Sometimes the complicated mathematics of choosing what to write about in my weekly column bogs me down, and I have trouble getting started. I am spending a lot of good golfing or fishing time working on my biography.
When you have lived a one-day-at-a-time kind of life, as I have, and lived as long as I have lived, it is mathematically difficult to pick out something that you folks will enjoy reading. From skiing on a $2 pair of Spalding skis with edges and good bindings, to reading a current issue of a ski publication where I see skis advertised for thousands of dollars.
When you buy the new gear, it makes skiing so easy that you think the cost of ultimate freedom is not expensive at all. Of course, if you have a family with three kids, you have to multiply that number, so you better have a lot of float on your credit card. Times change, and so does the price of everything. Laurie keeps reminding me that a lot of my writing revolves around numbers.
Life changes even as I look out my window at Pole Pass, and watch the occasional southbound boat that cruised an extra week, or 200 more miles north. The weather has been as close to perfect as possible for almost two months, and the fortunate retired people who aren’t worried about mowing the lawn in front of their condominium, have been enjoying the extra time on their boats this summer.
The weekend loads on the ferryboats that come to our island are having the largest crowds that I have ever seen. Further testimony to the fact that almost everyone is playing their life a little closer to home because of $4- and $5-a-gallon gasoline. They are discovering wonderful places twice as close as where they used to go for a weekend.
Laurie and I are fortunate because we live on this island, and have a dock in front of our house. A small runabout on one side of the dock, and a larger boat for longer cruises, such as the thousand-mile trip we take to Glacier Bay in Alaska.
Recently, we had some good friends from Boston and Montana come and stay with us for a few days. A trip around our island included a visit to a great pottery place. Then we drive by the only lumberyard I have ever seen without a fence around it. I can go there on a Sunday, fill up my trailer, and leave a note listing what I had driven away with. Next stop is one of the three best skateboard parks in the world, and then off to the summit of Mount Constitution. At 2,400 feet above sea level, you can see almost half of the 178 islands in our neighborhood, only four of which have ferry service.
This was followed by lunch at the cooperative art gallery, and a visit to the golf course where I play as often as time permits, but not as often as I want to. We didn’t even have time to put out the crab pots and get fresh crab for everyone, but, with a 15-mile trip in our boat to Sidney, British Columbia, clearing customs, and then an overnight stay at Forrest Island, I knew my friends from Montana who lived there would have a fresh crab dinner.
Sitting by a campfire and watching all the boat traffic haul people back to reality in whatever large city they live in, always gives me a real dose of reality, when I know how lucky I am to live where I do. No smog and little crime, because, “where would you go and hide after you commit your crime?” It would be at least a two-hour ride on the ferry to get there.
The primary business in this part of the world, of course, is tourism. Unfortunately, the word is getting out about what a great place it is. For example, a national magazine declared it as one of the 10 best places in America to get married. I personally think you can eliminate the other nine places and save looking around for a better place.
Years ago, my daughter got married in front of our house with the ferry boat giving a toot as it glided by in the late afternoon sun. Laurie cooked all of the food for the reception and my neighbor, Mike Brown, was the preacher.
As I sit on the front porch in the late afternoon sun, I watch it disappear behind Pole Pass. It is setting farther to the south every night. Before I know it, Laurie and I will be packing up our stuff for our annual migration to Montana to live on the side of a ski hill at the Yellowstone Club.
The ebb and flow of politics is uppermost in everyone’s mind right now, but let’s not forget that this country is all about freedom and anyone of us is free to work as hard or play as hard as we want to. The trick is to always live a little below whatever your monthly income is. Tithe 10 percent of your growth income to yourself first and you can enjoy the last half of your life as much as you did the first half. I am glad I have followed this philosophy for most of my life, because doing so has given me the ultimate freedom to live exactly as I choose.
Warren Miller is history’s most prolific and enduring ski filmmaker. Visit warrenmiller.net or visit his Facebook page at facebook.com/warrenmiller.