I'm sitting in a ski house, at Magic Moutain in Vermont, experiencing first hand what life used to be like. It's what life still is for some, but they're a vanishing breed as this mountain is financially strapped and is in danger of closing down unless there's a huge influx of cash from somewhere.
This place is low key, non-pretentious, easy-going. It doesn't matter what you wear, what brand of ski pants you're sporting, if your ski poles are the latest model. The lodge has basic food, reasonably priced, and everyone's polite and helpful. As a non-skier there are places I've been that make me feel like an outcast, as if by not skiing, I'm missing out on the greatest experience of my life, or that I'm such a loser I shouldn't even waste my time being there. This place isn't like that. Plenty of people are wandering around in jeans and parkas, watching their kids inner tube or mosey down the bunny hill.
There's no fancy village. No expensive restaurants. No slope side mansions that could house a family along with attending staff.
At the moment I can look out the living room windows onto the chair lift, knowing my kids are running around, completely independent and know exactly where to find me when they're done. It's small enough to feel intimate.
Today there's a truck set up outside the lodge with samples of maple syrup on snow. Can't get more retro than that. I remember reading about how maple syrup was made, about tree-tapping, about Native Americas teaching newcomers about this delicious treat. About boiling the sap into a syrup and dropping it in the snow to make candy. And for the first time, I got to try it. And it's outrageously delicious. I've gone through two sticky helpings already.
Someone else is giving away coffee inside. A Vermont coffee promo but it was delicious and warm and the women serving cups up couldn't have been lovelier.
The mountain is selling shares—they're trying to sell 300 lots for $3000 a piece. I want to buy in, and if I had that much money lying around gathering dust, I think I'd invest.
And I don't ski.
Being here is almost making me want to try.
Here, skiing isn't a status symbol. It's not jetting off to Vail or Aspen or fighting the Bogner laden crowds at Stratton. It's just a way to spend time with family and friends.
That's why I think they're failing. People sadly, pathetically need more these days. More glitz, more nurturing, more entertainment. It's not enough to have great slopes and fun activities. You're not buying into a delusion here that you're more than you are.
People these days need vacations that pump up their self esteem. Cruises are like that. Las Vegas. Atlantic City. Club Med. Fantasies that allow you to believe you have more than you do.
Magic Mountain is the opposite of that. It let's people be who they are.
And we, as a society are always trying to escape that.