One morning in November 2004 I opened my front door to find 3 feet of snow draped over the landscape. It was my first epic snowstorm and it was breathtaking. But then I spotted the mountain of snow on my absent boyfriend's truck...
Getting out of the driveway without ever having picked up a snow shovel was only half the battle; the prospect of tackling the roads left me with palpitations. I called my boss and said I couldn't make it to work. In between fits of laughter he managed, "Well, don't you have a truck?" My sobs appeased him slightly, and he offered this piece of illegal yet invaluable advice: "Just don't stop at the stop signs."
One evening in January, six years later, I found myself blithely hopping into my Prius to satisfy a South Valley Pizza craving. I was halfway to Bellevue when it dawned on me that I was driving in a blizzard. That's the moment that I realized this city-born, city-bred girl was finally a neo-native. And as any true native will tell you, snow is the lifeblood of this community. When it comes down to it, snow is why there is a Sun Valley.
From my early introduction to life in the snow through to today, I've never fully embraced the white stuff. It tops the lists of things I love most and of the things I like least about living in Sun Valley. The arrival of snow brings beauty, broad grins and buoyant moods. When it refuses to come, it strains our towns' economies and our patience. We spend late fall yearning for it to appear, but by mid-April most of us are ready to see the back of it. Snow is one of Sun Valley's greatest assets, but it is also one of our greatest liabilities. This is an intriguing paradox, one I decided to explore by dedicating this issue to the white stuff and its domination of life here.
Many "Sun Valiants" have bravely invested their lives and livelihoods in snow—meet a handful of them in Winter Guides Deliver the 'Stoke' (page 28) and Snow Soldier (page 18). However, this can be a precarious path. By its very nature, life in a ski town is reliant on a fickle mistress. In Snow Sense (page 10) Greg Stahl examines the symbiotic relationship between ski town and Mother Nature. For me, the take home from his piece is that while snow is why we are all here, it is not a secure foundation for the future. As the country teeters on the edge of a fiscal cliff, the Wood River Valley faces its own precipice: the lack of a clear path beyond the snow.
In our cover story Back in the Valley Again (page 22), Brennan Rego explores one solution. The area's offspring are coming home, bringing with them much-needed verve and vigor, helping to move the valley forward. But what of their own futures? Prosperous careers are still elusive here. One "boomeranger" we profile believes he must make six figures to live here. His solution? Pursue a career elsewhere and live in Sun Valley part-time. That's a fine plan for an individual, but not for a community.
When it's snowing everyone in this town wins; let's make that true for the other 327 days of the year.
Jennifer Tuohy, Editor-in-Chief