Warren Miller: Every day is Christmas on the mountain
Vail, CO, Colorado
There was a card on the restaurant table last week and I would like to quote from it and see if you understand what it means.
“Steve is a laid back and personal performer whose music is a blend of folk-revivalist-lyricism laced with a hint of rock and roll. Steve will be at the Community Center on December 23th. All ages are welcome and there will be no admission charge, but CDs will be available by optional donation.”
Instead of going to the concert, Laurie and I opted to catch the early ferry to get started on our annual migration to the snow. This is something that has happened every December since I was in the Boy Scouts in 1936.
Each year it has gotten a little more complex as the winter trips have gotten longer. When I was a Boy Scout all I needed for a weekend in the snow was a loaf of bread, a quart of peanut butter, my clothes, a sleeping bag, my toboggan and some paraffin for the bottom of it.
After 73 years, the ski trips are now all winter long and we drag along all of our ski gear with different skis for different snow conditions, ski outfits, hats, gloves, goggles, parkas, after ski boots, ski boots and all of the other assorted stuff that is necessary when you can ski every day.
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In route to Montana, Laurie and I will stop for a few days of skiing at Sun Valley and to see some old friends. Of course, Laurie won’t let me wear the same outfit two nights in a row and I have to take along a couple of dozen cartons of my books for the occasional book signings. (In the old days, I only owned one ski sweater, one anorak, and a very suspect pair of wool gabardine pants that stood on their own in the corner!)
In addition to that, we both have to take our computers, printers, fax machine, bookkeeping materials, and all of the necessary secretarial stuff to run our business from our Montana house until the snow melts in the spring.
I need my art supplies, paper, inks, paints, drawing board, paper cutter, light box, reference books, and before we know it our large trailer is stacked to the roof with stuff. About the only thing we don’t take for the winter is our furniture.
We both rationalize that we are actually moving our home to a ski resort for the next four months. We will ski at least a half a day every day of the week unless I get behind in my writing and drawing, and then I take a day off from skiing and get caught up.
We also take along our three dogs — Buller, Drummond and Angus — but leave the 17 chickens at home.
We have lists of lists of what to take along and the old attitude, “I can’t make up my mind whether I will need it or not so I might as well take it,” seems to be the only way that a person my age can still get to ski over a hundred days every winter.
Yes, every day is Christmas Day when you can ski at an uncrowded ski resort with four quads and a double in powder snow almost every day. But who is bragging? Do I deserve this at 85? I don’t know, but I’m sure loving every minute of my senior years!!
Neither Laurie nor I have yet been able to talk to anyone who understood or could describe Steve’s concert, “featuring a blend of folk-revivalist lyricism laced with a hint of rock and roll.”
Probably, if I tried to define a day of skiing in words to someone who had never experienced it, I would be using words that they might not understand, either. I do have a couple of things however, that I would like to say.
So many Christmases have been wonderful because so many of you people out there have bought tickets to my films for so many years, enabling us to drive to Montana towing a trailer full of stuff to spend the next four months drawing a lot more cartoons and doing a lot of writing.
I will also be finishing up a cartoon book and a series of cartoons illustrating a golf book. I will be cruising about 40,000 or 50,000 vertical feet every day and enjoying every moment of every turn I make. I will be protecting my brains with a crash helmet, whether I like it or not, while I try to create some folk-revivalist lyricism about the scenery of the west.
Have a Merry Christmas and if anyone ever tries to tell you there is no Santa Claus, don’t you believe them. His elves have built every ski lift at every resort I have ever ridden, and he personally designs and delivers every snowflake I have ever seen.
Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff log onto Warren Miller.net. For information about his foundation, The Warren Miller Freedom Foundation, go to http://www.warrenmiller.org.