I grew up in Great Falls, Montana. Great Falls sits on the banks of the Missouri River in the high plains of Central Montana, nestled near the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. Between the plains, the edge of the mountains and the Chinook winds (Chinook means "eater" or "snow eater") I often did not have white Christmases. A lack of snow is hard to believe considering Great Falls averages 50 inches a year of snowfall. Nevertheless, Great Falls could be as barren as a brick on Christmas Day.
Christmas 2013 will be different.
Not only has Big Sky had snow for about a month now, but it has had a lot of snow. Christmas in Big Sky is not going to be like Irving Berlin's White Christmas, where it doesn't snow in Vermont until Christmas Eve. Christmas in Big Sky is not going to be like a Caribbean Cruise, where it may be warm, but the only skiing that could possibly happen is behind a boat. Christmas in Big Sky is going to be epic-with white flakes floating softly to the ground, evergreens covered in snow, with the historical Huntley Lodge surrounded by Christmas lights like the night sky, and with a fresh turn or two to break in those new skis. Big Sky Resort offers a white Christmas for everyone, and I couldn't be happier.
Photo by Jen Rook.
Part of me feels unoriginal and predictable in writing about things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. However, I actually do have a lot to be thankful for and why not take at least one day a year to write those things down. I am thankful for:
1) Opening Day! Today is opening day at Big Sky Resort. Get out there and ride with us.
2) Snow. Perhaps snow should be first on the list, as one can't have an opening day at a ski resort without it, but I am so thankful we are open for skiing once again. I have a pen pal in Fortaleza, Brazil, who has never seen snow. It is so hard for me to imagine her life-a life without snow. I see and play in snow every winter, and have a job thanks to snow, yet I am always surprised by it and thankful for it.
Photo: Ryan Day Thompson
3) My family. They are always ready with a good joke after I've had a rough day.
4) My Big Sky Resort family. Not only do I have an amazing job, but I have great teammates and managers. The managers at Big Sky Resort truly care about where I am headed in my job position and in my career. This isn't something that happens everywhere and it is easy to take for granted so I am thankful for this great team at Big Sky Resort.
5) Skiing. Enough said.
6) Big Sky Resort purchasing Moonlight Basin. I can't wait to ski Moonlight Basin all the time this winter. I respect and thank all those involved in the merger who have a vision for Lone Peak and the Big Sky Community.
7) A sense of humor. This can really help an office and a small resort community when stress is high. Something as little as a team member pranking every team member in the office with a plastic cockroach. Of course if we had cockroaches in Montana it might be a different story.
8) The lack of cockroaches in Montana.
9) Montana Wildlife. Even in winter you might see a Big Horn Sheep or a Pine Marten.
10) Pumpkin Pie (with a dollop of Cool Whip).
I have much more to be thankful for, but enough writing, it's time to give thanks out on the mountain.
"Winter is Coming" is the slogan of HBO's Game of Thrones. It is the motto of one of the families on the show (and in the novels) and is the name of the first episode of the first season. Game of Thrones uses the slogan not just because the season of winter overwhelms characters and plot, but also because it is a metaphor for the coming evil and darkness upon the land. How they couldn't be more wrong. Here are a few photo glimpses into the brightness and joy of winter at Big Sky Resort:
30 days or one month or 720 hours. No matter how you break it down these are the facts that are between Big Sky Resort and the first day of skiing. Ski season is just moments away and just a few snowflakes away. I am writing to you as the snow falls outside my window here at Big Sky. The flakes are not huge, but are steady-hiding the view of Lone Peak and covering the ground with a sense of renewal. Falling 2-9 miles an hour, snowflakes are cruising down to earth for being so light and fluffy.
From an early age everyone learns that each snowflake is different than the one that fell before it. This is used as a metaphor for the uniqueness of each human life and to show the complexity of nature. The uniqueness of snow and snowflakes extend to its significance to mountain living and to ecosystems around the world. More than 180 billion molecules of water make up each snowflake and roughly 12 percent of the earth is covered in snow year round. As much as I love snow, I'm grateful for the annual spring run-off for a number of selfish reasons, but also because snowfall accounts for 70 percent of annual precipitation in the United States. Winter and snow mean more to me than being able to enjoy yet another powder day on Yellow Mule or to cozy up fireside with a book and a latte, it means life continues to exist wherever snow reaches. From the Gulf of Mexico to upstate New York, snow affects human life as it accumulates on our mountaintops and melts into our rivers. I find this comforting and beautiful. Snow is something I long for as an individual adventure seeker, and as a human being who is a part of mother earth.
I want to take time today to be thankful for the flakes that are falling. The beauty in a complex, yet simple-looking snowflake never ceases to amaze me.
"At first look it all seems like a geologic chaos, but there is method at work here, method of a fanatic order and perseverance: each groove in the rock leads to a natural channel of some kind, every channel to a ditch and gulch and ravine, each larger waterway to a canyon bottom or broad wash leading in turn to the Colorado River and the sea." -Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
So there I am standing in line behind a 6-year-old girl waiting my turn to get on the bungee trampolines in the Mountain Village Plaza at Big Sky Resort. She and I watch an 8-year-old boy attempting a flip and a 3-year-old girl bouncing as she giggles looking at her parents, both of them have ear-to-ear grins on their faces. Well, here I go a 40-something year old woman about to find her inner child.
Barefoot I climb onto the trampoline. The Basecamp bungee trampoline guide connects two bungee cords to my harness, I look over at the 6-year-oild girl and she already has it figured out- jumping and laughing on the twin trampoline next to mine. The guide explains some how-to's for jumping, she steps off, and tells me to have fun.
I start off a little on the shy side- I haven't done this in a while and I make some baby jumps at first. I put some more leg into it and it's like an instantaneous transformation...
BAM... my fearless inner 6-year-old comes out and I'm using those bungees to launch me in the air, bouncing higher and higher. I can't stop laughing and smiling and feeling free. As I rocket again in the air I start singing out loud "sky rockets in flight... [insert sound effect]... afternoon delight" by the Starland Vocal Band (yes, I had to Google it). Now I hear my guide laughing and yelling to me to do a flip. Woo Hoo- I'm six again! Ahh yeah I can do flips- watch this! My first attempt at a flip brought me back to the reality of my adult form. Not as easy and nor as graceful as I pictured in my head.
I fly up again, my inner 6-year-old tells me I can do it. Using what little abs strength I have I throw a backward flip. Yeehaw! I did it!! Now I'm trying to jump even higher, the bungee cords stretching to heights of 30-feet. I do another flip and another. My inner 6-year-old is roaring, I'm laughing, and the crowd of parents are cheering me on. Then my 40-something year old body pipes up. This is on heck of a workout. I'm using all my core muscles. I become breathless and my legs are tiring. Of course my brain interjects on my body's behalf, "time to let the other kids have a turn." So I slow my jumping to a stop, dismount and slap a high five with a 3-year-old boy waiting in line.
As I walk across the plaza, my inner 6-year-old girl skipping in my heart, with an ear-to-ear grin on my face.
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