Lum: Recovery in sight? |

Lum: Recovery in sight?

I know it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel to write a column about something as trivial as a spring cold, especially in the middle of an important local election campaign.

On the other hand, I already shot my wad last week, endorsing Torre, Mick Ireland and Bert Myrin. Betsy Starodoj pointed out that what I had been endorsing as “Amendment 1” is really called Question 1 on the ballot — definitely worth a mention (thanks!) — but it would be difficult to make a whole column out of it.

From some of the letters to the editor, you might think that approval of Question 1 means the eradication of the Aspen Idea of mind, body and spirit and love and happiness. Not so many years ago, it would have been called a communist plot, but all it does is hold the developers’ feet to the fire and insist that they follow existing laws.

To iterate: I’m voting “yes” to Question 1, for Torre for mayor and for Mick Ireland and Bert Myrin for City Council — what more can I say?

Meanwhile, all hell is breaking loose in my head.

When I was in kindergarten, a large sandbox dominated one side of the room. It was long enough for four or five kids per side and wide enough for two or three kids — pretty big. This was 74 years ago, and I still remember the smell and feel of that sand.

I was no stranger to sandboxes — my father had made one in the backyard for my older sister and me, which was even bigger than the one in the kindergarten room, but it was at ground level while the one at school was made for little people standing. The sand in ours was more like dirt, was subject to the weather — heavy and damp when it rained — and held unpleasant surprises such as cat poop because our cats thought that my father had made this outdoor toilet especially for them.

I’ve been thinking about the kindergarten sandbox lately because it’s just like my head feels: A huge excavation site with alien creatures scurrying around, funneling the sweet, soft sand into the cavern in the center, bucket by bucket, packing the sand into every crease and corner until my breath gets shallower and shallower and — final bucket — cut off entirely as I gasp through my mouth to get just enough air to survive the moment.

Jousting events amuse my villagers. Mounted on their armored steeds, they thunder toward each other across the sandy expanse with lances raised. They clash, they knock each other off their saddles, clamber back on and thrust again and again until one accidentally pierces the fragile membrane covering the arena and a river of blood breaks through, sweeping away the contestants, the inhabitants and the horses while I am cursing them all as I roll a piece of paper towel to place between my upper lip and gum to staunch the bloody flow.

We have been having extraordinary rainstorms in the sandbox, real Donner and Blitzen ripsnorters (snort, that’s a joke) when my nose is running like a firehose, threatening to drown every living creature and even sweep away the fish in a deluge that would challenge Noah to a duel. Call that a flood, dude? Get a load of this.

News of an upcoming tornado is spreading from home to home. The backhoes and steam shovels are locked in the barns and small children are whooshed into the storm cellars while the men pound nails into the boards covering the windows and — ah, ahhh, ahhhhhhhhhh choooo! — the kindergarten room is filled with flying debris and I am entertaining the idea of recovery.

Su Lum is a longtime local who survived to vote again. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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