saying goodbye to winter

There is a peak moment of every winter where I realize simultaneously that the season is in full swing, but that sadly it will also end. Unless you are a paid professional competing globally, involved in the industry or independently wealthy, the notion of a year long winter eludes the common folk. Most of the regular lovers of the snow, and fiends for the pow are at the mercy of the skies. Weather is the factor we cannot control (excluding haarp and chemtrails of course), it is the inevitable numberer of days on the slopes. For many of us, the season ends with the last chairs up at Whitewater. Die hards continue to tour well into late april, even early may, but for many, when the skill hill shuts down, we start to think about changing our snow tires. Planting the garden, getting the bike out, the boat out the bathing suit. Places like Lake Louise and whistler have seasons that extend further into the spring, but around the kootenays, the 1st or second week of April is the end of the season. Spring officially arrives when the board goes back in its bag and the gore-tex gets stashed.

For me this transition is a tough one, especially because the last weeks of march and first weeks of april have been, in the last 5 years, the heaviest snowfalls and the best riding days of the year. It has become the time i most look forward to, and yet by the time it is happening there is already a profound sadness that the snow is done, spring has arrived, and that summer is coming. Having a season’s pass is not a certainty every year, so the last run down the shortsides, the last time i unbuckle the bindings in a year is a significant rite of passage. It may have been the last run i do for a season or two. The winter is something i wistfully bid goodbye to. I thank Ullr for the good times, and i let the snow become flowing water returning to the earth, flowing to the ocean and turning back into clouds.

The water cycle is a profound part of the BC seasonal experience. Water is perhaps our most precious resource, and authentically valuable commodity.  It’s no surprise how important a part of the kootenay winter life the snowpack is, and how this accumulation of frozen precipitation comes to affect us in so many ways. We cringe when days go by in february with no fresh snow, while the east coast gets hammered with multiple feet overnight. Sometimes the the weather has a sense of humour, and perhaps the snow is needed there for some reason unapparent. Fingers point to global warming, and the issue hits close to home when the implications of climate change is that there’s less snow on the hill. This is enough to push citizens to direct action. Winter is a precious few months for us to savour and to shred. . When the rains fully come the whiteroom becomes a daydream again.

Now it isn’t that I dislike spring and summer, for these are truly magical and necessary seasons for the life cycle of all things. The winter just happens to be a happy place for some of us who’d gladly put another month or two of shredding on the calendar. It’s not always popular with the beach folks, but for us, it would be a small miracle. The only real legit reason for weather manipulation other than making arid deserts fertile again.

I love the white landscape and the bluebird skies of the late winter season. As the melt comes on, Bc’s junk piles and abandoned vehicles  start to peek out once again from under that blanket of of pure white that has hidden them for awhile. There’s an indescribable awe that takes over in the winter of the canadian mountains, supernatural, something worthy of the term epic. The touring folks eke the last possible moments out of the various bowls and slopes. When the snow turns soft and the lenses in the goggles change to darker shades. Bidding goodbye to the winter is never something i truly want to do. Surely enough the last days on the hill arrive, with the slush bowl parties and the park laps and the pints of beer on the deck of the lodge, but inside, all of us are feeling a bit of that sense of longing for times past and knowing that there’s a another 8 months to wait until first chair.