The torrid love affair that is seasonal ski town living

Seasonal living was made for me, an all or nothing girl, living my life in a binge and purge cycle not dissimilar to the bulimia days of my twenties.

I’m either rich with disposable cash or poor searching for coins in my car, overweight or super buff, highly social or locked in my home, three inches of grey in my dreadlocked roots or glossy flowing auburn locks, heading towards the peak of the season or crashing down the other side riding the come down wave.

That, my friends, is ski town living.

You arrive in North America with high hopes, just like the days before a diet when you clean out the cupboards, polish off the nutri-bullet and spend $5000 on greens at Wholefoods that will rot in the fridge. Life is golden as you reset your Tinder geographic profile, unpack 20 pairs of winter shoes (19 of which will never be worn), sign up for yoga that you will attend once and join all the local Facebook trading groups that then flood your feed with torn cushions covered in mould selling for $5.

The season ahead is filled with promise. Petrol in America is cheaper than a Chinatown shellac manicure and supermarkets are open 24 hours. The snow comes in, bringing Northern season powder days to test the legs and 12 hour computer days to keep up with the peak season work load.

Gone are those greens replaced with 16 ounce cups of American drip filter coffee that send your liver into toxic shock. Yoga can wait for the thigh burn to dissipate (it doesn’t), multiple cross country time zones chasing the snow throws your cortisol into overdrive and you start to consider cancer inducing sun beds just to get some warmth into the bones.

By April you are spent, carrying the 5 kilos you put on rather than lost, which makes you 10 kilos up not 5 kilos down, and buying kaftans on line as you picture yourself lying poolside at the Four Seasons for a week in Bora Bora on your way back south. You try to sell your skis at the end of the season to a tight arse town who offer half of the ridiculously low sum you’ve advertised them for, which you eventually accept because, Bora Bora.

Meanwhile you start trawling the New Zealand classifieds for four figure monthly rental accommodation only a crack den mother could love. You put out the coin jar to start collecting money for $500 avocados, that are hard as a rock or puckered like a prune in Queenstown supermarkets. Then wonder what you’ll get for your second kidney to cover the $2.50 a litre petrol prices looming ahead.

The Four Seasons gets traded in for three days in an Air BnB in Rarotonga on your way south and you can’t complain because, well, you’re in Rarotonga while your mates are working nine to five for superannuation and equity in a startup office in Rhodes in Sydney.

You’ve got a month, maybe two if you’re lucky, to cram in a summer when the world is in spring or autumn before you head to the next winter. Where it all starts again.

Resort town living is like a torrid love affair that starts with passion, peaks with conflict, gets thrown away with abandon and then lures you back. It’s an abusive relationship filled with highs, lows, hope and addiction and the best kind of powder.

Your friends wonder why you return after all your complaints and tears. Then they visit and fall in awe at the base of glorious mountains, sit on the edge of azure lakes, hit the ecstasy of white rooms of blower tree skiing powder and they dream of throwing in that job in Rhodes and joining you on the road. 

Meanwhile you swear you won’t return to wherever you are, ever, and make the call to leave a place and not extend your lease. Then, surprise not surprise, you start to fall back in love with what drew you there in the first place, those early season reasons that get forgotten when daily living wears you down.

By the time you’ve finished your next winter in the other hemisphere you’re already planning the return to the last one that had you waddling out of town with more luggage under your eyes than at the airline check-in. Because time changes memories, it softens them with longing. 

The unsettled life, and resort town living, is a privileged one but it’s not for everyone. Some seasonaires end up placing roots in the town, create a viable life and relish all four seasons over an endless winter.

But here’s the thing, the seasonal life is a life. It may not be the family life, though it could be, it may not be the career life, though it could be. Some leave it behind forever, writing it off to a life growth phase as they play grown ups with mortgages and school fees. 

Others continue to feed the season to season binge and purge addiction cycle, more comfortable in a world of goodbyes than a lifetime of hello. 

Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Loved this!!! Some of your sentiments ring so true, 20th season just closed and the 21st is looming, your opening statement is literally me. But I love it, and although it has some definite drawbacks I couldn’t picture another life… not just yet anyway ?

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