Lava, traffic, trees, smoke, seasons fading into dreams of winter…escape…
Cut to Kye…cornice drop, slide, ski cut…another slide, one more turn to the run out on the ridge line and another slide breaks from above under Kye’s feet. No. He bares down on edge, punches through the liquid white madness with his hands and poles and holds on for life. All.I.Can, Sherpas Cinema…Breathe.
If you’ve been there, under the snow, you know. Stop. Cue heli, cameras rolling, nose in, skis in and Kye climbs up past the camera to the only safe place hovering desperately close to disaster. If you know, you stand up like the local skier I recognize from the shop standing at the end of our row applauding the line that didn’t go and when I look back at the screen through my memories of Kye’s dad in RAP Pictures ‘Burning Winter’ and so many others we’ve lost along the way, I see the boy who has become the man before our eyes in Whistler neighborhoods and big screens and how many ways the world has changed…we are so close to home, to the earth, here in Whistler and so far away right here right now.
Home: A squirrel is running back and forth outside the sliding glass door preparing for winter, my little girl is in pajamas, a new day is there behind the silhouette of Armchair and Wedge and this will be the first Saturday with my home away from home, Street To Peak, no longer there waiting for me. Like Jackson Crompton said, “It is the end of an era.”
Meanwhile, I see a familiar face outside. Every morning one of our neighbors walks past with a towel over his shoulders and walks up the bank on the path to 19 Mile Creek. He is tall, lean, Eastern European…by his accent…and I don’t know his name but like most small town neighbors I know him well enough to say ‘hello’. I imagine once upon a time and place there was no running water in his post Soviet Ukrainian village and like my mother’s once lost family they trade milk for bread and save gasoline to fuel the one car they share for short trips and emergencies. I remember the days at the ranch in the Bugaboos and the time the water was bad up Arrow Creek Road in Creston and I walked down to the cold running waters of the Kokanee Glacier to wash before pounding nails with my dad between semesters to help pay for college after spending too much of my student loan money on ski passes and army surplus pants.
The world is as simple as we make it…
Back at the movie, I smiled and held my wife’s hand when Kye talked about wanting a better world where he will have kids of his own one day. With a home in Whistler and two kids of our own “Trevor would do it”, has a whole new meaning to me now and I wonder if the Trojans behind their great walls or better yet, Ullyses or Achilles would look back and say, “What if?” I wonder if I would do the same, make the same choices, knowing what I know now.
In the lobby Jack and Mike were talking surfing, my best friend was looking for his pregnant wife, my sons little classmate who was in the film signed a poster for him, and somewhere in the wake of change I swallowed hard, smiled, shook their hands and my wife, my Whistler love, hugged them for me when I didn’t.
The world as I know it is gone and it has remained the same in the same breath. The king is dead, long live the king. The Sherpas have finished the most anticipated ski movie ever, fathers have turned to sons on the big screen, the effects of global warming have sent us winters like we have never seen, the effects of recession and the ever emerging globalization of our economy has left small businesses gasping but here we are. A week ago I donated a Chili Thom print and $500 to Whistler Friends at Swell 2 and today I am holding my wife’s hand in a different way as we move on from the dream that was our local living room for the past four years. The world is spinning between seasons, between premiers and elections, between $7 beers and stealing parking and the Sherpas are showing us all what we already know, we all make the world the way it is…and winter is coming Whistler.