The calendar says it’s spring. The creeping sunlight early in the morning and lingering alpenglow late in the evening say it’s spring. The rapidly looming World Ski and Snowboard Festival says it’s spring. Zippy the Dog, who wants nothing so badly as to sit atop the melting snowbank outside says it’s spring and if I don’t take him for a run, well, shame on me.
So why does it feel like one massive April Fools joke?
Most likely it has to do with the skiing. The skiing — and, of course, riding — says it’s still winter. Okay, not the in-your-face-and-up-your-nose winter of January, the days of endless powder January that threatened to break the snowfall record set only a year ago. Yeah, there’s a little suncrust in the morning and enhanced patio drinkin’ opportunities in the aprèsnoon to hint at the spring to come but up high, in the bowls, on the other side of the ropes and especially in the shady trees and, well, pretty much the entire rest of British Columbia, winter still rules the day.
It must have come as quite a shock to Cro-Magnon Whistlerites 20,000 years ago to wake up and discover the most recent glacial advance was headed down the valley. The Ice Age cometh.
I mean, let’s just think about it a minute. Here they are, minding their own business, spending most of their time chasing after mastodons, wielding outrageous slings and arrows, all so they can have warm coats, juicy burgers and ribs, and some way cool parabolic tusks to snag a few runs on the mountain when time permits. Life flows in endless cycles. Chase the mastodon, ski the mountains, spear a few fish in the summer, a little mountain biking for good measure, then WHAM. Just when they thought it would always be such and winter couldn’t get longer, it does.
I’m wondering, did it start so innocuously they didn’t even notice it? Say with a monster snow season and endless snow in a March so memorable it deserved a name? Big pow days in April, stretching into May? How long did it take Neolithic Whistlerites to realize this wasn’t just an unusual season and that they’d better get their sorry butts further south before they became the Lost Tribe, frozen in time?
It would be easy to dismiss the current winter we’re having as just a random blip on the radar screen of the most recent, receding ice age. Easier still if last winter hadn’t been so massive as well. After all, our best and brightest scientists tell us numbers don’t lie — the Earth’s heating up, the glaciers are still shrinking, the polar ice caps are melting, and if we keep consuming at the pace we’ve become accustomed to, Whistler will be oceanfront property in our great grandchildren’s lifetimes and Vancouver will be a coral reef somewhere offshore. As though I needed another good reason to crank up the heat and leave the fridge door open. Ooh-whee baby. Surf’s up.