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Stop spending it so fast

Roger Marolt

It’s no secret. Summers in Aspen are short.Here we are now, the natural grass in Wagner Park is freshly stained with Food & Wine and the shadows are already growing longer. This is my 43rd summer in Aspen and, believe me, I’ve tried everything to make these Rocky Mountain dog days heel. They have yet to obey. Nevertheless, I thought I would share some of the surefire methods I’ve tried that missed. As a kid, summers were too short no matter what. The brief reprieve from the books between school years was like a bad sandwich. Each fall, I found that the new bread was harder and drier than the old and wondered why it was always turkey.I pined for adulthood when I no longer would dread the days of vacation whizzing by. Hah! My first years out of school, I spent the time between the solstices forging a career in the big city. There was no summer. That helped me get my priorities straight and I moved back to Aspen. Once here, my future wife and I spent a summer traveling to weddings almost every weekend. We visited exciting places like Albu-querque and Coleen. We spent lots of time with friends, but more time in the car. We survived on finger food. My head ached so often that I thought it was irreparably cracked. That should have made for an interminably long summer. Nope, it went by faster than a Caribbean honeymoon.Another summer I had it figured out for certain. What is the one thing that could make a summer feel at least as long as winter? Well, snow of course! I headed for Canada and spent weeks in horrendous blizzards on the side of Mt. Logan. During one eight-day stretch of execrable weather, we didn’t so much as stick a finger outside the tent to check the wind direction. I decided then that I couldn’t live without one person, so I passed the time scrawling “Marry Me Susan” on my summit flag. Back home, I presented a picture of that flag on the peak as my proposal. The rest of that summer was spent registering for china and picking wedding cakes. Vacillating between ice and icing like this would seemingly make the months of summer drag on forever. Not a chance. The next thing I knew, it was Dec. 5. Snow was falling in hell (a rarity in Midland, Texas), and the only thing I had wrapped around my finger anymore was a gold band. We spent three summers having babies then. Wouldn’t you think hot nights spent changing diapers and staring at the ceiling while listening to needlessly amplified wailing through a baby monitor would make four months seem like eternity? Forget it. That time passed as quickly as gas after a midnight feeding.Next, I spent all waking hours between May and September on my mountain bike. I got to Labor Day 10 pounds lighter with a resting heart rate of 35, a Leadville 100 belt buckle that weighed more than my bike, and a polyester Ride The Rockies T-shirt for trophies. But, all those pre-dawn mornings of training, all of the time spent riding the back roads to Carbondale, all of the hours spent shaving my legs seemed to take less time than an Aspen Cycling Club board meeting. That summer was as fleeting as a tailwind on the ride up to Maroon Lake. Never giving up, we vowed to hike every weekend the next summer to make the most of our warm months. We did it too. Every Saturday we headed somewhere new. We saw more lakes than a Wisconsin bait salesman working on commission. To no avail, that summer was gone quicker than inhibitions and hiking shorts at Conundrum Hot Springs.Not that all was lost, mind you. These short summers provide us with a bevy of awesome recollections. But none of them is greater than the seconds from which each is comprised. A three-day backpacking trip is no more of a pleasant remembrance than three hours spent huddled around a campfire talking way past bedtime or three minutes watching Big Horn sheep charge across the cliffs above East Snowmass Creek.So, what have I learned from all of this? If you can’t beat time, be in awe as it races by. In memories, all moments are created equal. Accumulate more of them. Don’t spend so much time looking for that special one while casting the others aside. I know now that I can’t make summertime go any slower, so I’m going to go a little slower myself. What are my recommendations? Make it a point to walk barefoot more often. Stop at lemonade stands. Smile at people on the street. Have more cool drinks on hot afternoons in the shade. Chase the kids as dinner sizzles on the grill. Watch blue skies turn into gray clouds until they erupt with streaks of gold. Schedule less so you can do more. Listen for the sun rising and feel the moon move across the sky. Wander and wonder, look closely and marvel. Listen to more stories than you tell, and tell a lot of them. Get drenched in the fragrance of wildflowers and smell the rain. Most of all, count the minutes because they all add up. Even then, by the time the first flakes fly, you may not have accumulated enough memories to keep your bones thawed all the way through the long winter. But, you may gather enough to keep warm between powder days. Roger Marolt knows that the only thing you can spend faster than cash in Aspen is summer. Give him your two cents’ worth at roger@maroltllp.com


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