'Twas the Night Before Opening Day

Posted on Nov. 22, 2022

Christmas Eve Night in Crested Butte
‘Twas the night before opening day, when all through the Town
Not a creature was stirring, not even on Elk;
The skis were hung from their roof racks with care,
In hopes that in the morning, they still would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of moguls danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ski mask, and I in my hat,
Had just settled down for a long snowboard wax

When out on the mountain there arose such a clatter
I sprang from the board to see what was the matter
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day chairlifts below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a patroller in action, and a groomer in gear!

With a snowcat operator, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment, the snow must be thick
More rapid than eagles, the snowcats, they went,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by department:

“Now lift ops! Now grooming! Now snowmaking and patrol!
On ski and ride school! On lift maintenance! On dining, let's go!
To the top of the lift! To the top of the Headwall!
Now ski away! Ski away! Ski away all!”

As dead leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the mountain-top the groomers they went,
With bags full of tools, and open jacket vents.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the trail
The prancing and wapping of an avy dog’s tail.
As I put on my gloves, and was turning around,
Down the mountain the patroller came with a bound.

He was dressed in Helly Hansen, from his head to his toes,
Frost covered his boots, his helmet, his clothes;
A couple of skis he had flung on his back,
And he looked like he was about to get first tracks.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And you could tell he was ready to tear up the snow;

The stump of a ski pole, he held tight in his teeth
And his breath, it encircled his head like a wreath
He had a broad face but I couldn’t see his belly
It was covered up by eight layers of Helly!

He looked chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
Surveying all the runs; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, down the mountain he goes;

He sprang to his snowcat, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all went like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,