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Saving the world, one powder day at a time

Tamara Miller

Gotta love those newbies. A friend and colleague who just moved to the valley this summer already has more ski days than I’ll probably get for the entire year. He went up on the mountain six times last week. If three inches fall overnight, it’s a powder day.

We made plans to meet up Sunday morning at Vail. But we were still in Eagle by 10:30 that morning. He couldn’t wait for us. After all, winter only lasts like, eight months here.

I think something happens to locals once they’ve lived here for about five years. Moving downvalley accelerates the problem. The wonder of living here doesn’t ever go away, but I’ve noticed it fading. Driving between Avon and Eagle used to be a pleasure. The change in typography in such a short distance is amazing, especially to someone from the Midwest. Flying down the highway at 70 mph, I would always turn my head to catch a glimpse of the New York Range behind Edwards, scan the hillside near Wolcott for deer and try to imagine what lived in the nooks and crannies of the red rock just east of Eagle. Now I’m just in a hurry to get to work.

There’s a change infiltrating Eagle County, and it’s not just homes and people, though that might be one of the causes. It seems almost ironic that people move here to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city, to re-arrange their priorities around other kinds of fulfillment, the kind that comes from spending time with family, friends, and nature.

We want Eagle County to change us, but in the end, we’re changing Eagle County.

Maybe we want the mountain lifestyle because it will make things easier, simpler and less stressful. Experts say there’s a backlash against the Boomer generation, that we GenXers resent their go-getter attitude, their emphasis on material things, the pressure they put on their kids to excel, excel. Maybe that’s why we head to the mountains. The rat race has left us with stressed-out parents, angry children and a society that puts more emphasis on quantity, not quality.

I’m not sure whose fault it is, and I’m not sure it really matters. But here’s a thought: Getting out of the rat race is a lot harder than staying in.

I’m not sure I know how to re-arrange my priorities. I moved back to Eagle County almost two years ago to do just that. (Living in California is enough to make anyone re-examine their life.) I missed spending my weekends going on snowshoeing and hiking trips. But lately when someone asks if I’m heading up the hill, I tell them no. I have to work, do laundry, go grocery shopping.

If the holidays are supposed to force us to concentrate on the things that “really matter,” then I have a proposal for those of you like me. Try to take a powder day. The time has never been better. We are on par to have one of the best snow years in a decade. Even your boss is itching to ditch the morning meeting for a few runs.

I know it won’t be easy for some of you. We live in everyone’s Christmas vacation destination. This is when we work the most, not the least. And there’s shopping to be done, laundry to do.

If we could all be a little more like my friend, who also has a full-time job, who also has laundry to do, maybe the world would be just a little bit better place. Maybe Eagle County would be a little bit better place, too. VT

Tamara Miller can be reached at tmiller@vailtrail.com.


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