Su Lum: A year in a day
May 29, 2002
Last Friday, I woke up early in the morning and poked my head out of my bedroom window to see what the weather was up to. To my delight, especially because we so desperately need it at this droughty time, a sweet rain was falling. The air smelled strongly of spring and robins were bobbing for worms on the lawn, plucking their stretchy bodies out of the damp earth.
I stood at the window for a long time, just breathing it all in and then – not being one to overdo such things – pulled down the shade and went back to bed. I had the day off, and could do whatever I wanted to do, and at that moment I wanted to turn on NPR, cuddle up under my down comforter and doze.
A few hours later I opened my eyes and felt surrounded by an incredible stillness. I went to the window, snapped up the shade, and saw that it was snowing – one of those soft, early autumn, first-of-the-season snows with big, silent wet flakes. The ground was already covered, and the branches of the bushes outside my window were sagging under the weight. I put my hand out the window to catch the snow, and brought the furry whiteness to my lips.
At noon, I bundled up to go to the post office and pick up the newspapers, expecting cold, but the sun was already blazing in the sky, and by the time I got back home all the snow had melted and it was HOT. It was summer! In a sweat, I changed into lighter clothes, and, after lunch, decided to drive up the pass.
The road over Independence Pass had just opened the day before. I love the drive itself, and there is something about the pass being open that is so liberating after being trapped for six months with only one road out. Never mind that I only take advantage of it three or four times a year, it’s the IDEA of it: the pass, at last, is OPEN!
Only a few cars were on the road that day; I just kept going, higher and higher where the morning’s snow, long melted down below, still hung on the trees and covered the ground.
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Once I drove a newcomer up the pass, who asked, with the forest deep on both sides, “How do you know when you get to the top?”
“You’ll know it, all right,” I said. You know it, all right, when the trees disappear and you arrive at the top of the world.
By the time I got to the last, long climb – the road you can’t believe is really a road when you look at it from down below – where there is no escape from flying boulders despite the reassuring “Caution: Falling Rocks” signs, as if you could take part in determining your destiny, it was snowing hard. There were big patches of icy snow on the road (“icy in spots” as the highway reports say) just below the summit. I had driven straight into winter.
I sat in the car at the top with the heater cranked and the windshield wipers swiping at the snow, the wind howling outside, thinking that this was a perfect Aspen day, a day of all seasons, holding nothing back. Blam: spring, blam: fall, blam: summer, blam: winter. I am nature, hear me roar! The only thing missing was the golden aspen leaves.
I savored the moment. I love you, Aspen. I love you, I love you. I love the rain, I love the snow, I love the wind, I love the sun, I love the trees, I love the birds, I love the worms, I love the mountains, I love the rivers, I love the heights, I love the valleys.
Paradise. I live in paradise.
Back at the bottom, the sun had receded, the air was cooler, and it was spring again – the seasons had come around full circle.
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