Snow Gods

If the ground is still not covered by snow in early December, we Vermont skiers reach a breaking point called desperation. The trees, barren and leafless, do nothing to distort our view of the depressingly snowless mountains that tantalize us more with each passing day. Reports of massive snowfalls in the western states drive us to near insanity as we watch our neighbors mow their wilting green lawns. Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump loom dark to the east, white only in our dreams and year-old memories. We’ve already done countless laps around the house in our ski boots, clunking and scraping, heel-to-toe, heel-to-toe. “Get off the hardwood floor with those things!” our mothers yell, but we really can’t help ourselves. We’ve already done a thousand 360’s on the basement floor, fully strapped into our bindings.”Stop jumping around on my nice carpet!” our mothers yell. We’ve put on and taken off our ski goggles and long underwear, sharpened our edges and waxed our bases, but to no avail. “Go outside already!” our mothers yell. “Make it snow, Mom,” we respond, “then we will.” But the gray skies remain flakeless, and skiing in a house is only entertaining for a short while. It is time to take action; we’ll have to make it snow ourselves. Gather the wood and pile it high. Strap up your boots and bring out the gas. If the snow gods don’t hear our prayers, at least they’ll see our fire. Pile on the wood, douse it with gas and light it up. Wow! Should have worn my goggles for that one. Who needs eyebrows though? Right? To spite the gods, no one wears a shirt, barebacked as if to say, “your seasons are weak; force us to dress warmly.” We don’t know whom we are defying, but there is definitely someone, something in the sky that will make it snow if we appeal to it hard enough. We think. Stray branches, with dried needles abounding, are thrown into the flames then raised into the air, wound around in warm rebellion. Sparks fly from the flaming boughs, lighting our faces and giving us the sensation that we are takingpart in an ancient tribal ritual. We feel more connected to the ground that we stand on, but still helpless to the starry sky above. Aztecs sacrificed prisoners of war, ripping out their hearts to appease their divine rulers. For lack of human captives, though, we incinerate a sacrificial 1980s Rossignol straight ski. Someone had pulled the dusty ski, long since forgotten by their father, from the bowels of their garage. We watch as its edges turn red hot and its trademark rooster melts into the coals. Perhaps the offering will ensure that we are skiing powder by winter break. Perhaps.Some hours of primitive chanting later, the fire dies out. Where are our shirts? Our eyes dart around the grass. Flashlights are drawn and the clothing is recovered.”Hey,” someone notices, “it’s actually a little chilly out. Man, I’m going inside to bed, it’s cold.”Sun rays crack through the windows to wake us. We look out to see a thin layer of frost atop an otherwise green lawn. Maybe the snow gods listened. But we can’t ski on frost, and we asked for snow.Gather the wood and pile it high.