photo by Lydia Stern

Snow koans

It’s a bit of a stretch but we are trying to find something good in missing out on a big early snow year. We can all use new lessons. We all need at times to be slapped with new perspective even when it is uncomfortable. It keeps us sharp and humble.

So, like a Zen koan, we might all continue to be tested if the jet stream doesn’t shift a few miles. What do we learn when we go to bed under the winter storm warning and wake up to—a dusting? Those just over the hill in Aspen, a short summer’s walk away, woke up to a fresh foot of fluff on Tuesday, while those of us below Paradise Divide did not even bother to get out the snow blower for a fresh inch.

Such surprises can be a test and a lesson. Perhaps we learned that expectations aren’t always met. Did you expect face shots under the Queen? Are you expecting too much from El Niño this winter? Were you expecting Teocalli Tamale to register the first powder day closing of the season?

What’s the answer to the riddle about blowing an edge on a run down Jokerville? Is it to learn the value of patience? Or is it the common sense need to choose rock skis under obvious circumstances?

Is the Fat Bike energy pushing the jet stream away?

Are all the valleys silent because there’s not enough for anyone?

What does it all mean?

photo by Lydia Stern
photo by Lydia Stern

In another Zen practice—like a surprise bamboo rod to the back while meditating—those at Fourth and Elk had a slap that changed some perspective last weekend. In that case, someone tested the karma of what little snow we are receiving. It is hard enough to deal with the scraps of snow we seem to be getting compared to some other resorts without some jerk using the modicum of white we do get to doodle in some hateful etchings.

Apparently in one of our recent Saturday night 1-to-3 inch events, someone scratched a disparaging comment about liberals and added a smiley face and a couple of swastikas. It was done on a bench outside of the Caribbean Café on Fourth Street. What!? No wonder we are getting the short end of the powder stick. When someone uses our snow to be an assh*le, Ullr takes offense and makes it clear that is not cool. I hope it’s a bad drunk attempt at a joke but it was a surprise slap that can be a lesson and make us aware of perspective not always ours. Offensive and mean, there is no place for such action in Crested Butte.

We all pretty much understand this is not always an easy time of the year. The days are short and the mornings near or below zero on the thermometer. It will be this way for a while. And when you see the snow report and we’re on the bottom it makes it harder.

But the days will stop getting shorter this weekend. The winter solstice and official start of winter is Monday and that is a blessing. You must like winter at least a little if you choose to live in this valley. We’ve all seen a poor start to a winter turn around and blow up and that’s what we can hope for. It seems that this place has always been more of a La Niña magnet than El Niño. Still, CBMR’s old ski school director Robel Straubhaar used to say he was never worried about when the snow would start—he was worried about how long it would last and when it would stop.

Here’s more of the stretch—Look at the El Donut Hole period as an opportunity. This place is so much about body, mind and soul. The body may not be getting its easy powder turns but that will hopefully change (and don’t have expectations). In the meantime, ride a Fat Bike, slap on the old telemark skis or at least be smart enough (unlike me) to pull out the rock skis. The mind has a chance for contemplation these days. Sit alone in the late afternoon, breathe, and look at the lights on the tree or the candles in the dark. And someone whose soul allows them to doodle hate in the snow can use this time for internal work. There is apparently plenty needed. Maybe that will change all of our karma.

Enjoy the snow koans as we head into the solstice.

—Mark Reaman

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