1. Repair broken windows in vehicle with a winter-ready combination of cardboard, trash bags, and duct tape. Same goes for house.
2. Locate ski gear in the back of truck beneath summer debris. Gingerly sniff ski boots. Wince. Flex skis experimentally. Note that bindings still seem to have an alarming amount of play and skin glue has accumulated a thick impasto of truck-bed detritus—dirt, pine needles, cigarette butts, and what appear to be bits of faded bar receipt. Cleverly wedge a ski into the tailgate and scrape the glue side across the edge. There—good to go for another year.
3. Training. Throw your back out moving rounds of firewood and spend the rest of the day drinking beer on the couch. (For the kids on Newschoolers, ignore the above, just get dressed up in your ski gear and 270 on/270 off the coffee table until Mom tells you to stop. Drop the GoPro edit after dinner.)
4. Go to thrift store and stock up on VHS tapes for down days: Caddyshack, Die Hard, perhaps License to Thrill. Purchase silly pants that you won’t wear until closing day, framed poster of someone doing a backlit mule kick in 1978, and a battered but still serviceable pair of Salomon green springs that’ll be perfect for those old 217s in the closet.
5. Leave voicemail message for most recent ex-girlfriend that makes clear in no uncertain terms that she’s Dead To You Now, but perhaps under extraordinary circumstances you might be willing to Talk About It. Practice lines to pick up wide-eyed new lift ops with when they show up in town next week. My old reliable: “What’s your name again?” Advanced Tip: enunciate. Tougher than you might think at 12.30 on Taco/Tequila Tuesday. Now do three shots and say that rapidly.
6. Winterize malamute.
7. Recover backcountry pack from bottom of closet. Wonder why, exactly, you felt the need for a flask of gin and what appears to be cheap lingerie during that last spring mission to slay the gnar. Consider it thoughtfully for a moment, then replace flask and fishnets next to bent shovel and half-eaten Snickers bar. You never know, you know?
8. Open snowmobile hood and look at engine as if you knew what you were looking for. Note puddle of fluid on driveway. Later that day, drink a couple of beers and wander over toward snowmobile acting like you’re preoccupied with something else and then suddenly leap at it and pull wildly at the starter cord as if to surprise it into starting. If it does start, balance the back end on a two by four and then gas it loudly for several minutes, belching black clouds of fouled-plug smoke through the neighborhood.
9. Tune skis.
10. Practice steely-eyed look into the indeterminate mid-distance, as if looking at a bergshrund or serac or something: Ready To Slay At A Moment’s Notice, but Totally Humble About It.
And it’s so totally on.