Vail Daily column: Word cops should chill out
Ryan Summerlin May 8, 2014
Dear God don’t call it “mud season.”
And it’s not “downvalley.” Call it the “western end.” Or somesuch.
The word police among us keep hacking away at our earthy terms for life between peak tourist seasons and one end of the valley from the other. Don’t call the Eagle Valley the Vail Valley. That’s some kind of mortal sin, too, even if more true to life today in the valley that ranks among the top places anywhere to visit (and live). Even if geographically speaking, it’s really two valleys.
We need a guide to Valley PC. Just don’t ask me to write it. Wrong sensibility.
I live, ahem, downvalley, and I love mud season. I trail run in it. The name fits. And what’s wrong with mud anyway?
Our semantic instincts have been stuck in overdrive lately. You’d think for all the din that visitors would turn up their noses at mud season or offseason but hurry to book for, what, “encore” season? They’d flock to the Vail Valley if only we’d declare it “spring”?
But we do, we do call it spring. The leaves are budding, the school year wrapping up with a fresh set of graduates soon to sail forth. We’ve had the highway cleanup and some town cleanups. Some of us are even starting to gear up for summer. We love spring. Well, when it’s not snowing we do.
Between storms, which by the way also come in summer with the monsoon (is that on the bad name list, too?), the trails downvalley dry to powdery in places. This is prime time for skilled river runners, to the point that dangers lurk for the clueless right about now. And the cyclists are everywhere. Nothing can stop that winter’s worth of pent-up desire to ride.
The hardy souls who skin up the mountains for postseason sliding are just about the only ones who will see much actual mud. Them and adventurous four-wheelers.
Mud season isn’t really even derogatory. No one I know uses the term as an epithet. It’s just a pet name someone brought from New England, where surely marketers on steroids are railing, as well.
This actually is a great little season to take a breath, remember why you moved here, enjoy some great meals at a discount, maybe even sneak out of town for a weekend, more or less guilt-free.
Meantime, group business is the real key to the in-between times bridging winter and summer, and summer and winter. The mechanics of that marketing has precious little to do with locals’ pet names for the offseasons — oops, another word crime.
Personally, I’m glad for little periods between the hard-driving seasons when everyone is pushing to provide the most fun possible for others, to make sure the visitors have the greatest times ever. That’s real work, and we do it very well.
It’s healthy to turn back the dial, take an all-too-quick break, maybe widen our perspective just a little as a tourist somewhere else.
If we want to make a joking reference to the time of year, well, maybe we’ve earned the right. The word police seem to have their dial stuck on go, go, go. But this is a place based most fundamentally on fun.
So, please, let us have some. We’ll be better for it in the high seasons if we all can just chill out a little bit now, not take everything quite so seriously.
As I write this Thursday morning, the cat refused to go outside because it was snowing. Now the sun is out. I wonder if my trail will dry out in time for my run.
If not, no matter. I don’t mind a little mud on my shoes.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2920.