Alison Berkley Margo: The Princess’s Palate
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Guess what. I’m 10 years old, baby!
What I mean is my column is 10 years old. The first-ever “Princess’s Palate” was published on June 18, 2002.
I was super excited about the 10th-anniversary thing. I was gonna try to publish a collection of columns or have T-shirts printed or even launch an Aspen Princess clothing line. I thought, “This is a really big deal.” I’ve never done anything for 10 straight years, at least not in terms of holding on to a job. It’s the longest commitment I’ve ever had, my love affair with Aspen.
So I thought maybe I’d get dolled up and have a big night out on the town. I’d meet up with some friends, make the rounds of the old party circuit, maybe even try to stay awake for last call. I could wear a special outfit and get my eyebrows waxed and my eyelashes tinted and get a fresh pedicure. I’d make the rounds, do my about-town, say hello to everyone who has shown me the love over the years.
I would start with crab cakes and tequila at Jimmy’s and then head over to L’Hostaria for some calamari and lemoncello with Scotty, followed by a Bud and a shot of whiskey at Little Annie’s. Then maybe I’d have the courage to hit up Eric’s and the Regal, even though I’m no longer a Size 2. I’d end the night at New York Pizza, slurping down enough grease to prepare for that inevitable hangover since I am no longer in decent partying shape.
But then the craziest thing happened – June 18 came and went, and I totally forgot.
I spent the day running around with my adorable mother-in-law, who, as disgustingly Freudian as it sounds, reminds me a lot of myself. She is short and has small feet and loves to wear hats and is happiest within the confines of any kind of store. It doesn’t matter what they sell – she gets excited by the mere prospect of buying stuff. I so love that about her.
She can even make Ace Hardware fun. That’s where we started our day, buying garbage cans and toilet brushes for the new house. She got really excited when we found the Meyer’s Aromatherapy cleaning supply aisle, smelling all the different scents, trying to decide which one she liked the best.
Then we went to Eagle Crest Nursery to buy stuff for our garden. I have never planted a single thing in my entire life and seem to have the opposite of a green thumb. Like, I can’t even keep flowers alive for more than a day. Aren’t you just supposed to stick them in a vase with some water? The only thing my mother ever taught me about gardening was how to hire a landscaper.
Now that we have a new house, we also have lots and lots of gardening beds, including two giant ones that are sitting there with nothing but dust, rocks and dirt. If I listen really carefully, I can hear this land weeping, whispering in the wind, “Water me, feed me, bring me back to life!” Plus, it looks pretty ugly just sitting there, like it’s dressed in rags and needs to be dressed and groomed and given a makeover.
So Mimi bought us rose bushes and sunflower seeds and big, stinky bags of organic fertilizer. We got herbs that are already blooming on the vine, stuff like basil, rosemary, and even this amazing pineapple sage, which is like a little sweet and savory party in your nose. We got fat heads of lettuce, arugula, a few tall tomato plants and some other veggies I’m told are easy to grow, stuff like green peppers and zucchini squash. We had so many plants we could barely fit everything in my car. It was like driving in a jungle on wheels, the smell of fertilizer wafting in the breeze. We had to concentrate, just in order not to gag.
We got home and got dirty, so to speak, digging holes and turning soil and raking and watering and planting. We made a little walkway out of the river rocks that are plentiful around our house and put wood chips in and planted the rose bushes and put the oriental lily bulbs in the ground between them.
That was all at the end of a big week of home improvement projects the Margos spearheaded, stuff like painting and organizing and getting our guest apartment dialed in. They drove here all the way from Minnesota with our 8-year old niece MacKenzie to help us, including a stop at Costco that filled our fridge and cupboards with enough food to feed an army. I mean, who gets in-laws like that? Not to gloat, but they’re fun to hang out with, too.
Other activities that distracted me from my oh-so-important day: going to the Basalt pool with Kenzie, which is the coolest and prettiest public pool I have ever seen. I’m not big on public stuff, but when I emailed the Roaring Fork Club about a membership and they told me it was $35,000 just to join, I realized I am the public.
Now that we have room for everyone, my parents came down for a visit too, so we had a full house. I got to entertain with my new kitchen and bust out some of our favorite recipes, like homemade fresh pineapple salsa, coconut fried rice with red and yellow peppers, and Ryan’s expertly seasoned grilled steaks.
None of this involved makeup, shoes other than flip-flops, styled hair, or clothes that were selected for any other reason than sheer comfort.
So the question is, what happens to the Aspen Princess when she leaves Aspen, settles down in Basalt, and spends more time planting herbs than smoking them?
Here’s to a beautiful decade Aspen. I hope you’ll be around for the next chapter.
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