The hope of spring color

I’m not saying my heart skipped a beat when I spotted the butterscotch-colored flowers by Totem Pole Park on Monday, but it picked up a notch. After months of white, gray and the occasional blue skies, seeing a different bright natural color was a good sign. I was afraid the only new color this week would be the reemergence of the red-tinted dust on the snow as the fresh couple inches from Friday melted away. But the yellow petals were a real sign of the joy that comes with our seasonal transitions at 9,000 feet.

Patience has always been a needed virtue up here high in the Rockies. When will it snow? When will it stop snowing? When will Hartman’s open? When will Mark Walter call me, or open one of his empty restaurant spaces? When can I get a plumber?

That first late April bloom in town was a physical sign of a real transition from winter to spring. Thank goodness. I don’t mind a late spring, and Diane and I had a wonderful time skinning uphill and taking some soft turns late Sunday morning. CB is a ski town after all. But I must admit I really appreciate the seasonal transitions like last year when no patience was needed, and the lift-served skiing at CBMR closed on a Sunday and the single-track riding at Hartman Rocks started on Monday. CB is a bike town after all.

Hopefully we’ll see the mountain biking start down south within the next week or two. According to the new RMBL snowmelt forecast map (https://arcg.is/0yeb0a0), it looks good as we turn the calendar. While hard to believe as I write this Tuesday afternoon and it is dumping outside, that map predicts bare ground should emerge in the upper valley near Crested Butte in early May. 401? Good luck scoring that ride before mid-July. 

The brave yellow flower emerging from the ground at Totem Pole Park was not the only color spotted early this week. If you were lucky, you could see the Northern Lights dance in the night sky Sunday. Low clouds and snow made it harder to see on Monday. While not a sign of spring, it is pretty cool to have the chance to witness the light show of the aurora borealis in the valley.

Politically, the color palette is a bit bland at the moment, but any number of issues hanging out there could blossom into a glorious array of successful color or explode into a messy plasma of chaos as we move into summer. The land exchange that is a big part of erasing the possibility of mining on Red Lady seems to be moving apace toward great success. HCCA is on board with all the progress, and an open house sponsored by the Forest Service will be held May 3 in Mt. CB. There’s some change coming to the leadership team at the CB Center for the Arts as Brooke MacMillan is stepping down. She has been an energizing and creative brick in that wall.

In Gunnison, the citizens have made it clear they don’t want a transit center sharing space on the Rec Center property. The primary reasons are the loss of green space and the potential for some unsavory characters hanging out at a transit center while the kids hang out at the Rec Center. Who wants little Johnny to see a real Crested Butte trustafarian or Becky to give directions to a seventh-year student from Western looking for City Market? The Mt. CB council is granting $82,000 to move the Wine and Food Festival in July up to the Snowmass Parking Lot. Water experts predict the local reservoirs will see a good bump in water while the snowmelt pace will keep runoff manageable, at least for the time being. Of course, weather is weather so change that could result in dangerous flooding would not surprise anyone. Negotiations are continuing to bring along developments like the Whetstone and Mineral Point work-force housing projects and a new fire station along the highway in front of the CB Cemetery. The CB Post Office? We’ll see. Any of these issues has the potential to explode into an array of color in the future.

Transitions can be hard — just ask Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon. High in the mountains transitions can be rough but the rewards are phenomenal. The appearance of actual spring color brings tangible signs of change and hope. 

While I enjoy what winter brings and it can be part of living here any time of the year, having a relentless bringing of winter can get old after six months. The snowbanks are shrinking, the snowmelt map says we will soon see bare ground around CB. The butterscotch flower that popped up by Totem Pole Park this week is a good indication that, despite more snow and rain in the forecast, we are about to experience the joys of the next seasonal transition. 

—Mark Reaman

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