The sun is slowly making its way across the valley, taking with it the evidence of last night's hard frost. We have had weeks of sunshine and mild temperatures, not typical of November and I feel like every drop of sunshine and ounce of warmth is a gift. We are living on borrowed time. Winter will be coming to stay anytime. We were teased with a couple of early snowfalls around Canadian Thanksgiving in October, each one creating great excitement about the coming ski season and our first winter living in the mountains.
There are many signs of what's coming. The shorter days - dusk arrives around 5pm (17:00 Euro speak) bringing an end to the sunshine and making me want to shut myself inside in front of the fire. The layer of frost that coats the ground each morning stretches as far as the eye can see, it's hue changing with the undulations of the ground. The shop windows in town tantalize passers-by with skis, ski suits, winter boots and lots of fur! Christmas is, of course, sneaking in already. A sparkle here, a bauble there. I even noticed some twinkling white lights outlining the entrance and windows of one of Saanen's hotels last night. Esmée has been playing Christmas music all week.
For ski enthusiasts like the Swiss and ourselves, a new sign almost as significant as the first real snowfall appeared this morning. It was still dawn, the early morning light was just starting to emerge from behind the mountains to the East. Eli noticed what he claimed to be a fountain of snow in the air a couple of hundred meters outside of our chalet. At first I thought it was smoke because they have been doing a lot of brush burning in the mountains lately. After much discussion and a few moments outside to listen for the distinctive noise of snowguns, our household decided that snow-making has begun on the Saanen Eggli.
It was all the talk at school drop-off, confirming our conclusion - "did you see that they've started making snow on the Eggli"?, "yes, also in Rougemont", "it's getting late, they need to start making a base"... The excitement was palpable, skiers had an added spring in their step and I know that visions of carving turns danced in every one of their heads.
|puddles of snow at the base of the snowguns - |
the early beginnings of a ski season
And so, like the chair lifts below, we wait for that exhilarating first run of the year and the promise of a long, snowy winter in the Saanenland. We're ready, bring it on....