TERRANCE GAVAN – SKI GUY, BLOGGER, IDIOT SAVANT
I remember all the nights at Panorama Mountain Village in October, in BC, in fall cum winter where heat from the hot pools spun steam into the air.
We might be sitting in the bar. And chatting, or watching Rick Mercer on the big screen. Dreaming of snow.
The lights would dim.
Then flicker and dim again.
And a cheer would gather in the crowded bar. Some oft concussed rider would hop on the table.
“Rounds for the house! On Me. Roll it to my tab barkeep… and keep ’em comin’!”
What tab this mushy headed backcountry hound once had? Was long gone. He was a fabled rider. In the Bugaboos, the Lizard Range and near Golden and Revelstoke. He was well-intentioned. But only rich in the way most powder hounds are. Which is to say… not very. Of course we are speaking here of richness in the most literal and moribund of terms. Cash poor.
But this fabled rider… we’ll call him Chad… was rich in ways that people at that crowded bar knew.
He rode. Like a fluid devil on the powder, in the trees and in areas where most of us would only dream to ride.
The dimmed lights?
Ah, yes. The brown out was caused by some bleak bleary eyed scudge from snowmaking. And it meant that for the first time. This year.
The compressors had been switched on. We had only to look out the window and see what might that switch has wrought.
For there out on the first quarter mile run… white was dispersing into the hard black night at Panorama.
And we knew… every one of us knew.
That boards and skis would be hauled out this night. I would head down the mountain to my shared accommodations in Invermere this night.
And I would take my dog out to the garage and pull out my skis (three sets) and my boards (one teaching one riding) and I would sit and stare at them, laid out on the grass of this still warm night. A mile below the resort where guns were slowly transforming brown grass to white.
I will be skiing tomorrow at Dagmar. On fresh snow. I will introduce my old Atomics to snow. I will don my new boots. And I will feel for pressure points. Because pressure points can spoil a season before it begins.
Irish feet. Narrow and bunyony. Are loath to find comfort in hard plastic.
I curse my Irish feet when the redness first appears on that spur of bone just below my little toe. It is the one thing I cannot control.
On snow. I can control my turns, my slides, my skittered slam dunks with huge moguls.
But I cannot control my Irish feet. This year… I will avoid laziness in the beginning. I will make sure there is no room for my right foot to chaff against the soft insole.
And maybe just maybe… come May I shall be pain free.
But that doesn’t matter right now.
Right now we are plodding to the garage and loading up the car with skis and boards.
My helmet is sitting on the piano stool.
I played my electric Epiphone last night under cover of The Band and Levon Helm on my Fender magic amp. The Weight is plugged in and I play terrible lead riffs above the G, B C chords that mark the passage of that obsequious tune.
I am happy. Because it is almost time to quit my fall/autumn job… at a hellhole. I am doing tech support for one of our huge Canadian internet and television providers. And I just about ripped my headphones from my ears yesterday.
Why won’t my Fibe TV work?… a woman screamed at me.
I had not the heart to tell her that her account had been shrugged for non-payment. Not my job. Ship her over to collections. She was halfway through her binge watch of Boardwalk Empire the final season.
I wanted to tell her that both Chalkie and Nooky bite the hard bullet in the end.
But that would be cruel.
Maybe she can arrange some payments. And return to watch Nooky staring into the barrel of a gun.
Yesterday, halfway through that screaming call… I was laughing. And…
Wishing at that moment that I could trade places with Nooky.
But that all passed.
Because outside the window sun was glinting off a foot of snow.
And my helmet… was sitting on the piano bench.
And my skis were in the car.