Why We Have Seasons


Soon the snow will melt

I suppose the purpose of Spring is to make the loss of Winter seem okay. Daffodils are sprouting and cherry trees are blossoming like snowfall caught in their branches.

Winter is almost over, and it is bittersweet.

I enjoy spring skiing–when the snow changes to isothermal pellets frozen harder each night and softer each warm day–but so far we haven’t had much. Instead the snow has kept on, relentlessly prolonging winter. In the past 30 days, we’ve had 13 feet of snow at Crystal. The windows in my house are now completely buried under 10 feet of snow. I tried to dig them out the other day, just to get a sliver of light into my bedroom, but it was futile. The drip line of the roof has created an impenetrable line of frozen snow that bent my shovel.

I love these days

It’s too bad that the days are getting warmer and longer. My favorite chutes are filled in now. All the roughest parts of the mountain are smooth; the snow has covered over all the grooves and crevices and erased the cliffs. But soon the sun–if we do see it this weekend as predicted–will shrink the snow away from the rocks. Soon Winter will lose its grip and Summer will prevail.

I had my hair cut yesterday in anticipation of soon being seen without a hat on.

John balances on the slackline

This is supposed to happen, of course. Life changes. We grow older. Relationships end. New ones begin. Snow melts. Flowers sprout. For most city dwellers, the arrival of Spring must be grand. But for a skier, it’s bittersweet.

Sure, I love sun. I long to feel its rays warm the part in my hair and soften my cold bones. I look forward to walking barefoot in warm grass and dipping my legs in cool water. I can’t wait to trade my ski boots for flipflops.

I just wish the snow could stick around too. I want it all–warm days in the valleys and cold smoke in the mountains. I want to play one day on my slackline and paddle across a smooth lake on my board, then ski powder the next. I want to gather the best moments of my life and live them all at once. Life is too short to space out our joy this way.

Leah battles the wind on Niagras

But then I notice a patch of daffodils and can’t help but look forward to the smell of dirt and leaves warmed by the sun. I’m curious about the wildflowers this season. Will they arrive earlier this summer? Will they be glorious? Will the lake warm up by June? Will the Spring snow stay on the volcanoes long enough to be climbed and skied in stable weather?

We’ve had such a good winter, I hate to see it go. But then again it has been a tough winter. Every snowfall has come with wind. The upper mountain was closed far too often. Many parts of the country had dismal snowfall. Perhaps I should welcome the change.

Not before I ski a few more days however. Crystal will remain open on weekends as long as the snow lasts, so it isn’t over. Soon my windows will let in light again as the snow retreats.

That’s the way it should be I suppose.

17 responses »

  1. We are waiting for spring too. Wishing for drier days, and long warm evenings. We are fortunate in the Northwest this year to have had so much snow and rain when the rest of the country is closing in on drought, but I am really ready for it to stop.

  2. Pingback: Montana spring « Starla's Chat

  3. It is amazing how much different your season at Crystal versus mine at Crested Butte has been! With only a 27 inch base and a lack of snow that is one for the records, we have pretty much given up on winter and embraced spring. Afraid of injuries in the slush, we are putting away our skis and bringing out our mountain bikes. (I have already had a mountain bike camping trip! In March!) I guess our reason for the seasons here is being able to put a bad winter behind us as we get our adrenaline rush on the dirt and talk about how epic next year will be.

    • We had a winter like that a few years back. We call it “The Winter We don’t Speak Of” and try to pretend it never happened. On the other hand, I learned to appreciate even a single snowflake that season. I remember waking to a fresh “dump” of 2 inches and thinking it was miraculous. Sorry you guys had a lousy winter and hopefully you won’t suffer from a drought this summer. But enjoy the mountain biking. That sounds fun too.

  4. I enjoyed reading your post. When I use to ski I remember feeling sad when spring would arrive and the difficulty of letting go of winter. For years winter was my favorite season. The last couple of years I would say I have been shifting to really love spring and all the wonder it brings.:+)

    • I suppose that’s the whole point of seasons. I’m not sure I could be happy living in a place that had the same weather year-round, even if it was snowy and beautiful all the time. I love Summer, too, and the anticipation of Autumn. Right now, I’m looking forward to warm weather activities, even as I’m sorry to see the ski season end.

      • We went for a drive Saturday and I took pictures of the snow on the farm fields and the old barns. I must admit I was sad to realize that it would probably be the last of the snow for the Season. I guess I have mixed feelings. I use to be a strickty a winter girl now I’m shaking it up a bit and including the other seasons as well. :+)

  5. Ah the bittersweet indeed! Every day I’ve skied this season (not nearly enough) has been fabulous! I’ve had some of the best skiing conditions I’ve ever had. We’ve been spoiled this season and last, I only hope this is a long-term trend with climate change, although the naysayers tell us to expect less snowpack and more melting glaciers.

    But yea, I’m getting tired of the cold here in town. I’m ready for shorts and T-shirt weather because my little house is just not warm enough and my feet get cold when I’m working, requiring me to wear my Sorels at home in my office.

    another thought-provoking post. wish I’d gotten my book club to read the book, but with several failing parents, they seemed to want lighter fare. I have shared your book, though, with a couple friends.

    • Thanks Jill. Yesterday was warm in town. Everyone seemed to be outside taking advantage of it. The flowers took a giant leap forward. Thanks for the thoughts on my book and for sharing it. My goal with the book has always been to share my story, because I think others can learn to find strength when they need it the most. Cheers!

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