It may be a ghost town, but on the first day of October 2005, Ashcroft repopulated itself with 150 or so on an Aspen afternoon that the travelogues can only attempt to describe.This was the day that my little girl finally concluded her break from our home in Cincinnati. It had commenced half a score and seven years ago when she went forth across this great continent with a new notion she had conceived to liberate her, dedicated to the proposition that no college in Ohio was created equal.My mind wanders from the indescribable beauty of the golden mountainside and lovely field on a perfect day in Aspen to that promise, "Daddy, if I get a job in Colorado next summer will you take to me look at colleges?""Of course, May," came all too quickly. Sure enough, after two months as a camp counselor near Denver, there we were, visiting every single corner and college campus of the great state of Colorado. After four and a half years at CU-Boulder, she was off to Aspen. And she has never left. Of course, there was a sabbatical to Chamonix, holidays spent with us in Ohio, plus other family events, graduations and visits with her brothers and sisters, but she has never left her new home. Last night was the final seal with the space capsule door shut and mission control in countdown.The coop has been flown and now she belongs to Colorado. Of course, we knew this was coming, but still, that phone conversation after the engagement: "Well, Daddy and Mommy, I'll be getting married outdoors in Aspen. I'm going to take care of it all myself. I have everything under control.""Well, May, what about a church? We've seen several attractive ones on our trips to visit you.""Don't worry, guys I've got it all handled. There's a ghost town nearby and I thought I'd ask the sheriff to be our officiant.""What did you say, May?" cried out her startled mother.I, personally, was speechless. Then, "Oh, Daddy, I'll send you a budget." I could not manage to talk. "Love you, bye," and she was off.
That was not even a year ago, and here I am, in a tuxedo, thankfully not Steve Martin blue, with my lovely daughter on my arm. Wearing an extraordinary gown that trails along a path of Aspen leaves, she looks more radiant and happy than I could ever remember. Friends and people I have never met, including the world's most enormous law enforcement official, and even musicians from the Aspen Summer Festival, wait for me to give my daughter away.The rest was just a blur, complete with a walk down the aisle and, following instructions from the wedding planner, countless "Smile for the cameras." Then the bride and groom were off in a gold Cutlass Supreme convertible driven by usher Clay Lowery. The chauffeur delivered the newlyweds to the Pine Creek Cookhouse reception in a maneuver known as a "doughnut" in the parking lot that left all talking about it through the evening. A world-class restaurateur and film producer, proprietor John Wilcox was everywhere and at one point confided that this was the largest event ever at his culinary palace. I was again rendered speechless. Before the dinner of several courses and choices at every turn, missing only two turtle doves and six lords a'leaping as far as I could determine, there were appetizers consisting of shrimp the size of trout you would catch and keep and lamb chops by the dozen, but nary a carrot stick or piece of cut celery on any tray. Guests in numbers too great to ignore politely remarked they had never been to a wedding where they got to choose from the menu. When Ron Ivory and his Miles Apart Band raved about everything, the father of the bride knew the best course of action was just to enjoy the moment. It went by all too fast as it was, and May really did have everything handled.