Whit’s End: An ode to Colorado’s shoulder season
How many times have you heard — or said — you move here for the winter and stay for the summer? It’s been a common refrain as my first Colorado summer draws near, but people seem ready to skip right over spring and fall.
That was initially hard for me to comprehend as a native Southerner. Spring and fall are the best parts of the year back home. Southern winters aren’t particularly tough, but spring is still a welcome break from the cool. Weekends fill quickly with arts and food festivals, college spring football games and more 5K races than even the most dedicated runner could attend. Fall is focused almost exclusively on one thing: college football. During the interminable months in between, Southerners isolate themselves inside, taking full advantage of central air conditioning.
I was surprised when Coloradans and transplants dismissed my two favorite seasons. Now that I’ve lived through half a spring here, my perspective has changed.
Although the temperatures have risen, I’ve been colder in the past few weeks than I was all winter. (Rain will do that.) Outdoor activities are subject to the day’s forecast; a hike planned for Saturday may be pushed to Sunday or canceled altogether. The days are longer, but they’re still unpredictable.
Some people tell me this shoulder or mud season is prime time for desert trips. After multiple falls in soft dirt at The Narrows, I get that. But I’d add that these in-between days offer respite from our otherwise busy Colorado lifestyles.
I found it tough to fit all my regular obligations into winter weekends. Laundry and budgets weren’t as pressing as time on the mountain. There are only so many days in ski season. Chores could wait till Monday night. By the end of winter, I felt as I so often do after football season: sad it’s over, but relieved to reintroduce other things to my weekends.
Last Saturday was overcast and dreary. After breakfast with friends, I spent hours with my cat, watching “Parenthood” and dipping into my latest read. A friend joined the roommates and me for dinner and hours of ’90s country music. It was a glorious, lazy day.
We still took advantage of this beautiful place with a Sunday hike to Mushroom Rock. But my perspective on shoulder season changed Saturday: It may not showcase Colorado at its very finest. But these muddy days create time for rest before summer rushes in.
Carla Jean Whitley is eager to experience every season in Colorado. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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