2 Months and 14 Years…or Home is Fall in Whistler


Images of T.J. Burke riding his mountain bike through fall leaves on an empty street slowly drift in as the mornings cool and the summer crowds fade back to their cities…and the 14 year anniversary of seeing snow on Wedge in September is tomorrow, Sunday. “Did you see the snow on wedge…” The voice of the old guy with the big mustache at Peaks whispers in the wind of winters past.  Did you see it this past week?  If you did, you are home, and you know what I’m talking about. 

I’m over summer.  I’m over the ASP surfing on the net, I’m over the TV and the computers, the phone I’m writing on (yep, you too Android), and the car.  I’m even over riding my bike…I know, I know…and no, I’m not walking to work, I’m skateboarding damn it, because it’s two months until the first chance of sliding on snow and rolling my Slater longboard to work is the closest thing to surf in this mountain town baby!

Two months of…well, I don’t know what really but we’ll have a pretty good idea tuesday when the kids go back to school and the cars are long gone down a lonely highway 99.  Two months of figuring out who’s still open for lunch…who’s still open (?)…two months of random business hours and two months of slow walks with my two year old to Alpine Cafe for chai tea and ‘krispies’ squares while big brother is back in school…in grade 2 no less.

Kelly Slater said, “there are thousands of religions but there’s only one surfing”, but these mountains are my home and, “on this rock I build my church”.

I arrived in earlier days…rewind more than a few decades… from windswept snows and spendthrift drifts on endless prairie horizons where mountains were dreams and rope tows on landfill sites.  Hours west, I looked through the Greyhound windows as the prairie reached the sky…awake, asleep, awake, saw the steep Sinclair Canyon walls and then a sign:

God bless the people of these mountains.

From the time I was a year younger than my son’s age, I wondered if it didn’t have a double meaning, if it wasn’t a blessing within a curse, that somehow the people should know better than to come here.  A lifetime later…the best of my boyhood questions are left unanswered but I know I am home. 

…and yes, I know it might be easier (insert: cheaper, faster, closer, bigger, better?)…and all the other ‘er’ words that have sent so many sometimes friends and neighbors packing in 14 years to some big cities somewhere east of never (usually cities they still call ‘home’).  I know.  I know like you do if you are still here reading this with me making your way to the Sunday market outside my shop…but here we are.

I cut out an ad with a picture of a tent from a magazine once upon a time that read:

“Home is the one place that makes you feel there’s no place you’d rather be.”

and these two months in Whistler say that better to me than any borrowed words.  There is nothing better than skiing, but in the same breath, there is nothing better than rolling over pine needles on the Valley Trail or seeing familiar faces at the elementary school dropping off their kids each morning.  There is nothing better than the simple calm in the quiet time between the seasons.  This is our home.


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