The clearest way I know how to explain it is to talk about gravity. When I try to talk about that pull I keep coming back to gravity and weightlessness. It’s the rush where you’re just barely in control of the forces of the universe, sensation surging. Where else can you feel that freefall? I know there’s nothing useful or necessary about it, but it’s the closest thing I know to flying. “It sounds hokey, but when I’m skiing everything feels like it’s in balance and synched up,” a friend once told me when I asked him why he’s pegged his life to skiing. “Everything else melts off, everything makes sense, and everything is smooth.”
So does it matter? Is there any value in trying to skip out on one of the major planetary forces, even just for a little? No, of course not. But also of course.
The clearest way to appreciate something is to take it for granted and then have it taken away. And some winters feel like that now. I took skiing, and the grace that comes from it for granted for so long. I thought the rush and connection that comes from throwing myself downhill were a given, and always would be, if my body and my nerve could hold up. But that’s starting to feel naïve now. Which makes skiing feel like it matters more.
This year, storms kept coming in hot and rainy, if they came at all. The pineapple express rolled in from the Pacific while high pressure hung over the Arctic, fizzling precipitation. No one I talked to was having a good winter. Not in Montana, not in Maine.