Letters to the editor
with the past
On a spectacularly beautiful late winter day many years ago, a lady friend and I decided to have a picnic lunch in Game Creek Bowl. Forgetting to wear my wristwatch, I managed to lose track of time and the hour seemed to be getting late.
After gathering our gear and cleaning our site, we skied to the bottom of Chair 7 and were greeted by two smiling but eminently decent patrollers who asked me to surrender my season pass and to report to Sarge Brown in the morning – we’d missed the sweep.
Upon walking into his office the next day, he looked up from his desk, smiled, and said: “Lean “‘n’ mean, what are you doing skiing after hours on my mountain?”
I explained and apologized, we both laughed, and he gave me back my pass.
I relate this incident to describe a mutual dignity and respect which existed at that time among those who irrespective of class, position or salary realized how fortunate they were to be able to live and work in such a beautiful place, and who shared this opportunity in gratitude toward one another. Those, of course, were the days prior to the arrival of ostentatious presumption and $8 million bonuses.
Naturally, the profit motive existed since Vail’s inception, and there were always those few who valued money and power far above and beyond a decent, simple quality of life.
During those years, those of us who were new to the area and not naturally gifted struggled in humility through the ordinary, and sometimes horrific, mistakes in order to achieve an acceptable level of competence in skiing, orientation, survival while learning, as well as the necessary values of trail etiquette and environmental ethics.
It was a time when one knew one’s neighbor and one’s neighbor’s dog if he had one. If so, it was generally a cheerful, slurpy golden or Lab who ran or skied with us. There was a certain vibrant intimacy and apres ski was admittedly oftentimes wild and adolescently stupid.
But each day presented its own possibility for new adventure and hopefully an eventual improvement in cultural and social amenities. Sadly, though, the profit motive took precedence and the aforementioned improvements never arrived. Vail remained a town of taverns, T-shirt shops, and real estate offices. Quickly, the cost of real estate (rentals and purchases) began to preclude many from remaining as residents in the upper valley.
Today, one’s neighbor quite often is a non-resident alien who arrives in his G-5 from La Jolla, Houston or the Hamptons, stays awhile, leaves and returns several times during the year. On a Saturday evening recently, I walked
through the village and the surrounding areas, and the feeling was eerie, if not downright lonely. There were no recognizable faces. I was reminded of an observation made by a local politician in Connecticut during the 1960s who described Hartford as “a cemetery with street lights.” And I thought what an apt description of present-day Vail.
For in Hartford at day’s end (a very conservative town), dull insurance executives, and their equally dull lawyers and accountants, and brokers of various persuasion closed the blinds, locked the doors, rode the elevator to the parking garage and drove home to their staid, white-bread, suburban neighborhoods adorned with security gates and expensive golf courses.
When the upper Eagle Valley began to resemble Hartford, a clever local observed that “the houses got bigger and the dogs got smaller.” One envisioned the soft, fleshy dilettante sitting in his-her living room with Fifi on its lap looking out the window at the mountains but without a view (or a clue) to climbing them). Interesting enough, many of the dogs are much bigger now. Rottweilers, Dobermans, pit bulls, and other varieties of uncertain temperament are here to “protect” their masters. One wonders from whom or what. But more importantly, I wonder who protects me from them.
Recent Vail Daily articles indicate that upwards of 75% percent of Vail’s property owners wish to acquire the right to vote in local elections as second-home owners. This seems to me to be a rather peculiar request. For they are demanding “democracy” as the means by which to establish an official “aristocracy.” Furthermore, their lifestyle would seem to indicate an innate fear of the wilderness, since they have taken every means possible to “gentrify” it.
As a result of having lived out here for a considerable number of years, it has become clear to me that capitalism (such as it is) in this regard properly belongs in the cities and not in the wilderness.
Carlyle observed, “Nature is the time-vesture of God, which reveals Him to the wise and hides Him from the foolish.” Yet many of these people will say, “We fuel the economy and donate heavily to the cause of social justice.” To which I reply, the economy is a disaster at every level below yours, and there were no issues of social justice prior to your arrival apart from the occasional predator who underpaid his employees.
To consider the matter of justice at its most elementary level: food, clothing, housing and transportation, one must remind local government that any town which finds itself discussing the issue of “affordable housing” has already permitted to occur the socioeconomic conditions for which there are no solutions.
Today, the upper Eagle Valley is filled with many persons who at day’s end close the blinds, lock the doors, ride the elevator to the garage and drive home to staid, white-bread, suburban neighborhoods, while Vail Village is a well-lighted place for a few walking, dead people.
Were one to make a poetic leap, nature may correctly be viewed as God’s cathedral in time, and in regard to its destruction of life (plant, animal, human) by people of money, one must consider: “My house is a house of prayer, you have made it a den of thieves.”
A concluding note in regard to weekly attendance at Vail and Beaver Creek Chapels: What is the spiritual attitude of, say, 75 percent of those in attendance in respect to the foregoing discussion?
What say you, wealthy Christians?
Make a difference!
On Saturday, Oct. 25, millions of volunteers will be helping millions throughout the world on “Make a Difference Day.” We hope you’ll join us in supporting these activities locally with help from the Vail Police Department.
For the third consecutive year, we will be organizing a local Food Drive to “Make a Difference” in Vail and Eagle County. The food will be collected during most of October and will culminate with a day long collection effort on Oct. 25. Proceeds will then be delivered to local food pantries throughout Eagle County.
In the two previous years, the community has pulled together to help feed a growing community. This year, the need is even more critical. This is why we have set an ambitious collection goal of 25 tons for the 2003 Food Drive. This is significantly more than the 2.5 tons raised during our first year, which grew to 10.5 tons last year.
With help from you and your employees, no one in this community should go hungry. I’ll be in touch with you shortly to provide additional details about the drive and how your school can be of assistance in Making a Difference.
Thank you for your consideration.
Vail Police Department