Aspen Untucked: There’s No Place Like Home
Hello. Hey. Hi. It’s me again. Cassius.
After what was surely a full year stuffed in the back of a truck, being transported from new home to new home, it seems that my parents have finally gotten something right: We are back in Aspen.
It happened quickly, and I wasn’t expecting it. I was just in the backseat of the vehicle minding my own business, while also plotting the best way steal my parents’ beef jerky, when we turned a corner. It was probably the millionth turn we had made that day, but suddenly my mother and father were very excited. They rolled the windows down and looked at me excitedly. I stuck my head out and sniffed. My tail went straight up and began to wag wildly. I knew right away where we were. That fresh, thin alpine air was unmistakable. We had returned to Aspen.
I’ve considered myself an Aspen pup for about 16 dog years. However, it wasn’t always this way. My three brothers, one sister and myself came from humble beginnings. We were born in a place called Chinle, Arizona. I’m not sure what that place was or why we were there, but we were constantly referred to as “res pups.” I can recall the day we were taken from Chinle and driven far, far away. We were all placed in a big kennel in the back of a car. My brothers wouldn’t stop picking on me that day. They were always bigger and thought they were in charge. Anyway, we arrived at a boarding facility in a place that all of the humans referred to as Aspen. I remember sniffing that fresh air for the first time and knowing that things were looking up.
Soon after arriving in town, I found a new pack to call my own. I was adopted by a mother and a father who thought every move I made was the cutest thing they had ever seen. Life was good. We went on long walks and tall hikes. Sometimes we even frolicked in lakes or paddle boarded on rivers, even going over some rapids (my dad insists this is fun; I’m not quite sold). There were plenty of other dogs to meet and butts to smell. Plus, I was given a nice, fluffy bed and my own furnished kennel. The meals weren’t bad either. They usually came with a side of bone marrow or some meaty table scraps. I had moved up in the world. I knew it, and I planned to take full advantage.
But then, right when I was starting to settle into my surroundings, they were taken from me. My parents shoved me and my fluffy bed into the back of a car. Sure, I had unlimited amounts of treats and all my toys, but still, it was horrible; scarring, really. My mother and father drove away from Aspen and off on some strange adventure. They seemed excited so I tried to ignore my instincts and go along with it.
We went from new place to new place, spending what felt like days in the car to get to each destination. Everywhere we went I looked at them hopefully, asking “Is this our new home?” and “Where are the mountains?” and “What happened to my bone marrow?” They never seem to understand when I inquire about important things. We went all over the place, but no matter where we landed, nothing ever pleased them for long. Once I had thoroughly sniffed out our new dwellings and left my mark on each tree on the block, we would pick up and leave.
The three of us jumped around constantly, as if it was for fun or something. I guess it was OK at times. They took me to a huge lake that had these gigantic waves, and the water tasted salty. Each stop had dozens of new plants to smell and interesting pups to meet. Sure, it was bearable. But it was no Aspen.
I was beginning to think my parents’ shenanigans would continue forever, that my new home existed in the back seat of their Chevy with little to no bone marrow to speak of. I had nearly surrendered to my new fate when, just then, my parents rolled down that window, and the Aspen air filled the car. We were home. All was well in the world again.
On this long journey, I learned a few things. First off, dogs that can fit in their owners’ handbags are not to be trusted. Secondly, constant travel can cause painful constipation. Thirdly, ducks with long necks fight back. Approach them with caution. And, no matter how good the adventure is, coming back home to Aspen is always the best part.
Gotta go. Those deer won’t chase themselves.
If it’s not obvious from this column, Cassius is beyond thrilled to be home. To reach his mother, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Many locations on Basalt Mountain were barren as recently as two months ago. However, nutrients unlocked during the Lake Christine Fire and a wet winter have sparked a remarkable recovery. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is leading fire ecology tours to discuss the changes.