The deep winter sun approaching solstice.

Snowpack builds and is then washed away. A clear and cobalt blue sky is made hazy by some unknown, unrecognized force. Darkness falls and seasons change. Nothing lasts.





The weather rollercoaster rolled through the Green Mountains these past weeks. Those skiers that were able to take advantage of the 5 feet of new snow had some outstanding autumnal powder days.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. Skiers do this with every turn, every rise, roll, bump, and jump. Adapt, absorb, and keep the skis on the snow. Moving and adapting with the weather — today is sunny and there is fresh snow, not to mention there is rain on the way…. better go!

I took some of my own advice and enjoyed the luxury of putting a good tune on my skis. The next day the skis came alive and returned boundless energy for skiing. Looseness is difficult to attain, particularly in hard snow conditions. The body tenses, mimicking the hard surface. A skier needs to create the antithesis to the hard conditions with movements that resemble that of a bounding basketball player or a ballet dancer. Let go of the ice but stay on the edge. Two skis become one and work in unison to create a dynamic platform that is never static and always moving and adapting. With sharp skis, you can feel the tune and feel the hill. If we are fortunate, we find ourselves in the land of Egan where we can Feel the Turn!

Alpine skiing is an adventure that provides all the thrill without having to climb the hill. Snowmaking is still an astounding venture to me. I can only imagine the hard scrabble hill farmers when they learned that ski areas were pumping water up the hill and spraying out something like snow to cover the trails. The farmers must have scratched their heads at the investment required, when a drip line for the vegetables seemed out of reach. Natural snow is so different from man-made. Natural, soft natural snow invites the ski to sink in, it welcomes the edge. Man-made snow denies entry, resists the edge.

Can you outrun it? The economy, the populace, climate change or politics? In youth, it seemed possible. With all of that energy, optimism and enthusiasm, it seemed like we could just outrun it. Jackson Brown said we could try, but we were running on empty, “running into the sun but we are running behind”.

Navigating the lift corral at Super Bravo, an elegant woman with a European accent instructed me to “just jump in and you figure out what you can and cannot do.” I liked the tone of this philosophy that seemed like it would also apply to skiing. This woman turned out to be with the Swiss Ski Club, a club with over 50 years of history in the Mad River Valley. Can you imagine that? Skiers coming all the way from Switzerland to ski in The Valley. She seemed to imply that there was an open invitation to join them in their happy hours as they celebrate this liquid-filled valley.

The winter solstice signals the start of winter and the return to light. Experiences are worth far more than purchases, in my experience. A day of skiing, and how much is that experience worth? That question should include a comparison. A day of skiing is compared to what alternative? For thrills, mental and physical challenge, skiing seems incomparable as an experience. And judging by the full parking lots, it’s not a secret anymore. At the winter solstice, we quietly await the next storm…but we are always awaiting the next snow storm.

One morning, as the rising sun was illuminating the ski school line-up, I approached Keiko, an instructor who I knew was a Japanese Buddhist. I quoted the Buddhist scholar Herbert Guenther: “Existence introduces a static element which is not recognized in Buddhism.” I expected her to pause and to consider the significance of this stunning piece of philosophy. Instead, she simply smiled, and said “yes.”