My green Subaru Outback, like my daughter, will be turning 10 this spring. We have spent an unusual amount of time warming up in her this winter season as we are a ski family. She has also become our ski lodge for boot changing and eating lunch and drinking hot cocoa. First, let me be clear, I am so grateful to have a ski season in a world where many are seemingly trapped at home with little family recreational opportunities to access without having to quarantine first or be COVID tested prior to leaving and returning home. Our home mountain, Loon, has an awesome tagline this year posted everywhere which reads, “Be the Reason We Have a Season,” and, well, we love it. Our local rope tow, the Kanc Recreation Area, has also been amazing this season, and we are grateful they have opened for our community this winter.
For our family, skiing is life in many ways, and not being able to warm up in lodges has certainly not changed our love for the sport. It certainly does make warming up harder, and sometimes I forget my one ski boot, which is annoying. I drive to the mountain with my left ski boot on thereby making the transition from driver to skier a little easier. This only backfired on me the one time I also tried to squeeze in a trip to the dump on the way to the hill, slipped on the ice, and wiped out in front of a few folks who must have wondered about my footwear. But using one’s car as one’s portable ski lodge has enabled me to really view the bright side of the pandemic ski season in many ways. The things I’ve seen from the parking lot are varied, amusing, annoying, and mostly just entertaining.
I like to think I try to do my part to help the mountain management where I can. Like there was the day I walked back to my car and passed a family of seven all carrying sleds toward the slopes. I kindly stopped them to share that sledding was not permitted. The father figure was like, “Yes, but we got here too late to ski, so we figures this would be fun.”
There was also the day I was trying to grade papers in the front seat using my phone as a hot spot and the boys, young men actually, at least 5 of them in a compact vehicle next to me was pumping enough base to shake the car. Or maybe that was just them trying to unbuckle their boots while in the car?? Hard to say during a pandemic ski season.
Then there was the day we were eating lunch, my 9 and 11 year old fighting over the front seat for better access to the heat so that I got in the back seat giving up the argument. “Be the Reason We Have a Season,” I chanted to myself repeatedly with my ski boots on, burning my tongue on my too hot thermosed lunch. But mostly our lunches in the car at Loon or warming up while at a race at another mountain have been cherished extra chat time together with my kiddos. We debrief what we saw on the hill– this year an abnormal amount of one piece snowsuits on young and old alike– the man arguing with the lift attendant about why he wasn’t wearing a mask–idiot, we collectively agreed– my epic fall on our snow day– skiing with our former principal and his wife– fewer parents late to pick up their kids because they aren’t up at the bar losing track of time. We play the “I spy Daddy” game with where we may have crossed paths with him training other people or teaching a lesson on the magic carpet.
We share our envy over other people’s super fly ski lodge set ups like the tents in the backs of pick up trucks or this awesome piece of construction above. Legend has it that a woman’s father built this for her family and presented it on Christmas morning. Or, at least this is what I overhead in the parking lot when we were at Cannon recently for a ski race! There are people with mats and special stools they got for this season specifically to aid in putting their boots on. There is tailgating and grilling and coolers being shared among different families, some social distancing more than others– but all of them grateful to have a ski season at all.
Be the reason we had a season. Coming up on a year anniversary when the world shut down, when our mountains closed, when they were still loaded with snow, when our kids were not ready to say good bye to ski season, when they didn’t really believe we would spend the next six months primarily on our own property, when we could not even imagine a remote, virtual, less than in person lifestyle. And here are we are February 2021 thankful for all the reasons we could have a season– thank you to the cleaners and mechanics and snowmakers and groomers and mountain hosts and parking lot attendants and ticket sellers and administrators and food service workers and outside bartenders and ski school employees and responsible customers who visit and continue to RESPECT all the reasons we can have a season.