The community lost a little heart this weekend.
The neighborhood watering hole in heaven probably gained a couple more patrons with the passing of Paul Redden and Matty Robb, but that gain is our loss.
Both men were fixtures in Crested Butte, guys you felt would just sort of be there. And sometimes in a small town that is enough. I didn’t personally know either really well. I’d say hi and chat to both when we crossed paths but it is evident from social media that they both deeply touched and influenced a lot of people in the community.
They both had that ethereal “good energy.” There are a lot of people in this town like that with deep roots in the community, smiles that light up Elk and a solid presence that for some reason is reassuring. People like Matty and Pauley give this place some heart. Thank God for them.
On Sunday I was driving through the rain on my way to the office because what else could I do when spring weather turns so wintry? I suppose I could have done the CB3P but I’d just be getting to the river put-in about now. Instead I pulled over and watched a half dozen bikers pedal up the hill by school in the chilly rain – with smiles lighting up the low clouds. And that reminded me again of the heart this place can attract. Then I turned on KBUT and heard Pat O’Neill give a shout out to his good friend Paul and an energized Dave Ochs tip his hat to Matty. That too reminded me of the heart of the place.
If you open your eyes just a little bit, it is not difficult to see how this place is impacted by heart. When the call goes out, it is a place where people help friends, neighbors and people they don’t know very well. It is a place where your waitress might throw on a tutu while doing extreme sports in extreme weather conditions. Crested Butte attracts guys who have been skiing more than 50 or 60 years (you do the math) but still rally for a spring climb up Red Lady. It is a place where local kids who are finding their way don tuxedos and long dresses for a unique Crested Butte prom. It’s a place where a blizzard in late April or early May doesn’t make everyone happy but it is taken in stride. It goes on and on…
While we are all going to follow Paul and Matty eventually, there are others coming to check out this place. Most won’t feel comfortable in this often-times weird place but a few will find that they actually feel at home here. They’re the ones like Matty Robb and Pauley Redden who feel the heartbeat of Crested Butte. Some will sit and listen to anyone next to them at the bar; others will grow old where they are comfortable and walk the streets that they helped mold; others will hop on their bike in the rain and ride to Gunnison with a smile.
Certain types of people are attracted here and it takes a different kind of soul to stay in this valley and embrace it. It isn’t easy and you have to be a little off. It’s not always perfect—and that is a large part of the appeal. There is a unique understanding between members of this tribe. It is sometimes enough to just be there.
The community lost a little heart this weekend. But there are others adding to the heart of the place—and for that we can be grateful.