Skiing season is here. You would never know by the weather here in the lowlands, but you can tell by looking at all the advertisement for winter sports gear.
Invariably, these ads will depict some incredibly cool dude or dudess doing something unbelievable in some impossibly pristine area. And maybe it's a sign of the velocity at which I am approaching that stage of life known as being a really grumpy old fart, but those beautiful pictures give me the same feeling as somebody scratching their fingernails down a blackboard.
For one thing, I am beginning to feel that nature that looks that friggin' good should perhaps be left alone. Yes, I know, getting a glimpse of spectacular nature will trigger us into protecting it.
But then there's the unintended propaganda effect. These pictures tell us that the only beautiful nature out there is one which is unfit for human habitation anyway, places that can be used for nothing except as recreational areas. As long as we preserve the mountain tops and the deserts for their pure awesomeness, maybe we won't notice what an awful mess we're making of the rest of this planet.
Why does middle-class "fun" today equate with "going somewhere previously unspoilt"? I am highly guilty of this mind-set myself. But gradually, the vision of packs of dreadlocked ski-bums in garish, plastic clothing chartering helicopters to get to those really remote off-piste places is starting to seem less and less innocent to me. We mushers have a lot of explaining to do too, for that matter.
Ideally, we would all live in really, really nice places. Places where we could go bicycling or skiing or surfing or maybe somebody could develop some real high-adrenaline gardening. We could live in places we didn't feel we ever had to escape from. And maybe this could even work in reverse, we could all simply decide to do fun things right where we live, even if the place we live in doesn't look all that great.
Sure, a change of scenery is nice. But the Great Spectacular Nature Show put on by advertising companies does end up being read as "everything cool is somewhere else", which can not possibly be a healthy message in the long run.
Whine, whine, whine.