Hello skiers, riders and tubers and thank you for calling the Mount Peter Snow Phone. Quick math, I have said those words on a nightly recording one thousand, nineteen hundred and twenty times. It is something I have done each and every operating night since I took over the snow phone sixteen years ago. I can recite those words in my sleep. I have done this recording in my office, from the car, in hotel rooms, at a conference, while away at grad school, in my basement while trying to be as quiet as I could so I did not wake up my baby, in a hospital waiting room, in a hotel lobby, while sick, while tipsy, during a divorce, while falling in love, through heartbreaks and best days of my life.
That snow phone and I have been through a lot. I learned the fine art of finding the good in any ski weather. Skiing and snowboarding while we are making snow is the same as skiing and snowboarding during a snowstorm, the dreaded “r” word is nothing more than immature snow that has not yet crystalized, and if you are skiing or riding in wet weather, well then you’re in luck, because the snow is forgiving and it’s easier to learn. Happy, peppy, and as Renee, our customer service manager, would say, bursting with love. Finding the positive in any ski weather has helped me to search for the positive in any situation.
Mount Peter has been my life for forty-five years. My sister’s life for slightly longer. We have worked here our entire lives. We have each left, and come back. We know every inch of the mountain, every creek of the buildings, every color the lodge has ever been painted. I don’t know who I am without this mountain.
This season was supposed to be epic. It is our 85th Anniversary Season, a milestone that we have been planning on celebrating since our last big bash. Fireworks, music, food – all lined up and ready for guests. And then COVID happened, and all of these things are on hold. The good news is that we have been so busy with the guidelines and regulations, worrying, planning, and working that it has not really hit us that we are missing out (until right at this moment, actually.) We are so thankful to be open that worrying about missing our celebration is on the bottom of our list of things to worry about.
How do we celebrate Mount Peter without a party? Well, we can start by saying thank you, not to us (well, that is always nice), but to the mountain. To the essence that is Mount Peter, the memories and the laughter and the families that have come together here. Every person who has ever been here is a part of our history. We can no longer see the footprints left in the snow, but they are there all the same. I swear, when we shut the lifts down for the night, voices linger.
With each passing year, the mountain changes just a tiny bit. Each new season feels the same, yet different. On quiet nights here during the summer months, if I sit on top of the mountain and just listen, I can sense my past catching up to my present. I can see myself, as a little girl, sitting in the same spot, wondering what my life at this mountain would be like. I say that I don’t know who I am without this mountain, but it’s because of Mount Peter that I am who I am today. Is this my purpose? I honestly do not know. There is a pull to another life, of course there is – you can’t live in your childhood forever. And yet …
And yet, here I am. My sister is in her office down the hall and we talk all day long. Do not tell her this – it is a secret – but she is my truest friend. People that remember what we were like as kids and teenagers and even young adults would never have thought we could work together, much less run a mountain together, but here we are, doing just that. One more secret? I would never have done it without her.
We can also celebrate by thanking my parents, Gail and Don. I don’t know if they fell in love with each other before or after falling in love with Mount Peter, but when they decided to make a go of running a small ski area in New York State, when they had no money to do so and no real business knowledge, I’m sure they had no idea that more than forty years later, their kids would still be here, watching the bull wheel turn, night after night, season after season.
So please join me in celebrating Mount Peter, even though there is no official celebration. Perhaps by the end of the winter, we will feel comfortable and energetic enough to pull off a surprise party. Either way, I am still proud of everything that we have achieved, and so very grateful that I have had the opportunity to grow up at, and with, this mountain.
As I close this day, I will record my snow phone, and repeat the line now for the one thousand, nineteen hundred and twenty first time: “Thank you for calling Mount Peter, and we’ll see you on the slopes!”
Amy Sampson-Cutler is a fiction writer who earned her master’s degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont. She recently won second place in the WOW! Women on Writing Spring 2020 Flash Fiction Contest, and has been published twice in the Pitkin Review, as well as the Wellness Universe, Elephant Journal, and was a Community News Writer for the Times-Herald-Record. She is the Executive Manager at Mount Peter Ski Area. She writes suspense, horror, and science fiction. She can be contacted through AmysHippieHut.com.