Winter is coming.
Which typically brings with it some serious griping about snow, being cold, and winter in general. People BOND over winter whining. There are entire conversations come mid-October dedicated to how much winter bites (literally and figuratively).
I get it. Why would anyone like winter? It’s cold as balls, for one. Winter in Colorado means snow and snow means a bunch of bulky layers and clunky boots and shoveling and driving amongst the terrified Texan tourists and there is just nothing really amazing that anyone generally associates with winter.
At the risk of throwing off the point of why I’m writing this blog post, I laughed too hard at this and had to include it.
There is nothing great associated with winter – until you live in a mountain town.
I’m a tried-and-true Coloradan. I adore this state (some parts a lot more than others, but who’s comparing?). I love every season here, in large part because they’re all “mostly sunny with chance of _____”. Life is different in the West, and even more different in a mountain town. The first snow is something we hiked up to 12,000 feet to welcome.
We shovel in shorts and slip-on shoes, frozen heels be damned. We’re all secret gearheads, and have 13 too many shells or puffies or Better Sweaters and just got a new one “for Christmas”. We acknowledge each other over the wheel of our Toyota 4WD snowmobiles running snow tires we know way too much about with a wave and a smile. We know our neighbors’ dogs’ names before we’ve met the neighbors.
Now, there is a hardiness that living in a mountain town either creates or brings out in you. Some look at this way of life and write it off. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You make.it.work. to live in a place like this. Moving to a mountain town is not to further your career, or to relocate for a big promotion. It is not to find the affordable house of your dreams. It is not to explore international art, culture, and cuisine, or to fill your pantry with all sorts of wild things from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.
There is something about life in a mountain town that is understood. Think about it – here, there are plenty of people who live in their truck, a camper, or a self-described “shack”. Here, this is accepted and you’re labeled a die-hard and thrifty local. Anywhere other than a mountain town, you’re just homeless. Here, powder day policies are written into most employee handbooks. Anywhere other than a mountain town, you’d be laughed out of the office.
And winter – that miserable, shivering, gray hulk of a season – brings out the best in us.
Small town livin’ is good, but small mountain town livin’ is great. The promise of epic outdoor adventures brings a whole lot of like-minded folk together and not only gives us something mentally and physically stimulating to participate in, but an easy excuse to get together, be social and create a sense of belonging in the community. And in the winter? The whole damn town is shreddy to hit the white room (I’m fluent in dirtbag skier slang). I had a conversation with a 4 year old on Sunday about his ‘swaggy’ new ski poles.
For the first time in a long time – maybe the first time in my life – I find myself genuinely impressed, a little intimidated, but feeling “in with” the local jive. There is something nostalgic about this town that makes me wish I was here when it was younger. Call it getting older, or becoming more aware of the outcome of decisions you make, but there is not a day that has passed since we moved here that I haven’t looked out the window of our (expensive, poorly sealed) rental home or driven up the Divide or walked through town and not felt like crying tears of sheer joy. On more than one occasion, I actually did.
My skis are being tuned, I’m paying an assload this week to get passes to the local hill for the season, Christmas is already over in my household as we gifted ourselves with – brace yourself – winter jackets, snow tires, and ski passes. I even splurged on a boot dryer for our ski boots.
Winter is coming.