Even in the desert, winter inevitably brings tele ski dreams. And if I can’t buckle on my T2s here in Tucson, I can at least imagine making perfect turns in knee-deep powder (and in my imagination, my quads never get sore). The holiday redesign of is a gentle reminder that it’s snowing somewhere, and somebody is carving fresh tracks (It’s also because, now that I have finished my exams and comprehensively re-organized my academic files and related materials to facilitate unobstructed productivity, I have writer’s block). On the subject of the redesign, I have to give some thanks to the good people at blogstyles, who put together the dynamite three-column template and stylesheet on which I built the new site. I made a few modifications to Kristine’s template, which is a slam-dunk drop-in for existing movable type layouts.

Tele ski dreams always come back this time of year. In response to them in earlier years, I made myself a telemark desktop (this was way back on mandrake 6.0). This year, I’m thinking about the last time I went skiing, right here in southern Arizona. Tucson actually has a little ski resort, Ski Valley, at the top of Mt. Lemmon. It has a whopping 950 feet of vertical, and it only opens for a few weeks a year. Two years ago, after two days of mid-January storms in the valley and snow on the mountains, Ski Valley finally opened — for a while. I hit the road and trekked up, and was the 2nd car in the lot that day. There were eighteen inches of fresh powder on the ground. I skiied until my quads rebelled and refused to let me squat any more. By that time, most of the snow was tracked out by snowboarders (a favorite telemark bumper sticker: “Tele: If it were easy, they’d have to call it snowboarding”), but on my last run, as the sun faded, I came across a gully I had missed — and so had everybody else. So I made my last run through untracked gentle powder. When it’s good, tele skiing is like flying — flying while doing aerobics, perhaps. Turns comes in gliding succession, and in the right snow they’re close to silent, so you hear your own breathing more than anything. I puffed my way down the gully, hearing — as always — my dad’s voice, encouraging me to crouch lower, get my arms downhill, get on that ski. The turns were perfect, and I heard him cheering.

At the bottom of the hill, I knocked the snow off my skis and carried myself back to the car for the long drive down the Catalina highway. Here’s hoping for a good winter in the desert.