“How long have you been sleeping outside then?”
“Oh that's a hard question. This would be, oh I don't know, it's going to be, 15 years. . . We put the bed outside. We liked it and it stayed outside. . . If you sleep inside, you don't hear all the birds, you can't hear the coyotes, you don't hear those things and the wind.”
This was the first thing I ever learned about Laura Green. That her bed is outside under a covered porch at her home, and she and her husband choose to sleep outside year-round. Because they like it. Laura is a legend in her community, and a humble, quite badass. Snow safety professional as well as wind forecaster for vocation. Backcountry skier. Windsurfer AND kiteboarder, depending on conditions. Kayaker. A vibrant member of a dancing community. Avid gardener. I am sure that her hours spent outdoors far outnumber her hours spent indoors (especially if you count sleeping).
Laura’s snow safety work protected both resort skiers and backcountry skiers from avalanches. At Mt. Hood Meadows, Laura’s job at ski patrol included skiing into avalanche-prone terrain before the skiing public arrives and detonating explosives that trigger avalanches. By pre-triggering avalanches, it prevents them from being able to roll down on skiers during business hours at the resort. It keeps in-bounds skiers safe. She was also a professional “observer” for Northwest Avalanche Center, collecting field data that would be translated into backcountry forecasts. Both jobs are the kind you don’t want to mess up. Laura shouldered the weight of that responsibility to keep the public safe and enjoyed her duties.
I’d never met someone who loved throwing dynamite as much as she loved savoring the silent majesty of nature. She explained, “Well [snow] comes out of the sky in these beautiful, amazing shapes. . . the beauty of all that happening with us having no control.” She loved the power of the wind, “If you stand out in the gale, just the awesome power of the earth, I love it. That's why I love a blizzard too…”. Laura lived her life absorbing the essence of nature’s beauty and power around her and channeling it into energy that drove her to play and work hard. She loved the power of the wind—especially blizzards—and knowing how to navigate that, to dance with it. To have her own efforts push up against that massive force of nature. But those who push to the edge with forces of nature sometimes get claimed by them.
On December 6th, 2018 Laura passed away in a windsurfing accident in her home region and beloved Columbia River Gorge. The wind finally carried her away with it, out into the glowing ether of the sky.
Her community is left with a massive hole in it. Though Laura knew that she was just one part of a relay race and that one day she would need to pass the baton forward to the people she mentored. “I feel like [my job] is a contribution that I can make to the world. . . It is up to me actually to keep the train going that someone is going to have to take over where I leave off.”
Live like Laura.
Photos: Sean O’Connor / Storygorge.com