Before I moved to Teton Valley, I had never heard of the term Champagne Powder®. Snow was simply snow, and odds were that you would be able to use the stuff to build something. The snow here doesn’t cooperate in the same manner. It’s not wet like that. Flying about through the ice cold air, the flakes refuse to stick to one another. You try to form a snowball and suddenly you resemble a David Copperfield imposter performing a feeble magic act (and the finale is coated in fine, powdery, sparkling snow blowing straight into your own face).
I have grown to love this dry, powdery substance that falls on the Rocky Mountain West. It makes for excellent skiing, and since this place that many refer to as WyDaho relies heavily upon tourist dollars to keep its economy going, I am a fan of the stuff. Personally, I am not a powder hound. I cross country ski rather badly and fear downhill due to my lack of need for speed (or head injury). But those who love it on the steep slopes flock here to feel that dry powder under their well waxed skis.
This winter we have had some rounds of heavier snow come down. Snowmen will appear and then melt, as one might see in other parts of this country. It provides a nostalgic reminder for me of upper Midwestern snow – malleable and easily molded into [mostly] friendly ammunition. But no matter the sentimental attachment, this snow is not ideal for the local economy.
At the same time that I gaze at the horizon and find solace in the jagged horizontal profiles that surround my life, need I also try and measure economic success based on barometric pressure?
I suppose that I must. I don’t want that voice of practicality to be louder than the one that says, you live in a beautiful place – absorb its majesty and be in the moment with this blessing, but sometimes it is. And I find that this is so because I live in a small community, full of small business owners who are trying to carve out a living in a largely tourist economy.
Overall, this has something to do with becoming completely attached to one’s community. Whether you live in a small mountain town like I do, or in a larger urban area, the financial success of the inhabitants influences a number of things – and these factors determine quality of life. Do you shop at small businesses in your community rather than contributing financially to massive retail chains? It matters.
In my environment, ninety-nine percent of choices in where I spend my money affect small business owners. We don’t have chain restaurants here. We don’t have box stores. We do have stunning views and an abundance of wildlife. We have character and moxy. We have struggle, and we own it.
Carving out a living amongst the hardy souls who make this mountain community work is my privilege. When I can quiet the practical voice in my head as I stare in wonderment at my surroundings, the satisfaction is palpable; the fulfillment unequivocal to any place I have ever lived before.