Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Crime of Passion

I am quite certain that I committed a crime on Saturday. 

Friday's massive storm on the East coast was but the latest in global extremes. We no longer have little events and minor consequences. The worst has been replaced by something much more frightening. And so, as Massachusetts braced for mountains of snow,  the mountains were told no one would be arriving. The entire state was now in a state of emergency lock down. As of 4 PM Friday, travel was verboten.

You have to understand that we skiers of the East, especially those of us who traverse the small hills in southern New England  do not wait to ski until there are powder days. If we did, our skis would be in pristine condition and we could count our days on the slopes on the digits of 3 Finger Mordecai Brown's damaged hand, with a digit or 2 to spare most winters.

As the storm descended, there were reports that up to 24 inches might fall on the little trails that I call home. While the winds howled and the snow fell in Boston, for much of the day on Friday there was scarce hint of the blizzard in the western part of the state. When I went to bed on Friday night I felt like we were in skier's hell. Little accumulation and a mandate from the governor that we lock the doors and hide under the bed. The combination was almost unbearable.

The first light of Saturday brought proof that we had not been the forgotten child.  A foot or more of soft whiteness had enveloped us. The morning seemed, if not calm, at least a very far cry from what I imagined much of the state had suffered through. The roads were clear and my destination but a few minutes away. Everything now was perfect. Well, almost everything.

For while our mountain, and others in the area, gleefully advised that they were open for business, it appeared that the governor had not gotten that message. Try as I might to find the section on the Department of Transportation website that opened travel of the roads to those who really had to go skiing on a powder day,  that elusive clause escaped my view.  The television reports, the phone calls to the State, nothing seemed to correct this clear omission. All I kept hearing and seeing was that travel at your own peril now had a much more sinister meaning.

I am not a risk taker by nature. I have not lived my life anywhere near the edge for fear I might fall over. Jaywalking is about as far as I will peer into the abyss. But this was different. Unlike the postman (or at least the postman until this latest $16 billion hole) rain and sleet could keep me from my appointed rounds at the quad, but not snow. Not this much snow. No edict, mandate, warning, threat, no governor and hopefully no policeman would stand between me and the top of the hill, peering down on my destiny.

My car was readied, the equipment packed. The roads were literally empty. Not a creature was stirring, or if they were, not here, not now. No policeman in sight. I traveled the few miles to the waiting ski nirvana anxious that I might be turned back to the world of the damned. But, all was quiet and my journey was quick and painless. As I entered the resort, I expected to see many others who had braved the elements and maybe evaded the law, hoping to create a new page in their ski reality. Instead, the parking lot was almost empty.  The meaning of the moment now dawned upon me. Fresh snow and no crowds, as the commercial advises, priceless.

The mountain looked glorious, dressed up in her finest white from head to toe. I wanted to be her first suitor, but there were a few others who found themselves at her doorstep before me. Once on the hill, all did not go as  smoothly as  envisioned. At least at first. But, after an inglorious fall within the first few turns, I settled down and listened to the somewhat unique sounds of nothing under my feet throughout the day. Skiing in silence, while a given in the western regions of this country, is a seldom unheard luxury here. While my form may not have been elegant or pretty, that mattered not. Snow sprayed around me, and while none reached my face like in those iconic images from all those ski videos, at least in my mind I was ripping it up. At least a little.

For brief moments, my skis disappeared from sight,covered in a blanket of white. And it was then, when there was no noise and it seemed I was being carried down the hill by will rather than 166 centimeters underneath each foot, that I floated above the reality of the laws of physics.

There were small clouds in this silver lining. The winds did increase in intensity through the day and one of the lifts was shut down by late morning due to the dangers this created. And some of the snow that had fallen swirled from its resting place on the trails, carried into the trees or distant plains. And yes it was cold, sometimes even a little more than cold. And oh by the way, it appeared that I might have violated several statutes of the Commonwealth.

But still, it was a glorious day. When it was over I knew this was not a scene that would repeat itself soon, if ever. When tomorrow arrived, so did the hordes, those thousands who unlike me had not had the good fortune to be able to enjoy the wonders of a powder day in Massachusetts. The pristine sanctity had been replaced by a sea of colors and noises, lift lines and very different karma.

So, while I now may be but one of many who have broken the laws of this state, I am one of a precious few who has ever enjoyed a day like this on these slopes. For my crime,  I plead guilty to having a ski day I will not soon forget.


Anonymous said...

We are so happy to hear that you are okay,,,more than ok it seems what with all that snow.
The mountains with fresh snow, are always glorious. And no crowds, that make it priceless.

mickey said...

as a fellow felon, I couldn't have been happier!