Britta Gustafson: Finding beauty beneath the mud of offseason |

Britta Gustafson: Finding beauty beneath the mud of offseason

Britta Gustafson
Then Again

With the last traces of winter melting away, May rushes in, like a breath of fresh air. Some call this the mud season. But I like to think of this as our chance for a little spring cleaning, both inside and out. An opportunity to detox from the long winter and a time to prepare for the summer ahead.

Like the workers during every ski season in every ski resort, we rely on the seasonal shifts. We say our goodbyes to the ski instructors and visitors, we wind down and regroup.

Some say Snowmass goes dark, but for me, this is a time that I look forward to each year. When I’m certain that I will know every face in town. When the pathways and hillsides feel like our home again. When the warm sun urges us to get out and tackle the unearthed garbage and tend to the unfurling greens and garden beds.

Our collective house guests and roommates have cleared out and we can all, once again, enjoy the freedom of our domain. It doesn’t last long, and for those who grumble about this being a quiet, sleepy place in the offseason, I reflect on just how brief this moment’s reprieve really is.

June brings with it a ramped-up pace of life that hits hard and fast, and all too soon we are back in the race once again.

Just as mindful meditation can settle the soul, this down time can offer clarity and purge the stresses that often prevent us from enjoying this precious place that we call home. We can focus on the aspects of our lives that we truly live for; whether it is family, time or travel, or a career reboot, it’s a transformative respite affording us the chance to reevaluate our goals. A juncture at which to consider new directions.

It’s true that there are less options available for locals, but with a population of under 3,000 we still have more options than almost any other small town of our size.

As kids we would comb the mountain in the spring searching for the treasures lost beneath the chairlifts, hidden all winter. We would exhume pole baskets, sunglasses and used Chapsticks, but as we scoured the hillsides, we always managed to find some cash, or at least some loose change that had managed to escape from lift-riders.

I once found a key that looked like something out of the pioneer days. It was simple and rusty and covered in mossy mold, giving it the appearance of a relic from another time and place. I was certain that I had discovered a valuable anthropological site that would answer questions about ancient mysteries.

I returned to that place, with wonder, time and again, digging around for more artifacts, enjoying an endless assortment of fantastic imaginary tales living in the slush. Time would prove Snowmass to have hidden wonders of prehistoric value found in muck and mess, though not where I had been excavating.

As the slowly melting, dirty-snow piles offend our senses, I like to recall the lotus flower, which rises up from beneath the mud; its growth and beauty bearing no resemblance to the mire from which it sprouts.

Before the wildflowers and grass fill out Mother Nature’s carpet there may be lots of ruts into which we could sink. Still, sometimes we need only dig a little deeper to find a peaceful beauty beneath the sludge.

Let’s exchange a piece of my mind for a little peace of mind; after all, if we always agree what will we talk about? Britta Gustafson appreciates an open mind; share yours and email her at


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