Sunday, 18 April 2010

End of the line?

Never say never they say. I try not to be drawn into demarcating the seasons. Nature is far too powerful to be lulled into our modern preoccupation with compartmentalization but to me this last week saw an end of sorts. Or maybe the beginning of the end. It was my last week working as a ski guide for this winter. The snow is retreating rapidly. Already absent in Bergen it was noticeably starting to play truant as my empty train crawled up into the mountains at the beginning of the week.

It wasn't all doom and gloom though, far from it. The first three days saw blistering sunshine as we danced around Nature's fickleness and moved our entire program from the cosseted valley floor to higher elevations, in search of snow. Here too though Spring's march was paid witness by an ageing, rotting snow pack. A double edged sword, the sunshine raising spirits with one hand and chastising foolishness with the other. Pounding UV caught out youthful bravado that ignored our never ending instructions to slather on the sun cream. Learning by burning.

Ski guides come in all shapes and sizes. From pale Englishmen, through rugged, weathered Norwegian mountain men to golden haired, four legged Lukas. A man's best friend and even more important to a cold, tired teenager, missing home. A little Lukas therapy can change a child's perspective on a long day. I wish he could fit in my first aid kit. The week closed out with less than salubrious weather and the snow gave way in places to brown ice and gravel, skiing to walking. The guides said their goodbyes at the train station. Promises of next season and hopes for the summer were shared then we wend our separate ways. Back in the city I cleaned my skis and put them away in the utility room. I paused as I turned, one hand on the light switch, the other on the handle of the door, hovering between open and shut. Summer and Winter. Skiing and hiking. A smile crept across my face. It might not be this definite. Nature may yet play another card. Never say never.


Nielsen Brown said...

A beautifully written piece which is well supported by the photos, thanks Joe.

Enjoy the new season, the new gear and the new challenges that will arrive.

Martin Rye said...

The ebb and flow of the seasons, Time to enjoy all that spring and summer bring to the mountains.

kate said...

nah, just changing trains :)

Anonymous said...

Spring has been here in Central Scotland for a month or so now, I have blossom on the cherry tree and catkins on the willow.

Somehow winter seemed over too soon, yet I do find myself looking forward to warm summer nights and barbecues...

Joe Newton said...

Roger - thank you for your kind words. I have had a fantastic winter and I'm a little reluctant to let it go but I'm totally looking forward to the summer.

Martin - very true. Relishing the thought of sunburn, ticks and mozzies ;-)

Kate - my train of thought is stuck in the station ;-)

Fraser - just this afternoon I saw my first catkins and buds on the trees around the nearby reservoir. I find myself looking forward to the summer too, and beyond to next winter!