Couldn’t stand the weather |

Couldn’t stand the weather

Alex Miller
Alex Miller

I asked the 4-year-old this morning what I should write this column about. He didn’t hesitate: “The weather.”It was snowing, so it was an understandable response. Still, it underscored how even kids as young as 4 or even 4 months have an interest in what the clouds are up to. It being April – with its summer one day and winter the next schizophrenia I think Andy was reflecting on how the snow was going to impact his day. At preschool, it would have a lot to do with how much time they spend outside, clothes needed and all that.For the ultimate illustration as to how weather can affect a kid’s day, one need only turn to the “The Cat in the Hat.” This look at a classic rainy day represents the extreme, but the allegory of the cat is appropriate. Kids stuck inside especially now during mud season with the ski hills closed or closing can be, um, something other than pleasant to be around, regardless of the age. Seuss’s cat was the embodiment of the boredom that can turn either to mischief or the kind of plaintive whining that goes directly to the parents’ central nervous system.There’s a reason why our resort communities don’t market the appeal of the latter half of April, all of May and a good chunk of June. The weather can be glorious one day and sorta Lord-of-the-Rings-y the next. The idyllic tableau of rain-slickered kids kicking through puddles is one thing, but here in the High Country, you have to run ’em through the car wash were they to engage in such endeavors. For all its beauty when new, snow in the valley doesn’t age well, and with one foot in the grave, this season’s snowpack is transforming the valleys into fetid quagmires. It lures kids in and kicks them back out coated in muck that’s equal parts dirt, water, magnesium chloride and dog poop, with cigarette butts, old lift passes, Starbucks lids and bits of leftover campaign signs thrown in like evil sprinkles. If you live anywhere near the interstate, the little darlings can emerge from the swamp toting all manner of unsavory detritus, from trucker bombs (“Look mommy, someone threw away a bottle of lemonade!”) and Budweiser cans to timeshare brochures and thrift-store mannequins.It’s not an easy time for anyone, and many a single person solves the mud season conundrum by simply getting the heck out of Dodge. But for families it may be tougher since spring break is over, there’s still six or eight weeks left of school and the rec center pool starts getting mighty old come May. Relief comes when the lower hiking trails start to shed some snow, and there’s always quick trips to Denver or Grand Junction to remind us that it’s summer or at least spring somewhere.The silver lining is that, with all the tourists and second-home owners gone, we get our county back. On the nice days, the playgrounds are all but empty, the shops and restaurants those that remain open, anyway are devoid of traffic, and we can walk the streets without so much fear of getting mowed down by an out-of-control rental SUV. To the little ones, we offer frequent assurances that summer is just around the corner, and that soon we’ll be able to enjoy all the things that season embodies. In the meantime, mud season represents a wonderful way to teach children things like patience, fortitude, perseverance, and the value of things like coloring books, Game Boy, Playstation and, when things get truly desperate, the stack of board games collecting dust in the closet.Parchesi, anyone?Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or Daily, Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism