By JON GRANT

What Dreams May Come

It is early September and I am having ski dreams. The sun still warms my skin, free days still spent on beach’s sand or dusty path. Yet, I dream of snow. I dream of skiing, of turns, of breathing cold smoke in wide open bowls of sugar, of a three-turn chutes between the boulders, of scooting through powder trees in a silent overture of swift. Snowflakes, mountains topped by an electric blue sky. Uphill edge downhill ski. Freedom fun in a soft white playground. Presentness. Moments of living where, truly, nothing else matters. And though the snow may not fly tomorrow, when these late summer evenings turn crisp winter mornings, I know dreams can come true.


Wakeful Dreaming

The February snow’s so good the ski bum

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feels flotation envy from the marmots.  

They watch from their treed-homes with delighted

caution as he, the incomprehensible god, dashes by.

“So effortless” the marmots squeak to themselves,

“so clean and pure and effortless.”

 

The ski bum, conduit between snow and

atmosphere, and world creating his own world

with linking turns through untracked pillow

lines among Ponderosa Pines.

 
He ripples, his blue-jacket torso and black-pant

legs a soft coil of weighting and unweighting,

his poled-arms out front guiding, his head

all goggles and hair and happiness.  
 

The ski bum’s turns are bottomless, bottomless

bounding, all the way down the fall-line to the lift

line, where he meets, with high fives and snow

covered faces, his ski bum friends —

birds of space with wings unfolded, doing what they’d

choose to do today if tomorrow it would all be gone.


skier in white

Down the white or in the white, among the white or becoming the white, the skier descends in crashing pillows of exhilarated sea foam desalinated and dried out by elevation — and there is nowhere to go except where gravity and low friction quietly nudge. The way the water would go.

Rolling through endless trees of forty-degree pitch, a beacon of bounding balance, the skier plants pole into snow for rhythm, thighs perpendicular to shins and pointed down the fall line. Shins flexed to boot. Core engaged. Arms and poles out front guiding, all body and mind at once quite taut and so very loose.

Amid the falling blanket of white, flakes that have accumulated to feet, the skier absorbs, legs disappearing, poles now nothing more than rubber handles, and below refracting goggles a red handlebar mustache has become a white rainbow. Snow sprays and the skier doesn’t feel like the turn will ever cease, like the powder snow immersion will ever end. “This is the freedom,” he thinks to himself. “This is the flow.”

When skis finally touch, something, a layer that is not quite bottom, rather that incomparable springboard of feather-density where the powder turn reverses itself, this animal reverses himself. Right pole plant rhythm for right-turn rhyme, exploding snow from its gathered state, recycling the coalesced clouds of yesterday back into the air and all around. And, for a moment, the skier exists in a personal white room, a sightless and weightless void of hanging snow, an environment of white-calm and being.


Jon Grant retired from a career as a professional quarterback at 26 to be a ski bum. Since then, he has been a bellman, a blogger, a photographer, a journalist, a vagrant, a graduate student, a university English teacher, a student of the mountains, and a lover of living. Look for his first novel, Snow Valley, due out whenever he meets a publisher with balls. He teaches writing and loves to talk about cool things. Contact him at jrg365@nau.edu or (831) 594-1396.

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