Another day in paradise
A cell phone rings. Somebody else’s, not yours, and that somebody starts bellowing his oh-so-vital conversation.When that happens, I usually rev up my own thoughts to full throttle to drown out the one-way conversation. On this particular day, I was late to an appointment, crossing Paepcke Park, head down and striding out. Damn, why do people have to speak so loud on cell phones?But this call slowed me down and a smile crept over my face.”Hey! I’m in Aspen. Glorious! Clear blue skies, you could see the snow-capped mountains flying in. God, it’s gorgeous!”I stopped dead in my tracks and looked around.Paepcke Park was gloriously green: new growth on the massive spruce trees that cast pools of shade in the lush grass. Aspen Mountain loomed in the background, the perfect movie backdrop. By God, it was knockout gorgeous.The whole Roaring Fork Valley is over-the-top spectacular. Had I forgotten? Do we become oblivious to beauty when it presents itself daily? Are we so caught up with the working cogs of life that we take our valley’s beauty for granted? We have our jobs, our mortgages, our kids, our obligations. We are late for doctor appointments, getting our tires balanced, paying our parking tickets, snarled in traffic on 82. In our dealings with tourists, we can become hardened carnies, saying over and over again, “Give me your ticket. Fasten your seat belts. Enjoy the ride.”The line for our great Colorado carnival ride is endless. Thousands crowd to ski our great mountains, hear our world-class music, eat and drink the finest at Food and Wine, hear the world’s great minds speak at the Aspen Institute’s Ideas Festival. There’s the Aspen Writers’ Conference, the X Games, World Cup races, jazz concerts, rafting, hiking, fishing.It took this one tourist’s unabashed happiness and a loud cell-phone conversation to make me remember.A man in a T-shirt and flip-flops, obviously savoring the morning sunshine and the spectacular view of Ajax, understood. He was enjoying the hell out of the ride. Stunning. We live in a thriving paradise. I think back to my own vacations, when I’ve traveled to faraway lands, sampled great food, seen historical treasures, stayed in fine hotels. And when at last it’s time to come home, as we fly over the Colorado Rockies, I look down at those snow-capped mountains and smile.And as we land, and I walk out on the tarmac and breathe in that clear mountain air and see the tourists beaming as they gaze around, overjoyed to be in Aspen, I stop and sigh and think, “thank God, I’m home again.”Paula Anna is filling in this week for Paul E. Anna, who is traveling (hopefully in search of some good vision therapy).
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