I spent a few days this week in Beaver Creek. I enjoy Beaver Creek, largely because of its relatively unique mix of synthetic cleanliness set into a slight draw of powerful mountains. The streams are full of trout, Gorsuch is full of thousand dollar windbreakers, and the restaurants serve two of my favorite things as an actual meal: melted cheese and bread. I first visited this place perhaps six years ago, and with each visit I become more familiar. The familiarity has not yet bred contempt, rather the expected known has become comforting. Thin air be damned, I tend to enjoy myself in this place. Never mind that this past visit featured daily rain and one afternoon with temperatures in the low forties, throwing cold water all over the narrative that it is somehow always perfect in the mountains. When it rains for several days straight in Lake Geneva, people threaten to move. When it rains in the mountains for several days straight, people just do mountain bike maintenance and iron out the brim in their hats.
Levity aside, I do worry about things when I’m in the mountains. I worry that my eyes will reset, and I’ll become accustomed to the mountains. I worry that a few days in that place will make my other place seem mundane. How can I see ten thousand foot snowy peaks in every direction for a spell and then return to this place where my mountain is Majestic, that sorta hill on our southern shore? How can I sit poolside at the Bachelor Gulch Ritz and then return to sit patio-side at my home, where my view isn’t of mountains at all but of only soybeans or corn, depending on the year? How can I feel the push of clear mountain water against my waders and aim a tiny caddis into the hungry view of a fat rainbow trout and then return to this desk where, today, with my window open the only sound I hear is of the garbage trucks that frequent this alley?
I worry about the reintroduction to this place, and I worry that the final visual blow of a sunset over a majestic range of mountains might just finish me off. I’ll be useless in this job then. I can’t sell something I don’t believe in. I’m not that good. I can’t pretend. I couldn’t ask people to spend their hard earned money in a place that I didn’t find interesting. It’s the handicap of my existence, or at least one of them, I just don’t have any interest in telling people things that aren’t true. And if my truth is in question, and my allegiance switches from this flat lake to those towering mountains, then I might as well call some mountain realtor and ask if I can be their summer intern. I’ll trade in these white shorts for some mountain gear, I’ll start eating bison and bison only, and then I’ll lose a bunch of weight so I can be an appropriate and redeemable worshiper of the sun and the trees, bowing to the hills each night in reverence as I make faux tech-bro conversation over that bun-less elk patty (elk on Thursdays, bison on the other days).
But then something happens. I fly home. I walk into my home that I love. I see my lawn and the trees that surround it and the absence of mountains and I don’t feel that anything is amiss. Then I drive to the lake, past it and around it. Next to it and above it. I see that old ski hill and think its height is appropriate. Any taller and it would be garish. Who needs such height when you have the rest of this? The lake sparkling and shimmering and filling to full with the weekend revelers who wish for nothing but a break from the mundane nature of our weekdays. I return to this place and I love it more than I did when I left. The mountains mean nothing to me. This lake means everything. Its grip on me remains and there is nothing and nowhere that can interfere with that bond.