Just the other day, I had a shortness of breath and started to have what felt like a panic attack. It seemed as if the summer was slowly getting away from me. You know what the real problem with Aspen is? There’s way too much stuff to do. It’s a hollow, sinking feeling that you’re missing out because you’re always too busy.
Summer here has turned into what I like to call “event-a-palooza.” Every single weekend there’s something going on that makes it difficult to decide what to do. Often, the events are double, sometimes even triple booked. It falls into the category of happy problems, but when is it all too much?
Summertime in Aspen shows just what a bunch of whiners we really are. Don’t look now, but I’m complaining about people who complain! The two biggest complaints are that it’s hot and it’s crowded. To these two common observations that I find extremely amusing, I would recommend a quick trip to Cairo, Egypt. That place in the summer is actually hot and crowded. The next complaint on the horizon will soon be that there’s too much rain. We need it right now. Have you seen the river? It’s pathetic.
For those less adventurous, a quick 12-hour drive to Phoenix, Ariz. should be a good lesson in what’s really hot and crowded. Try being a baggage handler for a day out on the tarmac of Sky Harbor Airport, then sitting in traffic on I-10 for an hour in a van without air conditioning. That should be a good attitude adjuster. As for the complaining that it’s hot in Aspen — it’s hard to speak to that since it doesn’t actually get hot here. Personally, I find the cold temperatures in the winter more oppressive.
There needs to be a major attitudinal paradigm shift in our views about traffic here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Instead of complaining about it, we need to start embracing it and actually celebrating it — dignify it with its own month in July. That’s right; celebrate traffic and everything it stands for. Settle into it, wave to fellow motorists and practice senseless acts of letting others merge in front of you. Take comfort in being tailgated. Cheer on those single-occupant vehicles that speed right by you in the bus lane while talking on the phone; their jobs are more important than yours. Be happy for them!
Traffic: if you’re sitting in it, you’re either making money, or spending money. And just for the record, I drive over 10,000 miles a year locally, so I’m not by any means immune to, or somehow above, the perceived horrible traffic situation. It’s surprisingly survivable.
I’ve always thought it would be helpful to have one of those CDOT traffic message boards on the side of the highway out by Buttermilk to let people know what the estimated wait time is into town, with an added bonus feature — a dollar counter to let people sitting in traffic know how much money is being made each day.
Summer in Aspen comes fast and furious. It seems like it can be over before you know it. As of right now, from where I’m sitting it’s already halfway over. Summer has always been from June 1 to Aug. 30; fall from Sept. 1 until the lifts open; winter from Thanksgiving until the lifts close, and spring from the last chairlift ride until May 31.
One thing you never hear people say is that the winter is going too fast. Sure, you hear people commiserating that they aren’t skiing enough, but those are largely personal-choice problems. Summer on the other hand seems as though the time is more precious, more fleeting. Some people actually like the summers here more than winter — traitors!
With all of the events and things to do in Aspen in the summer, a strong case can be made for the Italian phrase “Il bel far niente,” which means the beauty and art of doing nothing. It’s an interesting concept that is largely lost on Americans, and hyperactive event-obsessed Aspenites in particular. It’s an exercise in humility, enjoyment and relaxation. One wonders if it is even economically feasible to dare entertain the notion of coming to Aspen and simply relaxing.
I don’t know what exactly it is about Aspen and summertime, but every year I get the uneasy feeling that the summer is escaping me — then something sobering happened the other day while out riding my bike: I saw a yellow tree, a couple of them actually. You know what that means — right? Only 129 days till ski season. Woo-hoo!
To reach Lorenzo, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.