Falling in and out of love with fall
Fall has always been my favorite time of year – until now.I grew up in rural Connecticut where autumn reigned, that old New England postcard season filled with red barn silos and pumpkins and dried corn arrangements that blended seamlessly with the changing leaves. Foliage accentuated the picture-perfect vintage countryside, with its old colonial architecture, covered bridges and churches with steeples. (Of course ours was the only contemporary house in my neighborhood, but that is another story entirely.) My brother and I would rake huge piles of leaves and jump off the roof of my Dad’s Datsun 280ZX. Or we’d drag the mini-trampoline that came with my mom’s Jane Fonda aerobics tape out to the front lawn and launch big airs off it. We learned the hard way you had to build seriously fat piles of leaves to withstand those bigger landings. More than once I ate my knee when the leaves, thin as paper, dispersed and fluttered around me when I hit the ground with a loud thud. Fall was about soccer practice and going to the mall with my mom to buy new corduroy Levis. It was about fresh maple syrup and apple picking during harvest festivals at our local orchard (I swear I’m not making this up). Everything smelled like sugar and stale dirt, the sweet fruit and dried leaves of my New England childhood. (Too bad John Denver’s not still alive. I could get together with him and write a song about it.)Call it East Coast snobbery or what have you, but at first, Colorado foliage seemed incomplete to me. It was too short, too thin, and way too monochromatic (sort of like my hair after that little drugstore blonde experience). It wasn’t until I spent seven years in the seasonally static San Diego that I came to appreciate the simplistic beauty of an aspen leaf. I used to tape them into my journal and bring them back to California with me, a reminder of change in a place where there was little discrepancy between indoors and out. I periodically found myself forgetting what time of year it was, totally disoriented by holiday party favors I associated with seasons, like Christmas lights on a palm tree and things of that nature.Fall in Aspen has always been my favorite time of year. What ultimately makes it so special is knowing it won’t last for long, so you have to get out there and enjoy every minute of it while you can, like spending time with someone who is about to go away and trying to cherish every moment you have together before he or she leaves.I’ve always loved how the fall colors turn my daily routine from a chore into a pleasure I would liken to watching fireworks or live theater – that here-and-now moment that is so precious you can feel it in your bones. Even driving the gantlet from the ABC into town and back 15 times a day is bearable because the scenery is so electric. It’s kind of like when you eat mushrooms and all of a sudden they start kicking in and everything familiar intensifies to a point where it’s unrecognizable. (At least that’s what my friend told me.)I just loved the whole farmers market scene, the intoxicating smell of roasting peppers and popcorn that wafts up your nostrils and makes you do stupid, inexplicable things like spend $50 on a bottle of balsamic vinegar. Or I’d buy a bar of homemade soap made from stuff soap shouldn’t be made out of, like oatmeal and tumbleweed and dandelions from Carbondale. I’d get my dog those bones at Homestead Meats that were so huge and raw and stinky I’d make him chew on it outside on a towel and try not to gag while he disseminated that poor horse’s knee or whatever animal it was into little bits of ligament shrapnel. A hundred dollars later, I’d come home with my fresh veggies and herbs for salsa that would have cost me five bucks if I just went and bought it at City Market like a normal person. Still, I’d fancy myself a domestic diva when I filled my condo with amazing smells and gorgeous color and those giant flowers that always die in like an hour. I’d plan entire meals around what I bought, with color-coordinated side dishes and peach pies for dessert. (So I’ve never made a pie in my life, but it just sounded so good in that sentence I couldn’t resist.)Well, this year isn’t like that. My best friend, Tim, moved away, and this place feels empty without him. He was the first person I met in Aspen so I have never known this town without him in it. When I sent my résumé to him at The Aspen Times because I wanted to get “in” with the sports editor, I had no idea I’d end up in bed with the sports editor. But sometimes you just trip over your shoelace and end up naked with a green-eyed rogue Boston Irishman who sometimes growls like a grizzly bear in his sleep.Now that he’s gone, I’m just not feeling it. I’m annoyed by how gorgeous it is out. The perfection of these surroundings seems to be mocking me, nagging me with its incessant, flawless beauty like those popular bitchy girls in high school who would lean against their lockers, chew gum, and make a point of ignoring people (OK, so I was the president of that club, but I’m just trying to make a point). If everything around me is so immaculate and beautiful, how can I allow myself to be such a mess?I know it’s a cycle, and life goes on and blah-blah-blah. I just hope I can fall back in love with fall again.The Princess needs a massage. Send your affectionate e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Vignettes of life in the valley. Some you may have heard; hopefully, others will be new.