On Her Way

I love the way that Sam says winter. He draws it out and puts the emphasis on the t, on the second half and it almost sounds like there’s a t and a d in the middle … win…ter. He makes the word sound like it’s longer than it really is, which makes sense to me because Sam loves winter and I know that he never wants it to end. He hates summer. Being with him in the summer is agony; he is only biding his time until it snows again and he is set free by the cold and snow, the mountains.

We went to see the new Warren Miller film the other night. It was so great — 69 years of ski filmaking. Warren died last year, but all of the enthusiasm lives on. The auditorium was packed. The event, in Saratoga Springs, was sponsored by the Alpine Shop. Those folks have been selling skis in Saratoga since 1941. Jack Hay, who owns the shop was there and it was so great to see him. He knows my brothers: one worked in the shop, the other raced at Gore Mountain, nearby. We all grew up going to the Alpine Shop every winter, picking out what we wanted for Christmas, dreaming of another season on the hill. Sam comes by it honestly.

I sent a message to my friend, Dave Ransom, earlier today, about signing on to give a service or two at the Mt. Mansfield Chapel at Stowe this winter. You ski to the chapel there, take off your equipment and go inside in your boots for a short service. Everyone is happy, everyone has been on the hill all day. We talk about where we’re from, how we came to be skiing at Stowe, what faith tradition we come from, then we say a few prayers together and head back out for the last runs of the day. Bliss.

It gets in your blood and bones, you know, the mountains and skiing, winter. There really is no other sport, is there? where you have this whole culture of people who participate together, who chat on the lift and in the lodge, who get excited when it starts to get colder outside. Is there any other sport with entire communities devoted to its existence? I can’t think of one.

Skiing’s good stuff and I’m glad our dad showed us the way. It certainly makes the very long Vermont winters more palpable. It’s been so great to see how the new generation has taken it and made it their own: Sam with his freestyle life in Tahoe; Nate backcountrying in Montana; Lars up there in Alaska, where they ski down and then take an old school bus back to the top; Dylan just getting going and loving it in California.

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We went to New York, just for a quick visit. I had never seen the windows at Saks and Bergdorf like that: covered up for the great unveiling next week. I got to chat with the men putting the lights on the trees at Rockefeller Center. I asked them where The tree was coming from: upstate New York … tomorrow! There were lots of ice skaters on the rink, there and at Wollman. It was warm and sunny in New York yesterday, but you could feel Miss Winter making her way down the avenues, stealing in between the taxi cabs, smuggled in in the lining of the coats of the Norwegian tourists.

I will be heading west soon, to see about some winter sons there, to smell those tall pines and to share in some sacrificial turkey and cranberry sauce. It is rumored there will be 13 stray college students at the table this year. Heaven.

I am reading Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Winter. It’s so very good.

Win … ter. Here she comes.


I was at the thrift shop in Dorset the other day and when Coco and I left and began walking to the car I realized I had lost my key. I’m terribly disorganized that way. I carry just one key, no fob, no purse or bag, and so most of the time I stuff it in a pocket—this time, the breast pocket of my corduroy shirt. In the thrift shop I was bending down a lot to look at the curious things on the lower shelves and trying things on, so of course it fell out somewhere.

We mounted a little campaign, asking everyone to help us look as they shopped. People were quite concerned, as was I, given that I don’t have a spare key. We all looked all over the place. Eventually I gave up and called my mother for a ride home.

Here’s what happened: one stranger asked me if she could give me a ride anywhere. One of the shop owners offered me her spare car and another person asked if I needed to use her cell phone to call anyone (mine was in the locked car).

Truly, it was practically worth the half hour of stress looking for the damn key just to experience that incredible generosity. Right before Mom arrived someone found the key in the coat section, where I had, indeed, spent a fair amount of time contemplating whether or not I needed a shearling Carhartt coat (I didn’t).

Key found, car opened, Mom intercepted. Though it grows chillier and darker with each passing day, there is much to be grateful for here in our kind and hospitable Vermont homeland.

Win …ter. She’s on her way. Bundle up. Amen.