Monday, February 27, 2006

Endings and beginnings

I wrote a few weeks ago that I was starting to see the night grow a shade paler in the east when I walk the dogs just after 6 a.m. in the morning. Today, I am happy to report that I saw the first hint of color in the eastern sky during my morning walk.

The one thing I don’t like about winter is its few hours of daylight. I look for the increasing light each year with anticipation. With the longer daylight I stop feeling like a vampire. I start seeing birds other than owls. I stop tripping over my feet when I’m walking in the woods—at least occasionally. To me the end of February means the returning of the light. I try not to think that it also means the nearing of the end of winter.

However, the skiers on Roundtop are already anticipating the end of winter and their skiing. Yesterday, for the first time this season, I heard the second most asked question of the year. That question is, “when are you going to close for the season?” The most asked question of this or any year is always “when are you going to open for the season?” The most asked question is usually first heard sometime in August.

I am always surprised at how early in the season, at least from my point of view, this second most asked question first starts to be asked. To me, the end of February still seems no later than mid-winter, so I am always surprised when people ask me to predict the end of their skiing.

Either question is really a pretty ridiculous one to ask so far in advance of the event. I can’t predict when it’s going to get cold enough to start blowing snow anymore than I can predict when we’re no longer going to have enough snow to ski on.

Sometimes I am so tempted just to give people some precise date just to see what they will do.
“So, when are you going to open this year?” someone will ask in early September. “November 31,” I’d say confidently, wondering how long it will take them to realize that November doesn’t have a 31. Will they just say, “cool,” hang up the phone and look for the date on their calendars? Will the answer rattle them enough that the neurons fire and make them realize that expecting an answer to this question in September isn’t rational?

When visitors ask me in late February when we’re going to close for the season, what would happen if I said April 15? Would they believe me and pencil in their next trip to the resort? Some years we’ve had plenty of snow to ski on, and Roundtop still closed because skiers simply stopped coming. They mistakenly assumed that because it was springtime where they were, we couldn’t possibly have any snow left.

In many ways, I am looking forward to the end of the skiing season--I'll like having the extra time off, for one thing. But in another sense, the end of my long hours of work means the winter is soon over, and that isn't something I look forward to.

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