Enjoying the peace of a special place | VailDaily.com

Enjoying the peace of a special place

Jeffrey Bergeron
Special to the DailyBiff America

The flowers in that mountain meadow were colorful enough to sexually excite a hummingbird. The Indian paintbrushes produced a vivid scarlet, columbine offered up violet and white, while purple lupines and thousands of other unnamed flowers supplied every possible color combination. The flora and fauna were vivid and well nourished. A 50-foot waterfall rolled from a low bench splashing into a pond at the meadow’s edge. Various small tributaries snaked off the pool and ran through the grassland to support the vegetation.The early morning air caused a mist to float off the tarn and drift over us as we sat in the first sun of the day. We spread a tarp on the soft grass and unpacked the scones and thermos of coffee we had carried in to that beautiful place. Ellen whispered for me to look at the rock outcropping 50 yards away, where several bighorn sheep were grazing. There were eight of them, and it was so quiet I swear I could hear them chew.I put down my binoculars and pulled her close and whispered: “This is just where I want to be, and you are just who I want to be here with.” She squeezed my hand and responded, “I only wish there were several thousand more people here to enjoy this with us.” She added: “You know, 50 or 60 church groups picnicking and playing music, maybe a few hundred cars in a nearby parking lot unloading strollers and mountain bikes, about four dozen fly fishermen and some families driving around on ATV’s. Then this place would be perfect.” She didn’t really say that. Can you imagine anyone saying that?One of the best things about being at a special place is having that place mostly to yourself. The magic of an extraordinary locale can be diminished exponentially by the number of those with whom you share it. Have you ever heard someone say, “Let’s travel to somewhere really crowded.”That is the quandary all of us who live in beautiful places must wrestle with. We love where we live, yet we cannot live here unless we invite many others to come and enjoy it with us. It doesn’t take long in a resort community to realize that, in order for your town to flourish, you not only have to encourage guests but you need to be a gracious host.All that being said, I firmly believe there is a finite amount of humans a place can bear before that place is compromised. When animals feel crowded in their particular habitat, they stop reproducing, chew each other’s tails off, or move on. Sometimes, it isn’t just because of a diminishing food supply but also the fact that they like their privacy, too.The traffic in my resort town over the holiday weekend moved as fast as FEMA towards a natural disaster. Roads were packed, tempers hot and traffic cones replaced columbine as the state flower. Despite the best efforts of those of us who live here, we simply were unable to be good hosts. Friendly service and helpful assistance only goes so far when visitors feel frustrated, crowded and inconvenienced. Yet I will guarantee you the chambers and municipal marketing types will applaud the crowded condition as a great success. “Better is the enemy of good.” I’ve often misquoted Voltaire by saying “The enemy of good is better.” Both mean much the same thing.Will there come a time when we will look at our guest numbers and say: “Last year, we had just the right amount of visitors to our community.” Will we ever say: “Let’s concentrate on providing the visitors we currently have with an even better experience by giving them, and our residents, each a little more room to shop, recreate and relax.” There are many who think if a community is not growing it is dying. I agree to a point, then I would suggest that if a community is not sustaining a high quality of life, it is in danger of changing to a place less desirable to live or visit.Some suggest our problems would be solved if we widen the highways and interstates, which would make it a little easier for guests to access the mountains. I don’t agree. Consider a busy weekend: Do we want to make it easier for visitors to come to our home when it is too crowded for us to be good hosts? And the times of the year when we would like to see more guests (spring and fall), the highways are relatively empty.Like our wildlife our guests need food, shelter, consideration and most importantly of all – space. Even a hummingbird can’t mate if everyone is watching.Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.Vail, Colorado

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