There's an eerie calm settling over Dodge, a stillness not entirely unlike the low-pressure stillness that blankets an area like a damp cloak just before a destructive summer storm barrels through. You can hear the silence, or at least you could if they'd turn off the damn power rakes long enough to let you.
For the first time in, well, years, Whistler is not getting ready for something. We've been getting ready for the Olympics for... ever. We've been cleaning up after them since the last gobsmacked Smurf finally hung his jacket in the nostalgia closet and started pounding Prozac to hump himself over his post-partum depression. The World Ski and Snowboard Festival is over, Whistler Mountain is closed for the season, Blackcomb limps along, hoping either spring will come or these stubborn vestiges of last winter will unleash one more unholy dump of sticky powder on its alpine. And the little resort municipality that could tries to remember how things were done before it was sideswiped by the five-ring circus.
We're struggling with what Ram Dass kept trying to teach us to do: be here now! Living in the moment is hard. If you don't think so and if you want to wallow a bit more in Olympic memories - it's okay, you'll get over it eventually - think back to the start gate of any of the men's alpine events.
Athletes work diligently to control their emotions, clear their minds and, particularly in the start gate, live entirely in the moment. In other words, be here now. Watching the Canadian men in the start gate was a bit like watching Mexican jumping beans on a hot sidewalk. For the most part - and this is in no way an indictment; hell, they're only human and young humans to boot - they looked like they were about to jump out of their speedsuits, they were so wound up. Manny, who usually looks so cool in the start gate you almost wonder if he's still awake, looked like he was about to turn himself inside out.
Being here, now, ain't easy. If you think it is, and you haven't had the chance to stand at the top of an Olympic course during the Olympics, maybe you can remember where your head was at - assuming it was still attached to your neck - the first time you were about to have sex. QED.
But the here and now is what we have, at least for the time being. Oh sure, we're "getting ready" for summer season, we're totting up the costs - at least the ones we'll admit to - of the Olympics, and those of us who have been hanging on until after the Games to launch our escape plan are wondering whether now's the time to pull the pin or whether we should hang on a little longer, opting for the devil we know rather than that stranger with a pitchfork.