Chilly mornings, cloudy skies and the telltale creep of snow down the mountains. Can it be too many more sleeps? Is it too early to start waxing?
No day of the year, not birthdays, Christmas, national holidays, nothing, can touch the excitement of opening day at a ski resort. Particularly the one where you live. This one. And this opening day will be more exciting than most. For starters, it'll come early. The Groundhog told me. You know the Groundhog, scruffy fellow, hangs out around Starbucks trying to convince people getting coffee they are only hastening the end of the world. A dedicated acidulated water man, Groundhog chooses to protest Starbucks because he thinks their logo is demonic and their culture moronic. "Venti my ass, man. Not even the Italians will touch that monster," he rails at anyone gauche enough to order coffee by the bucket.
Rational Max knows Tuesday's snow was just a teaser, Mother Nature's peepshow for hardcore snowverts. But all seductions begin with a tease; ignore them at your peril for you know not what you'll miss.
The other reason this year's installment of opening day will be more exciting than usual is, ahem, the Olympics. Since we're likely to be mired in chaos from late January until late March - generally thought of as the heart of the season but perhaps this year known as the heartless season - we'll have to get our licks in early. From the time the rope drops in November until the barricades go up in January we'll have, El Niño willing, a brief 60 days to give 'er and ski down to Creekside without raising our hands, spreading our feet and assuming the position. With so little time and so much snow, we'll be left with scant choice but to ski like there's no tomorrow.
And so, the question is posed: Why not enjoy, if that's the right word, the spectacle that's about to befall our happy mountain home and protest it at the same time? I think any mind sufficiently flexible to embrace eating fruit and nuts in the same mouthful can juggle that juxtaposition.
There's something alluring and magnetic about the Olympics. Like a car wreck on the highway, it's hard not to take a peek. Perhaps the draw stems from a simpler time when we were simpler people and the Olympics was more about sport and less about money, power and politics. When, say, Avery Brundage was president of the IOC and, having been a former Olympian, attended to watch and take part in the festivities without the need to dictate five-star lodging and floor to ceiling televisions, hot and cold running toadies and a bimbo in every pot.