It’s early enough in the season that people are not burned up, broke or burned out. There’s still a bit of holiday cheer and winter optimism in the thin Fraser Valley air. This is the seasonal sweet spot. We need snow, though.

When you live the resort life you figure out how to survive. You may be sleeping in a shotgun shack or a palace on the hill. Last fall I saw people living in the woods and even at the cemetery but they’ve moved on now that it’s winter. We all have to find a place to go or leave town.

For me, resort life used to mean lots of roommates. It meant skimming cream found spilling over the top of the cup. It meant bottom feeding from the excesses of the resort community at every opportunity. Face it, there’s a lot of scum on the tank. When you are living on the edge you learn who has the best happy hour, where to find the best art openings and which parties to cater. You gotta eat.

You do what you have to do to get that complimentary pass. I have done everything from working in mountain restaurant kitchens, to ski school and for generous employers who provide a pass and the time to use it. Those employers are rare and special.

Resort life means having the inside track to the best runs, knowing the doorman when the bar is spilling over and being able to fit in at bank receptions and art openings.

The best art openings are those offering food and drink. A clean, colorful sweater and a pair of glasses should throw all but the most cynical gallery owners off your scent.

It’s best to get a drink right away and go ahead and pile the appetizer plate high. This keeps both hands full so you don’t have to shake hands with anyone. In an emergency you can always pop a Swedish meatball in your mouth when authority approaches.

Walk slowly through the sculptures and paintings and pretend to be interested in the price tags. If there is a live jazz trio, stand right in front and tap your foot to the music.

Refill your drink and appetizers often if this is your dinner. Really popular openings often run out of food after about an hour. Besides, the artist or gallery owners may be onto you if there’s not a big crowd. Tuck in early and cut out as soon as you can.

If you are down to your last ten bucks and you are spending the day on the hill do not waste cash on overpriced food. Use it for overpriced beer and take advantage of the free food that’s available at most mountain restaurants.

Here’s my recipe for Pickle S’mores:
Grab a cafeteria tray and some napkins. Pile up packets of Saltine crackers – set aside. Fill plastic cups with pickle chips, raw onions or even relish and set aside. Gather three packets of artisanal mustard and/or hot source and pepper packets – set aside.

Go to a table that is not in view of the management and assemble S’mores. Start with a Saltine, add a pickle chip, onion, mustard and sprinkle with pepper.

Eat in one bite, like sushi.

Follow with the cheapest draft beer they offer. Back in the day ten bucks would get me a couple of draft beers but prices have gone up and you may only be able to purchase one beer at today’s resort prices. S’mores and beer fill you up and set you up for a few more runs down the icy slopes at the end of the day.

My partner works for a food bank. She wastes nothing and has brought home some really delicious bread she pulled out of the dumpster. Yes, I have recently consumed perfectly good food bank dumpster bread (from Whole Foods). Of course I toast it to sanitize it but good bread is good bread.

She also volunteers at a dairy farm. The dumpster bread topped with raw butter with a bit of added salt makes for a king’s meal, especially if you have something cold and bubbly to wash it down.

Living off the fat of the land isn’t for everyone but if it helps you live here and catch that first lift, it’s worth the hassle.

Steve Skinner is just learning the ropes here in the Fraser Valley but he brings a breadth of experience from resort living in Aspen. Reach him at