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Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Warning: This column is one of those that pays homage to our own. If you can’t stand the idea of a little self-congratulations you can turn the page right now. Or if you need to, you can go ahead and check the live music schedule … it’s on the facing page.

It’s off-season, and in resort towns that means the newspapers get pretty thin. Fewer people in town equals fewer advertising pages. For some that may be a blessing. After all, if you don’t like what’s in the papers, fewer pages is a plus, right?

But for me, the fall papers are a joy. For some reason it seems that every year I get a new perspective on just how good a newspaper town we have. Maybe it’s the fact that there is less fat and more meat on the local rags this time of year, but it just seems I pay more attention to the words and columns of Lum, Berkley, Guenin, Gardner, Marolt, Smith, and yes, occasionally, even Hartley, in the fall than I do at other times.

For some reason it seems that the stories are crisper, better written and more personal. Maybe it’s because the temper of the times changes. Maybe it is because, instead of feeling the heat of an on- season rush when everyone has other things to do, people can spend a little more time putting their thoughts down. Perhaps it is because the political and football seasons inspire us.

I don’t know, but there has been some terrific stuff to gnaw on recently.

My favorites each week are the stories penned ” and they sound like they are literally written by hand rather than on a keyboard (if they are not please don’t spoil the fantasy) ” by Tony Vagneur in his Saddle Sore column. Last Saturday we got from the opening line:

“As far as working dogs go, he didn’t look like much, lying there in the middle of the cattle trail, but by the same token, with black and white hair glistening in the late morning sun, he was about as beautiful as a canine can get.”

The column told of a day when Tony lost the pooch while on a ride. It was captivating, and it took me to the point where I could not only feel his desperation to find the dog but his sad resignation when it looked like it was the end of the line for the treasured companion. Then, resolution: Owner and dog were reunited. It was 1,000 words or so of emotion. Well written. Heartfelt.

Just a great column.

While I could give a whip about Meredith Carroll’s love life, I was touched by her story that was an ode to the love she feels for her husband now that they have a child. It was a personal, open love letter, if you will. Again, well written, it seemed to me to be the kind of column one would write in this, the most beautiful of all seasons.

Perhaps the best read of the week, because it is such a great story, is the three-part series written by Mike Tierney about his adventures on the island of Maui, where he rode his unicycle up the side of the 10,023-foot Haleakala volcano. It was a dream realized, and the series takes us through, step-by-step, switchback-by-switchback, his quest to reach the peak. Great stuff. If you have missed the first two installments, go to aspentimes.com and be sure to catch the final installment tomorrow.

And as far as capturing the feeling of the current fall, Andy Stone has been spot-on recently. His politics may annoy you, but the way he crafts his columns, combined with his passion and his research, make compelling reads with solid points of view. This week’s worrisome look at the presidential campaign was chilling and sounded an alarm, perhaps one that should be heard beyond this valley, about the dangers of attack politics.

But enough about us. Columns are written for readers. I just hope that you get something out of the efforts of those who spend their time and their talents writing and putting these things out.

Even if it is just the entertainment listings.


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