Ten Years Gone, Part I

This season, like it did last year, the change is happening without fanfare. Before the 2013-14 season, I worked in recreational retail and the cline to ski season was a tangible and shared experience. Even while the beautiful September weather invited the valley to go out on their bikes, the floor move that rotated cycling gear to the back of the store in favor of the leftover ski gear that spent the summer hibernating in storage, signaled the oncoming ski season stoke should start. Additionally, at my old job, my surrounding community of co-workers and customers, who, like me, were anticipating that first real snowfall, would usually end 1 out of 3 conversations with “Winter is coming,” as a sly reminder that we were almost there. That phrase wasn’t just a cool, ominous line from Game of Thrones, at REI, it was a refrain spoken with the same spirit as a parent telling their 9 years old, “Christmas is coming,” in an attempt to calm them down while they eyed an expensive new toy at the store in October.

These days, things are a little different for me. This marks my second ski season working at my current employer and the community I encounter there may uses the phrase, “winter is coming,” a little differently; probably closer to that utterance in Game of Thrones. In their case, I think it’s spoken more out of fear and dread of cold weather and shoveling snow than any eagerness to ski the greatest snow on earth. For a person who grew up Wisconsin, hearing Utahns complain about winter is like an amputee having to listen to someone complain about a paper cut. So, without my familiar pre-ski season stimuli, I am finding this transition to winter more ethereal; the change is more within me. Just last weekend, as my hands started drying out and I reminded myself to scatter lotion everywhere my life (bedroom, desk, office, backpack, hide-a-key in the wheel well of my truck), I remembered, “Oh yeah, it must be getting to be winter.” Plus, my need to rise out of bed before sunrise seems more natural, more routine. Like the famous “Time to make the donuts” guy, I’m getting ready for those early mornings when I stumble down the hall to my office and sit in the glow of my computer while checking out the avy report.
I haven't decided if a window looking at the mountains
will be a good thing or bad thing this season.
And while working from the fifth floor of a cloned office complex in South Jordan seems a universe away from my old job on the Millcreek bench where the giant Mt. Olympus dominated the front windows of our store, I now find myself taking breaks just to look out the window, across the valley and see a broader horizon that displays the Olympus to Lone Peak segment of the Wasatch. From blue, pre-dawn morning, to backlight sunrise, to afternoon clarity, to early evening gray, the focus of my gaze always seems to be the mouth of Little and the grey wall above Thunder Bowl where I had one of the most amazing tours of my life. The unseasonable warm temperatures in recent weeks might fool some people into thinking ski season still is a ways off, but in a subtle way, there has definitely been a shift in my behavior. Just like a bear that starts pre-hibernation rituals from some sort of innate awareness of the change of seasons, I too find myself in the midst of the transition, but unlike most who see fall as a reminder of the  oncoming season of death, I still see it as the start of something beautiful.


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