08 March 2022

Credo: This is my yellow jacket

ca. 2004-2005
This is my yellow jacket. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My yellow jacket has been a good friend to me. Without it I am vulnerable.

My yellow jacket has faithfully guarded me from the ravages of weather.  It has protected my body from injury.

We are a part of 
one another, my yellow jacket and I. Together we have endeavored to master the mountain.

* the work of the Courtesy Patrol includes:
 lost family-member reunification,
detached ski reinstallation,
perplexed guest reorientation,
Ski Patrol incident notification,
uprooted signage restoration,
downhill-slope traffic mitigation,
& general ski-area explication
I have been volunteering as a member of the Courtesy Patrol at Arizona Snowbowl this season, skiing more days, and also longer days, than I've ever skied in any previous season, usually 3-5 days a week, 4-8 hours a day, weather and snow conditions notwithstanding.  Over the course of some 40+ days on the mountain thus far this season, and despite having one of the most amazingly fun and interesting ski seasons ever, I have nonetheless reluctantly been forced to conclude that my old yellow Marmot jacket is no longer able to keep up with the demands that my new work* has been placing upon it.  Lately, I've been getting increasingly colder, and wetter, and more wind-blown. And I've deduced that this is happening because my trusty old yellow shell is, quite simply, worn out.

Precise recollection fails me, but my best guess is that I probably bought my yellow jacket in 2004, nearly twenty ski seasons ago now.  I have worn it every winter, on practically every single day that I have skied since then (I did attempt to replace it back in 2011, with a newer, fancier jacket, but, well, that plan did not work out the way I had intended it to).

It has reliably sheltered me from the mountain's most brutal elements, and the weather's harshest conditions, during literally hundreds of great days, down many thousands of great runs, throughout what must have been the linking of at least a million great turns (How many Telemark skiers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? At least three, one to install it, and two more to say, "Dude, great turns!").

I've punched or torn, and then patched, with needle-and-thread, or duct- and packaging-tape, a half-dozen major holes in its fabric. It has been washed no more than a handful of times over the many years that I've owned it. Nonetheless, it does not stink.

ca. 2021-2022
Over the course of the intervening years, however, it has become increasingly threadbare in many places, and it's laminate wind/waterproofedness has become noticeably worn-through and less effective. It's seam tape has begun to detach on portions of the sleeves and also on parts of the body.  And its cuffs, hems and collar have become too stretched and inelastic to be effective anymore against the incipient invasiveness of snow and wind and water and ice.

Therefore, the 2021-2022 winter season is to be its last; my old yellow Marmot shell has been retired.  But I haven't yet had the heart to throw it away.  Instead, I intend to give it a place of honor on the wall of my garage among my former cycling jerseys, vintage posters, and treasured topo maps. 

I ordered a simple, well-reviewed Patagonia shell to replace it, hoping it, likewise, will protect me and be my good-friend for the next twenty years.

My only problem: it's not available in yellow.


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey