Now wither the weather?
November 27, 2007
My first autumn in Aspen, in 1964, was gloriously golden and balmy until a few days before Thanksgiving, when we had a huge snow dump, the lifts opened, and everyone flew little flags on their radio antennae so we could see one another coming around the mountains the plows left at the street corners.
Right after the lifts closed, we had 3 feet of snow in 24 hours, and a few weeks later, on May 17, the day my daughter Hillery was born, the leaves came out, and I had the impression that I understood Aspen weather and was now a real local.
According to my understanding, spring arrived on May 17 (which has, with small variations, proven true), it rained briefly but hard every day all summer (true only while I owned an MGB convertible), and it snowed in time for the Thanksgiving opening of the lifts (many times proven false).
I’m not sure what year it was, but it was before 1972, when I was still in “the old house” where Alpine Bank’s parking lot now lies, when it poured rain on Christmas Day. I mean torrents, rivers rushing along the curbs and over my boots as I slogged my way to GlenRose Drug, which is presently, I think, the Polo Ralph Lauren store.
The greatest excitement of all was the great drought of 1976, when we finally got a few flakes around February, by which time the mountains were too cold for any snow to stick to them.
It’s a good thing we didn’t know about global warming back then ” we would have seen the drought as a very ill omen indeed.
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At The Aspen Times, we grew increasingly worried about revenue, and I remember filling my shopping cart with toilet paper and dog food, hoarding while I still had an income, but, as it happened, competition for the depleted pie was quite fierce and advertising was, if anything, up.
After the town got over the initial shock that maybe there really WASN’T going to be any snow that winter, everyone began to roll with it. We had always been fond of our now-scant offseasons, and here we were blessed with an extra one.
Independence Pass stayed open, there was skating on the Twin Lakes and a good time was had by most.
This was back before the days of multibillion-dollar extravaganzas when a lost day can mean lost fortunes, as the nation learned when it shut down after 9/11.
Of course, there was apprehension about the next winter ” would it happen again? But lo, it didn’t, and subsequent winters broke records for the warmest, the coldest, the snowiest, the sunniest and the most average.
I remember the darkest winter, a winter the color of pewter week after week and when the faint glow of the sun appeared we all rushed out of the Times building, bunched up on the sidewalk, gawking at the sky.
What will this year bring? The question mark is rhetorical.
Farmer’s Almanacs, snow dances and, above all, the weather reports aside, you don’t really know what’s coming, or when, until you have to get out the snow shovel. Or not.
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