A view with room
When I was a kid, my granddad would sometimes take me out chasing “wild horses” high up on the mountains behind our Woody Creek ranch. He ran a bunch up there for replenishing the ranch herd when needed and, when I was finally old enough to handle my own horse in such rough country without getting in his way, he’d let me come along. Upon getting up the hill a bit, we could look across the valley and see some of the best mountain peaks anywhere in the world: Snowmass Mountain, Capitol Peak, Pyramid Peak, Maroon Bells, Mount Daly. And more. Watching Gramps taught me to smile at such views. Not that many years later, I took a good-looking girl into those same “wild horse” mountains for a little R&R. We had a couple of good horses, plenty of food and wine, and on our first day, took a short ride up the trail to check the view while getting a last glimpse of the setting sun. Not too far above our camp was a pristine, open meadow, very green in the summer and home to a few elk in the fall. My question to her, from our vantage point, looking through a few quaking aspens, was if she didn’t think the meadow was absolutely dazzling? She looked for a minute, then said, “Well, yes,” of course it was beautiful. The only thing missing was some indication of civilization, such as a house in one end of the meadow. (I’ve asked a lot of people the same question, same meadow, over the years, and you’d be surprised how often I’ve gotten a similar response.) A few years later, one of the celebrities from the West Coast showed up in the same neighborhood with a wife that was easy to covet and told me, without missing a beat after our introduction, that the only thing the meadow needed was to be under water, as in one big pond. Boy, you hardly ever see a manmade pond around here, anymore. I began to wonder why so many people seemed to be dependent on having manmade structures or “enhancements” in their view plane to be truly satisfied with “natural” beauty. Maybe such things provide them a certain comfort level, kind of like hanging on to the side of the pool in the deep end before you learn how to swim. Stirred a bit by the above incidents, my sensibilities naturally were further massaged by some of the real estate ads that we see so many times. How often does an ad, extolling the amenities of a lot high on Red Mountain, say there are “drop-dead” views of Aspen Mountain, or of Aspen, itself? Personally, I think it’d be great to live on Red Mountain and not have to look at a mountain denuded of a bunch of its trees; a mountain left to hover, half-naked, over a lineal hodge-podge of civilization directly at its base. I love Aspen Mountain, and as far as towns go, Aspen is pretty darned near the top of the heap; but you know, the hand of man is so evident in almost any view you choose.There seems to be a wave of advertising that offers the “seclusion” of living somewhere that has a view of town, or at least some semblance of being close to town, such as the nighttime glow of the “city lights.” One ad even mentions a “wilderness cabin.” What’s that, but an oxymoron.We’re just a funny lot, I guess. When I show first-time visitors around on Aspen Mountain, I like to stop at the top of Snow Bowl and give them a winter view of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. For the most part, they are thrilled to see the town as they imagine an eagle does; some like to pick out where they’re staying. The one thing they are most impressed with is the airport. The least mentioned; uh, what’s that big mountain over there, oh, you mean Mount Sopris?Like Gramps might do, I just smile and lead ’em down the trail. Tony Vagneur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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