Sean Beckwith: Do you hear that?
Today we’re focusing on happy thoughts. (Don’t you do this to me. You can’t suppress me forever.) After a sluggish start to the winter season, Ullr has blessed us with a bountiful few weeks of snow. (Up until three weeks ago it felt like mid-November, you nitwit. Sluggish is not the right word. Abysmal. Say it was abysmal.) On top of that, there seems to be an end to the pandemic formulating. (End?! Are you kidding me? I hope you gag on an N-95 mask this time next year, because you’re still going to be wearing one.)
I know it’s difficult right now to stay positive, but that’s the most any of us can do. (How many times have you pondered jumping off a chairlift this season? Like a minimum of five.) I’ve found that if I distract myself with tasks or deep dives — think all the animated “Star Wars” series on Disney Plus, making your own apple butter or hot sauce, watching/rewatching any and all cooking shows — it just feels like another ski season. (I don’t know whether to make fun of you for being a nerd or for coining the term “Stepford Husband.”)
The thing that a lot of us forget is winter for Aspenites is largely a grind, with little to no vacation time, so I’m just glad that I’m not in the weeds every day at both jobs on top of being confined to six rooms. (Yeah, it’s super cool almost falling asleep behind the front desk during truncated shifts. You know you haven’t received a tip all season, right?) Normally, I’m waist deep in Brazilian luggage this time of year, and I have to say, it’s kind of nice not being treated like an indentured servant twice a week. (This is a one-time only happening. You realize they’ll be back next year, and all of the second-home owners who decided to indefinitely “rough it” will still be here, right?)
A nice thing about our new neighbors is they mess up the census data, so the state in theory has to ship us vaccine like we’re in permanent peak season. (You really think this bump in population is going to lead to more doses for locals? It’s going to be harder to get vaccinated in Aspen, the Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard than it is in Brooklyn.) That’s about all I can say nice about our now-known neighbors, so I’ll leave it at that. (I’ve got something to say, ass clown. If I see another New York license plate, I’m going to fuc — *please stand by as we sort out these technical difficulties*.)
Moving on, being able to snowboard has been absolutely fantastic. (“Oh look at me, I’m in Aspen, not Manhattan.” I’m going to piss on the Yankee shrine if Back of Bell gets snow again this seaso — *static*.) It’s cliché to say there’s never a bad day on the mountain, but it’s true this season more than ever. (Are you counting the day you were only able to take one run because Ben broke his helmet/got a concussion, and you had to walk him home/monitor him after ski patrol gurneyed him off the slopes? Because I do.)
The other nice thing about living in a place people want to visit is people actually visit, even with everything going on. (Hold on, you’re saying it’s a good thing that people are coming to town and dropping off COVID-19 like a negligent herpes carrier in Vegas?) I’m also lucky enough to have most of my immediate family anywhere from 40 minutes to four hours away, and I know they take this pandemic seriously. (Do they? Because it seems like you’ve been invited to more family reunions in the past year than the previous five combined.)
It seems like everyone from your aunts to your buddies from back home still wants to come skiing, which says a tremendous amount about the industry. (Even though your friends probably aren’t coming because they’re in Breck because that extra couple hours from Omaha are just too much. Pop another edible, Bert, and let Stutzman navigate the steep grades.) And I think Aspen Skiing Co. has done a tremendous job keeping people safe but also avoiding a reservation system. (If you don’t say anything about the vouchers, I will.)
Other than powder days, I don’t ride at peak times, so my routine hasn’t really been that affected by lift lines. (Skico didn’t give any weekday season passholders the 50% off vouchers that come with the Premiere Pass even though the weekday option was encouraged for locals by Skico to ease weekend traffic stress. Common sense would ask why locals would invite friends out skiing on days their passes are blacked out? Throw us a bone here, damn.) Also, obviously you have to wear your mask in line, but you can still disrobe, err, take off your gear on the gondola to cool down because you never have to worry about sharing a bucket. (Unless the liftie asks you if you’re OK riding with another person because, like everything else you do during the pandemic, you’re doing it alone. However, kind liftie, the answer is and always will be “no.”)
Soon enough it will be spring, the days will be longer and the weather warmer. (You better pray for more snow or be prepared for a new normal called the apocalypse.) Hopefully, people will be resilient enough to stay vigilant so we can bring back socially distanced barbecues and safely ride out this pandemic. (If you think a vaccination is a free pass to pre-pandemic times, you piss ant, if got a few words for yo — *pulls the plug*.)
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at email@example.com.
For the last 35 years I’ve been covering what we call the “salmon wars” in the Pacific Northwest, writing so many stories about salmon heading toward extinction that I’ve lost count.
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