Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Transition Time

Well, it went fast -- and I suddenly find myself making the transition from skier to writer.

When one skis all winter and writes all summer, there's nothing unusual about transitions happening at the shoulder seasons. And, since I actually keep writing throughout the winter these days, it's not even a complete changeover.

This year's shift, however, is more pronounced than usual. Because -- without warning -- winter just stopped this year. No warning; that was just it. There we were enjoying great snow and weather, when all of a sudden 7 consecutive days of temperatures in the 70s ended everything. I'm not saying we didn't enjoy skiing in t-shirts for a week, but I am pretty sure there isn't an eastern skier who wouldn't trade last week for another month of turns.

Still, it was a great winter. Despite a lower-than-average snowfall, the skiing was pretty darn good. Then we had that epic 3-foot dump in late February that set us up through March, opened the backcountry, and provided an exclamation mark on 2011-2012. My winter had several other highlights: attending PSIA's race camp at Whiteface (the Olympic mountain!), the opportunity to improve my skiing with video at Stowe, and my successful DCL team tryout at Mount Snow definitely make the list.

No doubt, however, when we think back on this winter, we'll remember the big storm and the quick ending. And I will be shifting just as quickly from my ski gear to my writing desk. Editors... feel free to start calling!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meet My Town

Ali and I have had a problem lately; we were out of maple syrup. It happened about two weeks ago when I made French toast for breakfast. I had some good bakery bread, and I soaked the heck out of it in eggs and milk. I wanted -- understandably, I'm sure you will agree -- to drown it in real Vermont maple syrup, but there really wasn't much syrup in the house.

I did find some; I used some syrup from a tiny container that nobody has wanted to throw away because it came as a favor from Nick and Michelle at their wedding 5 years ago and has therefore been sitting on the refrigerator shelf among the various salad dressings. There was a little leftover syrup from our "serving container," and there were the dregs of the gallon-sized "storage" container. I dribbled the remainder of those and then went out to the living room where I knew we had plenty more.

It was the container Alison received as the prize for finishing 2nd in her age group at the Vermont 50K trail race. This prize was well-earned, but she didn't even know she had placed at the time, so she skipped the awards ceremony. It wasn't until later that someone informed her of her podium finish, and she decided to write the race organizers to see if she could claim her prize. It has since rested in a prominent location in the living room for all to admire. Was that a syrup stash I could really tap into?

I decided no, and I have been on the lookout for roadside maple syrup stands for the last two weeks. Finally today, I was driving past the Cochran's Family Ski Area. I had heard they were making syrup, so I pulled in. Not much going on a Cochran's with the recent warm weather, I'm sorry to report. There was nobody around, and their slopes looked pretty bleak. Through the woods, however, I could see their sugar shack -- with smoke coming out.

I exited the parking area and drove back up Cochran Road to the sugar house. Inside were several people -- among them Marilyn Cochran, Doug Cochran, and Tim Cochran. They said their cousin was in Europe, racing in what hopefully wouldn't be his final World Cup ski race (I guess he hasn't had the best racing season this year) and their other cousin was in Montana racing for UVM in the NCAA championships. Meanwhile, yes, they were boiling sap in the boiler (they let me sample today's syrup) and they sold me some that was made last week.

On my way home, I passed the Richmond's Round Church and the Bakery where they hold open mikes and other musical events. It's a nice town, Richmond. You should come visit sometime.

Photo below: Every day is like Christmas in Richmond, with our half-painted Bridge Street bridge.