After the constant movement among new places, people, and experiences over a nine-day cross-country road trip, I’m in the midst of another decidedly quiet New Hampshire summer. That daily thrill of the road is gone, replaced by routine and typing away on the computer until the heat of my non air-conditioned apartment drags my productivity into the mud.
The brat inside me—that adrenaline-seeking, short-term-gratification-yearning goblin that’s a product of organizing my life around skiing—is cranky as all hell. I’ve tried to keep him at bay by exploring as many bike trails within a 45-minute drive as possible, but he’s been digging his unsatisfied claws into my back.
We’re in an annual tanned purgatory, fully embedded in summer, ruing all the trips we haven’t taken. Beautiful beach days no longer carry the novelty they did in June. On the East Coast we sit waiting for the lake-flat Atlantic to churn, for the hurricanes to begin their climb along the coast. This is what our bodies have been waiting for: for the weather to turn violent, the temps to change, the leaves to fall, and the waves to pick up. Once that first ‘cane throws itself against the beach, it’s a steady uptick in nature’s wrath until we’re skiing again, rallying against the cold and the wind, satisfying the urge for confrontation that is so markedly absent from our summer lives.
As skiers, we view atmospheric change as a general good. We want the trees to rattle in the wind, the sky to darken, the population to run for safety—because that’s when it snows. We talk about rhythm, about snow cycles. We want to pull up radar images and see darkness bearing down on our home mountain; battalions of pinks and purples and blues amassing in fronts and flanks like an invading army. Unlike other civilians, we want to be engulfed in a vicious, overpowering force.
As much as the lull sucks—sweating in your underwear, cursing the sun—we need it. It’s the last time we have to sit in the dugout. In a few weeks, waxing and tuning your skis will almost be justifiable. You can start hunting for late-October freak storms to chase and ruin your bases on. You can go to ski movie premieres, ski expos, see new sticks on the ski shop rack—all the hallmarks of the countdown to winter. But you gotta want it, first. That’s what the lull is for, to make you really, really want it. Get your tortured rest now, because soon the calendar will set your body in motion. Soon that sweet, beautiful and violent time of year will be upon us.
(This is The Base Grind, Ryan Dunfee’s weekly look at the ski industry. Last week, he explained the Fantasy Draft.)