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High Points: Summer person or winter person?

Paul E. Anna
High Points
Maroon Lake and the Bells in the backdrop. | File photo

It is a question that is often asked by people who don’t live here of people who do. “What’s your favorite season?” or some variation of same.

They want to know why you live here and if you pick favorites. Whether you identify as a winter or a summer person. Well, right now it is pretty hard not to be a summer person. I mean, just look around. It has, to date, been an absolutely glorious summer. A touch warm around the edges, especially in the last week or so, but certainly not stifling.

There have been the random afternoon showers, occasional downpours and cooling winds that seemed to have been absent in recent summers. There was maybe one day where we have had a hint of smoke haze in the air, but other than that we have been blessed with crystal clarity just about every day this summer.



This ain’t London. Yes, summer in the Rockies is magnificent. And yet … as I look out my window on any given morning and see the slopes cut into the sides of any of the four ski mountains, I always long for the return of winter. There is just something about this place that looks good dressed up in winter whites. Does that make me a winter person? Probably not. Rather, it just makes me a very fortunate person. As are all of us who get to live in a place where our big conundrum might be having to choose between whether we prefer winters or summers in this paradise we call home. 

Whenever I get asked “the question” by visitors, say if I am sitting at the J Bar, for example, and my seatmate, who is making his or her first trip to Aspen and is seeing it with virgin eyes, wants to know what winter is really like, I pretend to answer it as though I am contemplating it for the first time. Like it was an original inquiry. 




The truth is I first posed that question myself more than 30 years ago to a ski instructor who I was sharing a lift with one winter morning. “What’s your favorite season?” I asked, thinking my query was somewhat original. The ski instructor paused, just I like I do today, and made it seem like it was the first time he had ever considered it.  “Well …” he paused for dramatic effect, “I came for the winters. After all, you can’t beat a morning like today with fresh snow on the greatest ski mountain in the world.”  

He continued, “But the springtime, just when the lifts close and the town gets quiet, and the rivers get big and the first signs of green begins to shine is really special.”

He paused again. “Then there are the summers when the music is playing and the fish are jumping and the days last forever and sunsets are prettier than the sunrises. Those days are pretty good. And fall, have you ever seen the Aspen leaves when they turn to gold? It’s like nothing else. Yeah, I guess you could say those are my favorite seasons here.”   

I’ve never forgotten that dose of local wisdom and have repeated the story, or some variation of it, many times in response to the question. I’m neither a summer person nor a winter person. Call me a seasonalist.

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