Turning of the season
Financially, it’s been a tight year for most businesses, though not nearly as bad as feared last fall, in the wake of the terrorist attacks. The recession is showing signs of receding, and people are flying again – good signs for our corner of the universe.The traditions – BB&B, Taste of Vail, reignited rivalries expressed about snowboards and skis … – on a more personal level bode well for resilience. Life for locals has recovered steadily from the nationwide horror of Sept. 11. Mud season showers will spring hope for summer, along with hope that fuel prices don’t rise too high too fast.For now, we’ll enjoy a pause, a chance to reflect before diving back in with the watersports festival Memorial Day weekend, along the cultural doings around the corner, such as Bravo, the dance festival, jazz festival, Vilar showings. The snowpack at around 70 percent of normal around here, should retreat soon enough, baring hiking, riding and biking trails, along with some backcountry fishing and camping and such. Golfing, Little League and softball will take root very soon, fleece and parkas all but forgotten.The Fourth of July will bring its curfew and parade to Vail, monstrous fireworks over Nottingham Lake, and kick off the very favorite time of year for many people who were attracted to the valley for the skiing opportunities and stayed for that classical reason people have trouble tearing themselves away when summer fully emerges.The perennial issues carry along with us as we live our lives according to the rhythms unique to High Country communities with resorts serving as catalysts. Growth, at perhaps a pause itself looking at the long haul, pushes the others – affordable housing, traffic, crime, the educational system struggling to keep up with the demands, open space, cost of living in general, renovating Vail, doubling Avon.Suburbia has a grip on the valley, much as so many of us thought we’d escaped while packing our suburban sensibilities up here with us.Even so, the backcountry remains a short drive or jog away. Bears and even some mountain lion still suffer from the notion our subdivisions with fancy names, some even with gates, belong to them. There’s yet some wildness here, even some outposts where cable and cell service don’t reach.The Vail Valley, Eagle Valley if you prefer, or more properly if inelegantly put – the I-70 corridor – has come a long way from the days of yore when it was simply ski season and then the void, snowboards had not sprung up to bedevil proper snow riders, and “downvalley” referred to anything past Dowd Junction.Where the Gashouse ruled virtually alone not all that long ago, a fifth of the county’s population now roosts, with a thriving retail hub and world-class cancer center to boot. The little burgs along the highway are blooming – though our entire county’s population still can’t fill Invesco Field.The passage of seasons here means far more than almost anywhere. Whether we ski as much as we once did, we feel the comings and goings of the season profoundly. For all the talk and promised marketing of summer, the winter still dominates, and its end still leaves a vacuum economically – and despite all that a certain relief and anticipation for the season to come personally.We still mark nature’s rhythms by what we can do outside. We haven’t become fully civilized quite yet. And that’s a blessing.D.R.