-Where are you going? Sally asked as she saw her husband hauling the skis and boots to load the car.
-Is it not clear? To the Mountain to ski! It’s November 20. The season begins.
-But there is no snow, Jim. We are at 68º. This doesn’t look like November; it seems like spring.
-I do not care. It will be cold up there. It’s the beginning of the season. Every year I go on the first day to celebrate skiing, and this will not be the first day I don’t do it.
-Okay, whatever you say. But be careful.
Jim drove to the ski resort near his town and was encouraged to see snow drifts on the side of the road.
However, the outlook was bleak. Chunks of earth and stone were sticking up everywhere. There was no uniform white layer, but rather like a Gruyère cheese coat of snow with vast holes of dirt and rocks poking about.
The resort was practically empty. A few old friends at the bar, but none wanted to go out. Jim insisted that he would not let the beginning of the season go by without skiing, and he put on his boots, hooked up his skis, and climbed up the chairlift. He was utterly alone. The landscape from up there was depressing.
-How am I going down this slope full of obstacles and with so little snow?, he thought.
He arrived at the top, and without thinking, he began the descent. As he went down, he began to dribble the dry spaces that became more frequent and larger.
His friends waited for him in the bar for three hours. Then they went out to look for him on foot. It was a tough climb. But harder was what they found under one of the rocks in the middle of the slope: Jim’s lifeless body that had crashed against the fatal reality. This year there was not enough snow on the day the season started. And that’s why it was also his last descent.
Photo: Max Whittaker for the San Francisco Chronicle