Princess: The cool winds of welcome change | AspenTimes.com

Princess: The cool winds of welcome change

I have a confession to make.

I know this is going to be right up there with saying you don't like animals or that the gluten-free craze is a bunch of B.S. or you think someone's baby is ugly. But the truth is the truth and to be honest with you, I don't really like summer.

It's just that I'm more of a winter animal, you see, and that is always made evident to me in the late fall when I feel like I'm finally coming back to life. Summer is too hot and too crowded and while I know everyone just looooves daylight saving time because they can get their third workout of the day in before (god forbid) actually having to eat a real meal, I don't prefer the long days.

I love when night envelops the sky and it's OK to stop working and to not workout and to maybe lay on the couch and flip on the Food Network and watch Guy Fieri talk about all these greasy-spoon places on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" that are fun to see on TV because you would never want to actually eat there.

Not loving summer happens to me at an anatomical level. It's like an animal thing. It's the same reason I'm no good in the tropics. The closer I get to the equator, the more bloated I become, the frizzier my hair gets and I get this random rash on the tops of my feet. Plus, I'm like a mosquito magnet and have never been able to resist scratching my bug bites until they bleed.

Obviously it's not the same in our arid climate, though I gotta tell you, living next to a river is different than living in the high alpine. We do have mosquitos, plenty of them. And they're mean and they're relentless and they will bite you, more than once, even if the Citronella candle is burning. We also have a little wasp problem so Ryan got really obsessed with that and hung these disgusting yellow-jacket traps from all the trees on our patio, which are essentially bags of goopy, sticky stuff that the wasps fly into and die. So instead of cute tea lights or lanterns or birdhouses, our porch is decorated with bags filled with dead bees that are sort of still squirming around like they're fighting for that last moment of precious life.

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Our house faces directly east/west so the afternoon sun literally bakes the house from about 3 p.m. until sunset, the residual heat steaming our living room so we have to take cold showers and then lay on the couch with all of our limbs hanging off and our cheeks all hot, not touching. I do realize that a swamp cooler or even an air-conditioning unit could solve some of these problems, but by the time one of us gets paid and can actually consider buying one, the heat wave is always already over.

It's really not so much about not liking summer as it is about loving fall as much as I do. And the reason I love fall is because it lets me know that winter is on its way and that, my friends, is when I'm at my best. I'm like a bear coming out of hibernation, or maybe even a penguin, all thick through the middle with short limbs, small hands and feet. I was totally built for the cold.

It's also when I'm the strongest, because hiking the Bowl never feels like a workout but a pilgrimage to my happy place, and one that I can make several times a week if I want to. And nothing feels better after a hard day on the hill than a hot yoga class, when 90 minutes of sweaty hell turns into a nice little self-massage where I can warm my bones and stretch my limbs and maybe even have an epiphany or two, if I'm lucky.

This fall in particular has been an unusual one, with its late arrival and unconventional colors, popping more oranges and reds as the trees struggle with what to do with so much moisture, first in the form of rain and then snow — and a lot of it. What's been particularly spectacular is that contrast of color and mood when two seasons meet, the way the snow creates just the right amount of contrast against the leaves only to be cradled by a deep blue sky. There are these moments of beauty that are so profound that just seeing it with your eyes doesn't feel like enough, like you wish you could eat it or drink it or somehow absorb it into your soul. Because it's so fleeting — but that's precisely what makes it truly beautiful.

And now, as the cold nights start to send the leaves to their final resting place, I love that starkness, the branches starting to show through as the trees reveal their nakedness. I love that at my house because now I can see the river, sparkling in the sun, meandering its way to the confluence where the Frying Pan and the Roaring Fork meet, carrying with it some kind of sparkling, unknowable wisdom.

And this is also the time of year when I become more inspired, when things that caused me much angst lose their stranglehold, finally giving way to clarity. Like just the other day I realized hope can be addictive and dangerous. That it makes more sense to accept and embrace the outcome of those situations over which you have no control. And with that realization I found an inner calm I don't think I've ever experienced in my whole entire neurotic little life.

They say spring is the time of renewal, but not for me. Winter is when I am reborn every year, especially once I have my snowboard strapped to my feet.

The Princess is counting the days until the lifts open. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.

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