Paul E. Anna: High Points
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
OK, now that “that” is out of the way, we can start looking forward to what we all came here for – ski season.
By “that” I mean, of course, the summer solstice, which came and went at 5:09 p.m. local time Tuesday. No longer is the earth tilting inward on its axis, moving our Northern Hemisphere closer and closer toward the sun each day. Rather, as it has been inclined to do since before the beginning of time, the earth has reversed and is now starting to tilt back the other way.
It may be imperceptible to us in the short run, but by the time it completes this portion of the cycle from summer to the winter solstice on Dec. 21, we will see the sun for five and a half fewer hours than we will today. And, most important, we will have winter.
Why does this happen? Credit either a higher power who created everything and organized it just so. Or blame an explosion that left in its wake a universe and a galaxy that is tidy and orderly to the final degree. You pick ’em. All I know is that once we get past the summer solstice and the days begin to shrivel (today’s sunrise will be a whole minute behind the one on Tuesday, the pow-pow gets closer and closer.
I know, I know … “Everyone’s digging the summer,” you say, and the festivities have just begun. Summer Jazz, Summer Words, Summer Ideas, Summer Music. Yada, yada, yada. I get it. But as we bake away in this driest of all Junes with little relief in sight, I personally have turned one eye toward the opening day of ski season. A day that will be here just a little sooner thanks to the shift of the planet.
Tell me you can’t feel the excitement brewing inside. That chill in the air, the anticipation of the first gondy car that transports you to the top of Ajax, that feeling you get when you buckle your boots and drop the goggles over your eyes as you get ready to tee up the first run of a new ski season.
Don’t get me wrong. I love summer as much as the next guy. But this is a ski town, damn it. And the reason most of us came here originally was because we like to go downhill fast or float freely through powder or bust bumps or glide the glades or twist through the trees. Aspenites are people who were born to ride the boards beneath their feet in the darkest and deepest of snowstorms and under the bluest of skies on especially beautiful bluebird days.
All that chatter about how “I came for the winters but stayed for the summers” is just a way to get through those times when the lifts don’t run and the town becomes overrun with foodies and writers and bureaucrats and musicians. Not that there is anything wrong with them, it’s just that they are mere distractions from the nature of a town that was built for those who carve and crave turns over more mundane pursuits.
Just 154 more days, by my count, before Thanksgiving and opening day arrives. Looking forward to leaning into it.
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