Five more days. We can make it. Let’s pretend we’re in this together. Pretend you’re not waking alone. Up early enough to slip into the back room for another layer and your sneakers. And to watch Kona, the lighter-one, open his eyes, yawn and assume his namesake asana. The other, Riley, opens one eye and decides he’s still sleeping. He’s not in this with us.
Outside, the air has finally dipped below freezing. The chill becomes a sting in the chest, though five days short of the solstice the sting is usually sharper. El Niño finally reemerged with fury, pushing the snow into California, and pushing California across the country, so by mid-December frost barely forms on the tall grass of the marsh. Even that is hard to see in this morning’s darkness.
I don’t like to be awake this early. This is not my time. I cannot wait for the days to grow longer so I can simply sleep through more of the daylight. For three decades I’ve been better at staying up until sunrise than waking up for it.
And with each footfall on the pavement, I wish I was wearing boots, and three more layers. I want each step marked with the sound of snow compacting. You know that sound. The sound of tightening. Snowflakes echoing the ropes on ships as docks and ports and stevedores struggle against the melt. There is no crescendo, no diminuendo, just the sharp sound of a forced density cutting through each cold breath and the rustle of outerwear. Pants on pants and sleeves against the body. The volume is fixed and I can change only the tempo. But I want to be stepping slowly, to find my footing, not slipping back.
It’s uncommon, even here in the upper Midwest, to have reliable snow before the solstice. After the solstice the longer days signal the trees to bring the wind and coldest months, and the snow falls. But the ground has usually frozen long ago, preparing for coming winter. This year, the ground still feels like a sponge. Soft and damp. Saturated. And it’s hard to image the rain will stop. And it’s harder still to image the snow will ever fall.
And long after I’m home and the coffee is steeping, the sun starts to appear, for one of its shortest shifts of the year. I think of my professor, in Alaska for grad school, and his stories of what the solstice meant to him then. And my friends in Norway, what do they have right now? Two, maybe three, hours of daylight? How dark does the sea seem there? Is there comfort in that darkness, a preparedness in knowing you may not see what’s coming, just stay afloat. It’s going to be cold and wet and but no one drowns if they can keep their head up.
By now, the dogs are awake, and the coffee is brewed. Waffles have been made and consumed. The temperature has pushed above freezing. Rain is in the forecast. Walk out the door, leaving the lights on. It’ll be dark by the time I get home. And it’ll be one day closer to the solstice.
On the level: The Undead
German correspondent, MStibbi, recently dropped a photo of himself downing beers with none other than the Slash-father, Gigi Rüf.
This photo raises one question for me. And maybe this is some industry secret, but someone has to address it.
Is Gigi Rüf a vampire?
Sure, you’re laughing now, or more accurately, probably clicking over to Boardistan, for what you think is real news, but let’s go over the facts here:
- He kills it
- He joined the squad at Nike, a well-known blood-sucking corporation.
- He’s from Europe, where all real vampires come from (Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula 2000 et al)
- He was part of the Uninc, but left when the it was replaced by Easy Living, which eventually had a Grateful Dead graphic. Uninc…Grateful Dead…Undead. Are you starting to see it now?
- Check out this picture from Gigi in 1992:
How old does he look? 30-ish? Is this proof that he does not age? Look at other snowboarders. Terje has looked 50 since he was 19. Shawn White looks like he touches children, NATE BOZUNG IS 17. Yet Gigi has never aged.
- The umlauts in “Rüf” represent the bite marks on the neck of an exsanguination victim.
- His brand, Slash, sponsors Cheryl Maas, who has been known embrace other allegedly mythical creatures.
- His goggle sponsor is Dragon. Vlad the Impaler (Dracula patient zero) was the son of a member of the Order of the Dragon, which was charged to protect Christians in Europe. Now, we’ve already discussed that many vampires (Nosferatu, Barnabas Collins, Markus Cornivus et al) come from Europe, but did you know Gigi’s real name is Christian.
- Need more proof? Check out this picture of Gigi at the signing of the U.S.Constitution.
Shit, you guys, this is for real. It’s time for snowboarders to face the fact that one of our own is a vampire.
Tahoe, it’s nearly time for me to return to you. Please make it deep.