Weather’s Vagaries

I lay in bed, the sky brightening beyond the curtain, and listened to rain falling gently but persistently on the snow banks outside. I came to terms with the fact that it would not be a ski day, that I’d pack the car and drive home and turn whatever page there is to turn on the season.

Then I realized that what I was hearing was the brook out back, freed from ice, churning over the loose rock that tumbles down the mountain into the flat spots where our rental house is. I felt dumb, but glad.

Much of the last week has been spent contemplating the forecast, triangulating how this first warm spell will affect the snow pack. It is not as simple as warm = bad. Wind steals moisture from the surface, dries things out. The angle of the sun at various times of day can turn things to slush or ice them over. We find ourselves skiing the runs that have more shade, chasing shadows across the mountain.

It’s warm and things are melting, but the real obstacle is the refreeze. When the temperature drops again, everything goes non-granular. It’s all ice. And then we need fresh snow and serious grooming to open the slopes again.

I’ll chase my fortunes further south, hoping the melted-out trails firm up for running. It’s not right to plant deep footprints in mud.

It occurred to me that all the brisk sportsfolk I know have a weather obsession. The surfers talk about ocean energy, wind direction, tides. The trail runners seek firm, dry ground. Cyclists concern themselves with wind and temperature and ice.

Here in New England conditions are highly variable. I try to be a jack-of-all-trades, a skier, a runner, a cyclist, a hiker and explorer, a meteorologist. But the more I guess at what the day will bring, the more I’m wrong, and that just tells me that ideal conditions are accidental and fleeting. Make your best guesses, push back the sheets, drink your coffee, and do what’s in front of you to do.