Waxing Poetic and the Curse of Pre-Season Wet Dreams

I’m on the verge of a massive climax.

Yea, I’m about to make a cliché, sexual innuendo about winter and more specifically, skiing, but the anticipation of the coming season feels eerily similar to sexual frustration, and therefore, cliché appropriate. Each fall, I get as jittery as a teenage boy beneath the sheets with his girlfriend right before doing the deed for the very first time. The anticipation, no, the downright explosive, boiling over of excitement for snowfall has built up for months. By this time, we’ve been seduced with a cornucopia of touring powder porn come and gone from our local movie screens, we’re four issues deep into the yearly ski magazine run, and a season pass is already hanging from my neck like ski-town bling. Winter is naked and ready to roll around in the hay with me – the ultimate tease, and I can’t take it any longer.

Like that teenage boy, I’m having feverish dreams, tossing about in bed, drenched with sweat. They say teen males riding a river of hormones think about sex every seven seconds. Well, I’ve been thinking about my skis an equal number of times. Hell, I’d probably be arrested if anyone knew what those thoughts entailed, or how I stroke them every night before going to sleep. It’s a symptom of serious snow withdrawal, and while I’ve never been one to wax poetic about it like the plethora of sorry, Midwestern skiers writing letters to Powder Magazine detailing how their photos and articles are getting them through a hot summer, this year, it’s happened to me. And I’m compelled to put fingers to keyboard about the experience, because if hardship and world-weariness are requirements to become a good writer, then I ought to be a damn poet laureate of the ski world (so… how am I doing so far?)

Ski Dreams inks

The blame for my condition lies with the summer of 2013. It was hot, fugly hot. July was officially record breaking as Salt Lake City suffered its warmest month ever. Rather than grin and bear it like I always have, this year my powder-starved mind uncontrollably created images of skiing that percolated up to my cerebral cortex or whatever section of the brain that controls vivid ski dreams. In one such reality-of-the-mind instance, I was floating down a steep slope like a weightless leaf, slicing through a layer-cake of snow. The mountain was nameless. The trees and landscape were indistinct. I was skiing, but boots, poles, goggles, and even skis were mere background elements. Only the feeling, the motion of weighting and unweighting my feet in a dance with living snow, was present. The funny thing is, this dream happened when I was awake.

Ski mirages would occur at random times, triggered by simple body motions. For example, after a sweltering couple hours mowing my lawn in triple-digit-degree Hades, I grabbed a cold beer from the fridge. But the moment I brought the sweating can to my mouth, the beer transformed into a ski pole handle, and my arm went back down as the pole plunged into a morass of nipple-deep powder as dry as dust. Another time, the act of walking down the stairs to a dark basement suddenly threw me into a mirage of sunny slopes. I could feel my feet lean into sharp ski edges biting into a fast hard pack, instead of softly padding over dirty carpet.

My only explanation for these hallucinations is that I’m suffering from ghost pain. Like a severed limb that is taken away so suddenly and violently that the brain still thinks it’s there, my mind has rejected the notion that skiing was cut off entirely. After the best ski season of my life, where nearly every day meant buckling up ski boots, clicking into tech bindings, and touring Utah’s mountains in a feverish effort that turned backcountry skiing into a flipping lifestyle, that hard ending, like a sword hacking off a leg without warning, made my ski-accustomed mind reject the notion and live on in a dream state of denial.

Even my poor dogs are not immune. As they suffered the heat sleeping on a cool, tile floor, I swear they had dreams of dolphining through a foot of virgin snow as their legs kicked and twitched uncontrollably in sync with sorry little whimpers. They are powder whores every bit as much as their master.

Of course we invent warm-weather activities to tide us over until next winter. Mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running, fly fishing and hiking (also known as training for a season full of skin-track ascents) distract us. But this year, fat-tire medicine and backpacking bandages did little to heal my wounds. The dreams kept on, like an internal ski movie that replays highlights from last season, over and over again. My bed becomes a sensory deprivation chamber where a free-floating mind easily crosses the threshold like a glassy wave, crashing into La Sal Mountain snowfields that float above a red desert, or skimming along tendrils of ski tracks being filled in beneath the deafening quiet of fat flakes glistening down through an aspen forest in the Bear River Range.

My kitchen table becomes rough-hewn. The gas stove now wood-burning iron. A house transforms into a yurt, and the front door opens not onto a beige, dying lawn, but north-facing powder fields. Ah, damn. There I go waxing poetic again.

And now, on the eve of a new ski season when my dreams have reached a crescendo full of promise and high hopes, I’m fighting to contain myself. That damn teasing, barely-legal girlfriend is undressed, ready and willing, and I’m rearing to dive in with an explosion of white.

But it’s not quite time yet, and all I can do to relieve myself is watch another ski porn, check out the centerfold in Powder Magazine, and take a cold shower.

 

 

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