Taken by John Atkinson

A Season of Gratitude

For the last few weeks it seems that “It’s so beautiful” are the words most apt to come out of my mouth. The snow, the quiet, the powder, the sky, the clouds above and below me—all abound day after day. Sun peeks out for an hour or a day and the accolades continue. But that is not what is in my thoughts. I ride lifts, walk trails, drive roads and just feel incredible gratitude. I find myself so lucky to live in the sanctuary of the Mad River Valley during scary, fear-filled time. Possibly it is just because I am living very close to home that I am seeing things and finding places I haven’t really seen or fully appreciated before.

In ways hard to explain, I often feel suspended in time and I am committed to maximizing it. My Ikon Pass allows me to spend a day or grab an hour and simply enjoy. Most days my last run takes me to the trunk of my car where I giggle celebrating a perfect outing. Typically, I travel west for a skiing vacation mid winter but I am not suffering the reversal this year as it almost seems the west has come to me.

I feel incredible gratitude to the resort for maximizing safety protocols and figuring ways to accomodate our needs. Additionally, staff from the parking attendants to the kind lifties who slow the speed of the incoming chair at Heaven’s Gate and North Linx sparing the back of our legs are just the best. Ski patrolers are available and eager to help. There are not enough words to thank the team that creates and cares for the snow—a thumbs up from afar is somehow just not enough.

On busy weekends, even with wind issues, crowds are calm and wait patiently. They, too, are happy for the privilege of being out, around masked skiers and boarders, and they know their turn will come to share our bounty. When off the mountain there is no shortage of abundance—great shops, foods to take-away and places to continue to engage with Vermont and winter beauty.

On CBS Sunday Morning recently there was a segment on people leaving high risk natural disaster areas in search of homes where they can feel safe. A featured family, having lost their home in the Paradise, CA fire, have relocated to the Burlington area and said they couldn’t be happier. I hope they discover The Valley and its unique contribution to Vermont. This last year has reinforced the philosphy that I must embrace a concept that to be happy and content, I must celebrate what is and put aside what is not. I have. It is easy and only right to then add a heartfelt thank you— right after I say “it’s so beautiful”.

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