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Indian Summer
The view from atop Shrine Pass in mid-October during a beautiful late-autumn day.
Photo by Tom Boyd 

Indian Summer

By Tom Boyd

October 19, 2009 —  Snow melt made Shrine Pass road look like a black cherry snowcone, white intermixed with red sandstone mud, and when we returned from a hike I traded out my wet, snowy boots for a pair of dry summer sandals.

There are always a few days a year like that, the Indian summer afternoons that trick your mind, melt the snow, make you think it’s spring.

We’ll get a few more of these, and by mid November everyone will be wondering if the snow will ever going to come. Happens every year. We worry, then it comes, regardless of how much we worry.

Each season in the mountains has its benefits – in October and early November it's the blue-sky days. Snow seems unnecessary. The leaves have mostly disappeared, but so have the leaf peepers, leaving the town empty of all visitors except elk and deer hunters, who stay high in the mountains, mainly. So we have the place to ourselves. Working seems superfluous to most, and free time is at a maximum. Biking and hiking aren’t out of the question, but neither is taking a few early season turns at high elevation. It’s cool enough for cooking up that first pot of chili, but warm enough to eat it on the back porch in the afternoon. Sitting there, after a short mid-October bird hunt, I watched the very last Aspen leaves drop away, one by one, from the last waking trees as they drifted into winter sleep.

Winter will come, and with it the inevitable snow. Vail Village will see the Christmas lights and hear sleigh bells, come alive with the opening of shops and restaurants, bars, and of course the ski hills. We will all be watching closely, counting the people, watching our money, trying to figure out how well we’re doing, how we’re weathering the economic storm, and whether we’ll be able to keep doing what we’re doing through the winter and into next year. It will be a more lively time, but more stressful. It can wait. For now it’s better to revel in the snowless days of Indian Summer.



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