David Krause: Feeling of community starts to return with Snowmass’s trashy event
Last week marked three years that we have lived in Snowmass, and another spring during which I met a few more fellow Villagers while talking trash … litter-ally. Snowmass’s annual Town Cleanup Day makes picking up other people’s trash tolerable, but this year it was more about community and less about waste.
For the first time in a long while, a community gathered Friday, filled with a sense of normalcy on the quietest of offseason days.
While the chore at hand was picking up other people’s idiocy, it felt far from that as folks checked in and then huddled hours later in the rain for a celebratory lunch after another successful beautification effort in Snowmass Village.
As the rain rolled in late Friday morning, a troupe of trash haulers and Village staff gathered at the Town Park gazebo. Raffle ticket numbers yelled out, people grabbing a premade sandwich (can’t shake the grab-and-go just yet), and all of us reached into the same coolers to fish around for a cold water or soda. Familiar signs of community, something seen in 39 previous editions of Cleanup Day before the 40th annual cleanup in 2020 went the spread-out, socially distant route.
People didn’t seem to mind the rain or congregating without masks because we finally had a guilt-free gathering — a welcome return after 15 months of distancing.
Last summer, as Aspen Skiing Co. put in the new Big Burn lift, I took a four-hour Saturday morning stroll from our place to the top and walked straight up the Burn chair line. It was my 2020 edition of the amended Cleanup Day. I became more obsessed with each piece of trash, and by the time I made it to the top of the new bullwheel, I had filled my daypack with junk dropped from the lift.
This year, my group assignment was picking up trash along Highline Road (the other part of the group took the single-track trail). I have to say the 1.3-mile stretch of road from the roundabout to the Owl Creek intersection is my new baby. Kind of like when Kramer adopted part of the Arthur Burghardt Expressway but way, way prettier. Not to worry, I won’t be filling potholes or repainting the lanes.
Over the course of two hours Friday, I came to appreciate that sweet stretch of asphalt running along the marsh and golf course. Given where we live, I don’t use that road very often during the year, but it is my favorite part of the Snowmass golf course.
To that end, I did find two severely shanked golf balls across the road. One was a Kirkland brand, so that explains that. But those are pretty solid misses from any of those tee boxes below the road (and I’m a lefty, so that stretch tempts my shanks).
We’re blessed we live in an area where picking up our roadside trash is down to cigarette butts and foam packaging peanuts. But it’s frustrating that with everything we know about wildfire causes, there were so many butts tossed out the window.
As soon as you pick up the first one, you commit internally to get them all. It’s hard to turn off that part of the brain. I stopped counting after about three dozen butts. Smokers, please, keep your butts to yourself.
And a reminder for those who think fruit peels are not trash: Guess what? They are. The local wildlife doesn’t want them; orange and banana peels are not “native” to the area. And if you feel the urge to opt for roadside composting, at least take off the Chiquita sticker. Those blue-and-yellow babies won’t decompose for a few years.
While it’s a remote stretch of road, I found only three masks as 2020 souvenirs … and only one was a designer version, sporting an American flag.
The standard glass flask of Fireball, a couple of plastic shooters and a variety of beer and energy drink cans were in the gully.
The most puzzling thing about my cleanup, though, was finding one piece to a puzzle. Man, that has to be frustrating for someone at home with 999 pieces fit together.
As our mountain communities continue to grow, here’s to hoping that those who come become part of the community, not just part of the crowd who escaped the urban life.
Sure, we had our hoards at the lift corrals, and people have been roaming about the Village. But on Friday, a Village gathered. A community returned. See you on Fanny Hill, Snowmass.
David Krause is the editor of the Aspen Times and was lucky enough to buy a condo in Snowmass Village where and his wife have become empty-nesters.
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