A late-summer affirmation | AspenTimes.com

A late-summer affirmation

Todd Hartley

Did you ever wake up one day and come to the sudden, shocking revelation that summer is almost gone?I mean, there you were, just thinking that your golf game was finally coming around, and you look up and the aspens are turning yellow and the season’s practically over.All right, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but if you’ll check your calendars, you’ll see that August seems to have come a bit early this year. If you’re anything like me, you probably still thought it was June.By this time last year I’d summited Mounts Sherman and Yale and climbed Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre peaks in one thigh-burning day. That’s a fair summer’s work for a couch potato like me, so I was pretty excited coming into this summer. I felt like I could really get something accomplished. I was going to have a huge summer, even better than last year.I was going to climb at least one fourteener every weekend and play every round of golf in the 70s. I was going to get in the best shape of my life. I was, for the first time ever despite repeated New Year’s resolutions, going to see my stomach muscles.So what have I done so far this summer? A lone hike to American Lake and a handful of rounds of shabby golf.Oh, it wasn’t entirely my fault. Somewhere back in what I thought was the early spring, but in retrospect was probably late May, I did something very wrong to my back while playing golf and was sidelined for a spell.On what should have been my last full swing of the afternoon, I skulled a 9-iron approach shot on the ninth hole at the Aspen municipal golf course. The ball rocketed over the green and down the steep slope beyond.I had just ruined a great drive, so in disgust I threw down another ball to take a practice shot. This time I caught the ball cleanly and found the green, but during the swing something gave way in my lower back.I finished out the hole (ironically enough making par anyway), but I knew something was wrong. I figured I’d go home and sleep on it and see how it felt in the morning and take things from there.In the morning I was crooked.My legs seemed to come up from the ground straight enough, but from there my whole torso was pitched to the left, and there was a visible kink near the bottom of my spine. Try as I might I couldn’t stand up straight.I spent two weeks passing my free time on the couch and another month and a half afraid of golf (or, in one case, too drunk to remember his tee time) and unable to bear hikes of any length. I was confined to a life of work, troubled sleep and what entertainment I could find in town.Naturally, this being Aspen, I found plenty.One great excuse to drink after another came rolling my way. First there was the Food & Wine Classic, at which I “volunteer” each year. Then it was the jazz fest in Rio Grande Park. A longtime friend got married in town over the July Fourth weekend and summoned the drinkingest crew I know to Aspen for the party. Then there was my birthday, which lasted a weekend. To top things off, I spent last weekend in Minneapolis at another wedding, polishing off more vodka and wine than I care to admit.Nothing like booze to help the idle hours and months fly by.Anyway, numerous trips to the bottle, two visits to a chiropractor and one session with a physical therapist later, my back is feeling pretty good and I’m out of good excuses to party. I am ready to get my summer started.But it’s August already, isn’t it? June and July must have taken the year off.That’s OK, though. There’s still plenty of time to have a big summer. I can finish strong. I can climb a fourteener every weekend, just like I planned. I can still shoot a round of golf in the 70s.And I’m ready to do it, too. I’m motivated, and I’m physically sound, and I’ve got no more good excuses to keep drinking.That is, of course, unless the Labor Day concerts come a little early.Todd Hartley is good enough. He’s smart enough, and doggone it, his family likes him, he thinks. His column runs on Fridays in The Aspen Times. E-mail at todd@aspentimes.com

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