pack” as it is euphemistically called, is the norm…if that is the hand you are dealt, well, it feels as if you lost your big hand at the big stakes table. Or like you bet it all and lost it all on the favorite horse in the race. You and your comrades in skiing all look to the sky and wonder, when is it going to open up and give? You ask each other, “do you think…tonight maybe?” When you wake up to the same old skiied off chunks, you feel like you lost again. Like you went to the Superbowl to watch your home team, and they didn’t deliver the goods.
So, I’m counting on the bleak, white sky to be my lady luck right now. Counting on bleak white sky to turn into torrents of champagne powder. And then turn to bright, cloudless blue in the morning.
We shall see….