The calendar says it’s only mid-fall and the winter is at least six weeks away. But in my mind, it’s the end of the season. I should know, since I’ve been through the end of the season many times before. I never used to think of the calendar year in these terms until I started doing seasonal work. My job with Boulder County parks is coming to an end. With the days shortening, and the temperatures falling, less people frequent the parks, and the need to have seasonal outreach staff goes away, and so does my job.
Though this sounds sad, in a way it’s just a time to end one chapter and begin a new one. The truth is I started my career in the parks field 17 years ago as a seasonal employee and thought I was the luckiest person on the planet. I got paid to spend time outdoors, walking the trails, and talking to people about nature and wildlife. How awesome is that? It didn’t matter to me that it only lasted for five months, because what an amazing five months it was. And then, after a month’s hiatus, I would move on to the next season – the ski season.
When I was working that first season at Sequoia National Park, and people asked me what I did in the winter, and I replied that I worked for a ski resort in Lake Tahoe, they would say things like, “You are the luckiest person in the world!” And at that moment, I did feel like that. But after three season of going back and forth between Sequoia and Lake Tahoe, the stress and strain of moving place to place, and having to find a place to live each winter started to wear on me. I loved what I did for a job, but I didn’t have a “home”, just a storage unit somewhere.
Now I have that “home” in Nederland, Colorado and after having tried my hand at the year-round office environment, I found the wheel has come full circle and I’m back to working two seasonal jobs in the same fields as where I started almost 20 years ago. This week I just accepted seasonal employment working for a local ski resort, working of all things as a ski instructor. When I first worked in the ski industry, I looked at instructors with a sense of awe, kind of how I looked at Park Rangers. I couldn’t imagine I would ever be one of “them.”
Becoming an interpretive Park Ranger pushed me way out of my comfort zone and made me grow in ways I could never have even realized. I learned how to connect with people, how to organize a program, how to become a compelling public speaker, all things I never would have thought I was capable of achieving. I’m hoping my foray into ski instructing will lead me to similar growth in who I am as a person. To instill in others the life long love of sliding down a mountain with a smile of glee on my face. That would be the definition of true success.
And so begins another season…