First real snow of winter — always a big event in the skier’s life.
Throughout the years, I’d celebrated the new white landscape by taking a quiet walk. Leaving a fresh tread, sometimes with glowing autumn leaves photoluminesing the interior of my footprints like the ground was wired for light. I’d ski, too.
We had a child. He took to skiing. More, actually. The boy loved skiing; his life dance.
Once, when the youngster was eight years old, first snow came in the early evening dark. We’d eaten a quiet dinner. I’d seen clouds earlier, so I took a hopeful glance out the curtains.
Sure thing, large wet pancake snowflakes were lofting down, nesting on the fundament like so many tiny halibut.
“Let’s go check this out!”
Out our front door a street lamp glowed a circle of white plastered asphalt. Standing underneath, you could tilt your head back and gaze though a cone of swirling illuminated flakes. They were scifi brilliant — popping out of the inky dark above the light and leaving tails like so many comets. A swirling riot of yellow white on black, as when the spaceship busts to warp speed and the stars blast by leaving after-trails as arcing embers.
Under the light, with our necks kinked skyward, we danced a circle to the slow rhythm of nature. The big wet sloppy flakes whacked our cheeks and fell softly on greedy tongues. A damp, earthy scent rose from the still warm street, like it was raining, only colder. The occasional car passed by, quietly crunching their tires on a good inch of white.
Laughing and smiling like two kids instead of one, we returned inside. Without a word between us, we knew only one thing mattered for the next day.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.