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Books: Writing the West (Winter 2012)

Literary reviews of the Northern Rockies

Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll

Just a hint of ski wax brings back the awe of being dwarfed by the Tetons, race-time be damned

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages Where the Living is Easy Music in the Mountains The Flight of the Hummingbird Living the Dream Integrating Nature Mountain Exposure Eclectic Parkitecture Uniting Color Historic Symmetry The Year Of The Horse A Yellowstone Club Retreat Hearth and Soul Building a Timeless Legacy An Uncommon Cabin in the Woods Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision Summer Camp Perfect Harmony Winter Getaway: Red Lodge, Montana Beyond the Cabin A Fine Balance Letter from the Editor: What is art? Dining Out: Holland Lake Lodge, Rustic Wonderful Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon Letter from the Editor: Fly Fishing for the Greater Good Western Design: Mountain Zen Western Design: Creekside Contemporary Living Big Sky on HGTV The Spirit of the West in Jackson, Wyoming Letter from the Editor: First Snow Dining Out: The Old Hotel Letter from the Editor: Signs of Summer Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn Dining Out: Simply Good Food From the Editor: Hit the Road Making a Statement: Miller Architects Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll Letter from the Editor: Evolving Home Dining Out: Comfort Food Western Design: Cowboy Modern Western Design: The Idaho Club Letter from the Editor: Talking Art Dining Out: Conserving Montana One Table at a Time Dining Out: Cosmopolitan Cuisine at TEN Dining Out: Ranch to Restaurant Letter from the Editor: Waiting for Summer Letter from the Editor: Arts Economy Letter from the Editor: First Frost Letter from the Editor: Why Art? Letter from the Editor: Up Close and Personal Letter from the Editor: A Tradition of Talent Letter from the Editor: Winter Reflection Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish Letter from the Editor: How Big is Your Bucket Letter from the Editor: Falling Short Western Design: Rustic Allure Dining Out: Fish Food Western Design: In the Studio with Painter Hugh Wilson Western Design: Home Base From the Editor Dining Out: Tradition, with a Twist Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are Letter from the Editor: Big Sky Country Letter from the Editor: Forging Ahead Dining Out: Barn Dance Letter from the Editor: Like an Open Road Letter from the Editor: The Language of Fishing Letter from the Editor: Cast Again Editor’s Letter: The Passing Season Dining Out: Saffron Table Dining Out: Lone Mountain Ranch Serves Up a Sense of Place Western Design: Uniquely Rustic Western Design: JLF & Associates Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility Dining Out: A Montana Tradition, Chico Hot Springs Letter from the Editor: Design Trends Dining Out: The Ranch at Rock Creek Redefines Montana Cuisine Dining Out: Seasonal Bliss Western Design: Refined Rustic Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave Letter from the Editor: Blending Seasons Western Design: A New Mountain Lodge Western Design: Historic Haven Western Design: In the Studio with the Viers Western Focus: Classic Connection: Miller Architects Western Design: Reviving the Barn From the Editor: Seasons of Simplicity Dining Out: Innovation Meets Tradition at Bisl Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
February 2012


For some of us, winter's toll sounds when it’s time to collect firewood and stack it high. Others say it’s when first snow tips the mountains white. A few mark it with the jingle of sleigh bells and Christmas carols. Or the day when the lifts open at the local ski hill.

For me, the sure sign of winter hits when I get my first whiff of ski wax. I love the smell of it, warm and silky, the waxing iron not-quite smoking as it is pressed into the bases of my skis. I’m immediately launched into both nostalgia and urgency.

The aroma of it conjures memories of my high school Nordic ski team days in Wyoming, traveling hundreds of miles for races every weekend — Jackson, Laramie, Cody. After a long bus-ride, my teammates and I would wax our skis to prepare for the early morning race. That balmy scent punctuated every late-night laugh, every inside joke, every boy I liked and what seemed like the highest ambition of the moment: to win. Just a hint of ski wax brings back the awe of being dwarfed by the Tetons, race-time be damned, it was a beautiful thing to be skating across the course in the presence of those mountains. I will never shake the scary sensation of full moon skiing outside West Yellowstone, nor the freedom of launching downhill, relying only on those sticks and muscle memory to arrive safely at the bottom of a mountain.

More directly, that ski-wax scent gets me excited for the upcoming ski season. I get the Alpine boards down from the rafters, pull out the winter garb, say a little prayer to the Saint of Snow and double-check the Farmer’s Almanac winter forecast.

This issue launches winter by showcasing the activities we all pursue to embrace this long, fun season. Early winter is peppered with hunting opportunities for upland birds and big game; check out Chris Dombrowski’s “Shooting Tutorial.” Mid-winter brings skiing, whether it’s extreme racing (“Local Knowledge”); the business of custom-made boards in “A Passion for Powder: Montana Ski Company,” or the Equinox Ski Challenge (“The Big Sky List”). Deep winter is punctuated by the prospect of ice climbing (“Roundup”) and exploring Yellowstone via snowmobile, which tops our annual “Big Sky List”. We hope this collection of stories is your signal for the coming season.

Even now, the snow is falling outside. It must be time to wax the skis. Winter’s coming.