I consume quite a bit of ski media. Coffee table books, magazines, videos, Instagram posts, even Tik Toks all beam the eudaemonic effects of powder snow into my brain at probably an unhealthy rate. As I currently pick gingerly through variable conditions here at home, I unsuccessfully quash jealousy at those riders across the globe blessed with epic storms and excellent stability. Ever an optimist, one who still revels in the subtle pleasures of a scratchy groomer, even I am feeling the pangs of the low tide blues.
The despair over the dearth of snow is of scant import in the grand scheme, a luxury to even contemplate. Yet, by coinciding with a less than auspicious beginning to the year, the lack of flakes seems an ominous portent. The tendency toward despair, clinical or otherwise, should not be underestimated. Especially since many of us rely overheavy on the release of powder days for our mental health.
Just as my spirits were starting to wane, I lucked into a sleeper pow day, scoring untouched lines as the surface hoar sparkled in the early morning sunshine in an orchidaceous display of skiing’s promise. The morning should have been a catalyst, a reminder of my good fortune, a refreshing of the imperative to not take life for granted. Those thoughts were present, acknowledged, but I still could not shake the melancholy that surrounded my heart.
It was disconcerting to not feel completely flooded with joy as I cruised through the fluff. It is hard to remember a time when all worries were not subverted by the magic of soft turns. Part of it was the acute hurt of a recent conflict, part of it was the loss of mountain brethren, but I also realized the immense shadow cast by the events of this challenging era. The psychic cloud of constant toxicity and worry had settled in, stubbornly refusing to blow out.
The weight of this middle-distance period of the pandemic is becoming harder to bear. Positive prognostications exist, give us hope, but still require months and perhaps more of energetic patience, reserves of which are in short supply. Into February without meaningful snowfall, the cycle of hoping and being disappointed is stretching the elastic pretty thin. Doubt is an increasingly familiar companion, a questioning of methods and outlook and sanity.
To recognize, to live with, to parse through, to embrace the doldrums is a precarious endeavor. It is difficult to look over the edge without falling into the abyss; the great balancing act of life. The lethargy, the sadness, the pressure may feel abnormal. You may believe that you are the only one struggling, the only one muddling through. But, you are not alone. You are not even close to alone.
Snow is in the forecast. It would be easy to be cynical, to assume that we will get donut-holed for eternity. But, that is neither productive nor logical. A new administration is in power. Many have already fallen prey to skepticism, either due to ideology or prior disappointments or a mixture thereof. I see that as a self-fulfilling prophecy; without the goodwill of the people, the government will always default to entropy. A new energy must infuse the system, even if contrary to the laws of thermodynamics.
It will snow, the pandemic will end, we will get better, we will learn. We will be in a drought, a new peril will descend, we will make horrid decisions, we will forget. Depressing and hopeful and cyclical and natural. As you stare out the window at the bleak coverage, do not fret. The tide is coming in; it always does.