Lum: Wither the weather?
It was late August 1964 when we first arrived in Aspen. The weather was glorious and it rained every afternoon around 3 o’clock — just one big splash and then the sun came back out.
Burt was hired as an English teacher in the high school at what is now the Red Brick. I got a job at Aspen Skiing Co. as secretary to Jim Snobble, Buzz Bainbridge and Curt Chase, where McDonald’s is now.
We rented a place in Woody Creek, foolishly bought two horses, and a week before Thanksgiving the trees were all a brilliant gold and it was still riding weather. Aspen was supposed to be a ski town, but where was the snow? Whomp. Just in time, almost two feet fell, turning Aspen into a wonderland.
Was this perfect weather or what? The seasons knew their place and delivered right on the dot. Or so it seemed. Come April, the lifts closed, both the horses were pregnant, I was due to deliver our second daughter in May, and just as I was expecting spring to burst out, a blizzard hit, dropping 36 inches of snow in 24 hours and Rio — one of the mares — dropped her foal and had to be led the long walk (the filly over Burt’s shoulders) through the howling storm to be deposited in our attached garage — a crib for the baby in the form of a mattress on the floor.
So that was the first winter, which successfully disabused me of any notions of predicting the weather. The ensuing 50 winters (and summers and springs and autumns) did nothing to bring any rhyme or reason to the seasons.
There were long winters and short winters, warm winters and frigid winters. There were wet summers and drought summers, hot summers and cool summers. There was a spring when it rained every day in May and when the sun finally peeked out we all rushed out of The Aspen Times building to cheer it.
There was a winter when it didn’t snow at all to speak of, scaring the crap out of every businessperson in town, but it turned out not so bad and many of us remember it fondly.
There were other winters where it snowed so much we could barely move around town. We wore flags at the top of our car antennas so oncoming traffic (such as it was) could see us rounding the mountains of snow piled on the street corners.
There were at least two summers when the Fourth of July fireworks were canceled due to snow and more that were canceled due to drought and fire danger.
There was a summer when the Roaring Fork River ran dry and a winter when my house looked like the cave of a burrowing animal and I had to keep a claw-hammer inside to hack my way through the ice to get out my front door.
I remember a Christmas Day when it was teaming rain — I had to slog over to Glenrose Drug (now Polo), stepping in a gutter clear over my boots.
I remember an August afternoon at the old house on Hopkins, trying to salvage my little garden during a whipping snow and sleet storm that ripped the plastic sheets out of my hands and sent them flying down the street while I grabbed at peas and green beans with icy fingers.
Even the autumns varied, with some being a leaf-peeper’s delight while others suffered from early snowstorms that whacked off the aspen leaves before they had a chance to change color.
And then there was the great New Jersey blizzard of 1947.
Su Lum is a longtime local who can’t stop if she gets wound up. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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