Fall Sunday: Reading Into The Off-Season

DSC_0105 (9)In Telluride, we can no longer pretend that it’s summer. Gone are the days when the sun baked Main Street and the San Miguel River tempted us to dip in its waters. Gone are the river and all wildness that came with it, its reckless tumble downwards in spring, tumbling as if it would never exhaust its supply of water.  Gone, too, is the river’s more moderate mid-summer ramble, snow melt from winter’s first storms, its transient water only briefly kissing the valley floor, before it heads to the Dolores, to the Colorado, and if its lucky— if wildness can be called such a thing— to the Sea of Cortez.

In summer’s place are yellow ribbons of aspens stretched across the hillside and snow-capped peaks. Cool, frost-filled mornings. Bugling elk. The sounds of squirrels scurrying. Everything hustles for the onslaught of winter. For it will come whether we are ready for it or not. For us, that means sorting through hockey and ski gear, preparing for the annual gear swaps and sizing and resizing our children who literally are growing before our eyes. My 8-year old, Siri, has grown half a foot in the last 6 months, which perhaps explains how she can put away food like a lumberjack and still look like a bean pole. It’s the time in Telluride known as off-season. A time when many of the restaurants close and life in town slows down to a saunter.

When I first moved to Telluride, I didn’t get off-season. I’d grown up in a city. Living in Telluride was at times a little quiet. Living in Telluride during off-season had my ears aching for sound.

DSC_0104 (7)Now, I can’t wait for off-season. I love strolling down Main Street and knowing every single person I see. Love that I can spend an entire Sunday doing puzzles and playing board games with my children and not worry that I’ve missed something. Or feel that we should have been skiing or biking or hiking.

This past Sunday, it rained great torrential rains in Telluride and the only thing productive about our day, if you can call it that, is that Andy baked a pumpkin flan. Oh, and Siri and I started reading Harry Potter aloud again, which is something I adore. When I read Harry Potter, I don’t think about the craft of writing. Instead, I allow myself to be carried away by the story. Reading Harry Potter reminds me that a story doesn’t have to be profound for it to be enchanting. Those books also remind me that writing doesn’t have to be as hard as I sometimes make it out to be. I’m just telling a story. I’m going to try and make it as enchanting as it can be. Finally, they remind me to love reading. This sounds weird, I know, but amidst the pace of life in general right now, I can forget the very thing that first drew me to an MFA writing program in the first place: my love for stories!

Books like Harry Potter were the stories that first made me love reading and made me dream about concocting stories of my own when I was a little girl. I was too old for Harry Potter. For me,  those books were C.S Lewis’s Narnia Series, the Little House on the Prairie books, books like The Great Brain and Robinson Crusoe.

IMG_3007As an older reader, I think that’s what I love about books like Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Two Oceans. Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things and Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. They’re really good stories. Tales that enchant. And they’re so captivating that I forget while reading them that I am reading.
I’m so grateful for those lazy off-season Sundays. Soon enough it will be hockey season and ski season. We’ll feel obligated to put on some piece of gear and seize the day. But for now, I’ll just pick up a book and watch the leaves change. Maybe if I’m lucky, Andy will bake another pumpkin flan.

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