Opinion | Biff America: Summer time is short and sweet
They rolled through the neighborhood like they owned the joint; in many ways they did. Being young and unburdened, on a bluebird week end of summer, they were masters of all they surveyed.
We adults, heavy and slow moving by comparison, (at least in my case) looked on in envy as the kids of the ’hood reveled in the immediate gratification that comes with childhood. Like newly un-caged greyhounds, with bikes, scooters, skateboards, they moved with abandon while the rest of us puttered around our yards and enjoyed a perfect mountain day.
An unprecedented cold, wet and nasty winter in our county was followed by an unprecedented cold, wet and nasty spring. The weather tested patience, relationships and sanity. The urgency of the childrens’ play served as a reminder to us all of the fleetingness of a mountain summer and the need to make recreational hay while the sun shined. There were talks of runs, bicycle rides and barbecues.
Perhaps I’m projecting. Perhaps the relief felt by the marauding kids recently released from public education is not the same as I felt at their age. I think school is more fun and less tedious now than in my era. There are programs like individualized teaching, collaborative play, self-directive learning; all more user/child friendly and the teachers can’t hit you.
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I was an indifferent student with the attention span a hummingbird and had difficulty sitting still.
I recalled my own summer jail break from public education. On the last day of classes, like an escaped prisoner, I exploded out the front door of the Eastondale School ignoring the principal, Mrs. Bieschell’s order of “Slow down! No running!” I remember looking back over my shoulder at her, laughing, without breaking stride. With a déjà vu projection, I imagined that some of the neighborhood kids hated school as much as I, and thus enjoyed the freedom accordingly.
My mate and I had backcountry skied earlier in the morning and were home working in the money-pit we call a garden. She was planting flowers that would be dead in three months and I pulled weeds with roots deeper than Alex Hailey’s. We waved at our neighbors, who were likewise enjoying a quiet day knowing a mile away in the core of town, it might be tourist bedlam.
It was the sweet spot of the High Country — the window between the end of one season — lift served skiing — and the start of another — construction.
Living in a tourist town has its challenges. Yes, the hundreds of thousands of those guests who visit bring revenue, but their impact is a challenge. But that same impact allows us to live in a place where 75 years ago employment opportunities were difficult, dangerous and often below ground. (I’m not built for mining.)
Our ’hood could be confused with a mountain Mayberry except where all the characters had strong legs and sun tans. Kids played, adults puttered and parents strolled through pushing dump-truck-sized strollers, as couples walked dogs who were better fed than many humans in other parts of the world.
To see us all go about the business of doing little and enjoying it, you would never know that, a world away, and even in parts of our own nation, things were not so tranquil.
A Memorial Day broadcast reminded me that there are still many hundreds of thousands of American troops in war zones on several fronts across the globe. And there are some in our government who would like to increase that number and our nation’s involvement.
Unless you have a family member or friend who is in harm’s way, it’s easy to forget.
As the parade of kids, as old as some of my clothing, went by, I flashed on the fact that some of them were but a decade younger than some soldiers.
But the beauty of our democracy is the ability to fashion a nation of our choosing. We here at home have a mission. A mission that though, not as dangerous as the soldiers abroad, is equally important. And that mission is, to use our voices, money, energy and votes to create a nation reflective of our values. A country where the air is clean, discourse is civil, wars are a last resort and winter goes back to being a mere six months long.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores. He arrived in Breckenridge when there was no stop lights and plenty of parking.
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