Vail Valley Voices: Another season passes |

Vail Valley Voices: Another season passes

Warren Miller
Vail, CO Colorado

Spring comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or is it comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion?

Whichever it is, I still wonder where all of the white goes when winter goes.

I have watched 86 spring seasons come and go, and no one has ever been able to tell me which way it will end as I see the dirt creeping up from the valley below. The only thing I do know is that with the huge snowfall we’ve had, before spring shows up this year a lot of snow will have to melt. It is not happening at the altitude we live. It has snowed from 1 to 6 inches every day for the last who knows how many days. It just keeps on snowing and not melting and snowing and not melting.

While it continues to snow nonstop, Laurie and her great helper, Linda, are packing up our stuff for our annual spring trek down to sea level.

Sea level for us is on a small island north of Seattle where we have a second house that is exactly the same as our house here at the club in Montana. The only difference is that instead of a ski run right outside of our house on Orcas Island we have a dock less than 50 feet from our house at high tide. However, everything else is exactly the same as Montana. And that includes the interior decor, wood finishes, the floor plan and the furniture.

Laurie did such a good job on planning the first house on Orcas that when it came time to build our ski house, we couldn’t figure out anything to change, so we eliminated the architectural fee and used the same set of plans. Why not? I don’t get lost in the middle of the night looking for the bathroom. My wife says this is a real plus!

Laurie and my offices are even in the same place, size and layout. It makes it easier for me to work on my autobiography and integrate some of the over 1,000 newspaper and magazine columns that I have written in the last 15 or 20 years, plus all the myriad of other projects I get myself embroiled in.

Right now I am really excited because I am working on my biography. That is the good news. The bad news is that I have led such a convoluted, travel-filled life. And meeting so many wonderful people in my travels and learning their stories that I have documented them in a permanent resting place in my autobiography.

The real problem is how you dwell lightly on some of the things that happened along the way.

Things such as getting sunk in a typhoon on the way to Pearl Harbor to get our ship modified as a shallow water mine sweep to invade Tokyo, or when I made it as a walk-on for the USC varsity basketball team. I got to wear the varsity uniform for a few games but just before a two-week road trip where I would have sat on the bench most of the time, I went skiing. When I got back, I had a great time playing on the junior varsity for the rest of the season.

What happens when you write about an event in your life is that everything that happened on either side of the event unfolds as though you are unwrapping part of your life you had forgotten all about. I strongly recommend that everyone write their own bio and they will discover why their life turned right instead of left at a critical time. It is really enjoyable but I will be the first to tell you that it is a lot of hard work also. It is great to relive the memories of surfing at Malibu even though it turned out to be the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The water was crystal clear in those days, and I was the only person there that day, and I had the small knee-high waves all to myself all day long. This was many years before the invention of the wetsuit, and I didn’t know that I was supposed to be cold, and my redwood surfboard weighed almost 100 pounds and was 11 feet long. I didn’t find out until later on the car radio, on the way home, what had happened … and how the world had changed forever.

I have a co-writer named Morten Lund who is doing a lot of the work, and we are almost two years into the project and have only covered the first 22 years of my life of fun and games.

People always ask me what I am calling the book. How about “Accidentally Warren” for a title? It will probably change a dozen times before we are done, but, in the meantime, it is still snowing outside and it looks as if this spring is going to come in like a lion and go out the same way.

The chairlift will shut down the day after Easter even if the snow is 19 feet deep under the chairlifts, which, by the way, have shut down every Monday after Easter since they were invented in a railroad yard in Omaha, Neb., in 1936. So I guess we have to get used to putting your skis away Easter Sunday night unless you want to climb to make turns.

Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to more than 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff, log on to

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