Platts: Magic in the Air
December 13, 2015
A week or so ago, I heard an interesting story from a friend. She's a reporter for a radio station in the valley and a while back she interviewed a rather eccentric character at El Jebowl bowling alley. He was a regular there and during the interview, in between swigs of beer, he told my friend something that has stuck with her ever since. He said: "There's a lot of magic in this valley and, if you're lucky enough, you might just fall upon it."
She joked that he almost looked like Santa Claus and as he said this there was snow falling outside, adding the perfect touch to his statement.
Her story stuck with me this past week as restaurants opened for business, stores primed new beautiful window displays and skiers dawned their newest outerwear for a few bluebird days in a row on Ajax. In anticipation for the crowds and the holidays, a vibrant energy hung in the air that was palpable to all. So much so that I found myself reciting the inebriated bowler's quote in my head. Perhaps he is on to something. Not the kind of magic in the movies that involves fairies (though we do have a fair amount of those come mid-January) or frightening witches, but the kind that involves champagne powder and views that never get old no matter how long you stare. This is the kind of place that has you at hello pretty much every time.
Some credit the "magic" of the area to the Ute Indians who inhabited this land far before the silver boom. Legend has it that Chief Ouray, who led his tribe away from the valley in the 1800s when the white man took over, put a curse on the land. The specifics of the curse vary depending on whom you chat with, but essentially Ouray said if you choose to come here, you stay here. Maybe that's the reason that every resident's story starts with "Well, I came out for a season and then…"
However, this story is told in many Colorado towns. Growing up in Boulder there was talk of a similar curse, only Chief Niwot bestowed one on that area. Whether you believe in these curse-heavy stories or not, there is a strange power that the Roaring Fork Valley holds over people. I suppose a more logical explanation for this power could have to do with the fact that we live in a place with endless skiing, beautiful people, luxurious happenings, a solid community, a unique balance between body, mind and spirit, and a visit from the Kardashians at least once a year. Obviously, Aspen is addictive in its own right. But to each their own.
There are plenty of moments in Aspen where the quote from our bowling friend rings true. For me, it made perfect sense on Sunday night when locals gathered on Main Street by the Sardy House to watch the tree lighting (fun fact: The tree in the front yard is the tallest decorated living tree in North America). Hot chocolate and holiday cookies were enjoyed while carolers sang about how there was no place quite like Aspen during the holidays. Santa and Mrs. Claus consulted with many young folk on what they hoped to unwrap the morning of Dec. 25 and locals chatted with one another. I originally went out to the lighting with a group of friends to support our buddy who was taking on the role of Santa Claus. But as I was out there in the brisk night, watching kids run around in a state of pure joy, I realized, quite clearly, that I had become a victim of Chief Ouray's curse. And I was entirely fine with it.
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In my three years here, I have no doubt that I've stumbled upon a great deal of magic that this community has to offer. The friendships I've made here will continue for decades, the memories will always be held dearly and the quality of life will forever be bragged about to all my friends and family. According to Chief Ouray, I have plenty more time here, and I have no complaints about that.
Without sounding too cheesy, I hope you feel some of the Roaring Fork Valley's magic this holiday season. Check out the Sardy House Christmas tree in the evening, take up caroling with the Aspen Historical Society Dec. 22, take a jaunt down the Hyman Avenue mall to admire the decorations and join the town for the various activities in 12 Days of Aspen from Dec. 20 to 31.
And if you're still not feeling it…maybe take up drunken bowling?
Barbara would like to make it clear that she was joking about the Kardashians. She meant it as sarcasm and in no way actually believes they are part of Aspen's magic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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