Colorado’s Backyard This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

      The Breckenridge mountainside is a bowl of serenity, an asylum, a walled-in way of life. I am just one who harvests the bounty of this place and appreciates every moment.

Winter days are filled with adventure and excitement, blanketing snow and exhilaration. Inhaling the crisp air, I see the blinding snow which serves as a contrast to the freckles of trees. Nights begin with thought-provoking stars punching holes through the engulfing blackness. A mountain of many sides, one can never fully understand the emotions evoked by Breckenridge. Beneath its veil of beauty, Breckenridge is a demanding terrain that challenges both mind and body. Never dull, she is rich in history.

I am not treating you to an exotic land of vacation, but rather a place I grew up near. I have an intimate bond with this place, one that cannot be gained from a short vacation. Breckenridge is more special to me than any other place and has always been there for me. I am part of the culture here. The people I am around each day create an environment unlike anything I have experienced. During winter, we dream of a substance that is ordinary yet essential: snow. When coupled with the steep terrain of the Breckenridge Mountains, an indescribable exhilaration emits from the souls of Coloradans.

Summer presents another side of Breckenridge’s beauty. Sweet mountain air and vibrant flora take the place of snow. People travel from near and far to ski, snowboard, hike, bike, or just take in its beauty. We create a mini society of inhabitants with many backgrounds. Large families, young couples, single enthusiasts, and foreign vacationers are just some of who we see. Breckenridge has something for everyone.

For me, snowboarding serves as a release of pressure, and an exercise that utilizes more than the body. A few years ago, I came upon a demanding run called The Burn. It was notorious for its icy slopes and steep descent considered tricky for snowboarders. I stayed clear of it for half the day, thinking only of the danger and possible injury. But what if I were missing one the greatest experiences of my life? I finally found my courage and went on the run. Sometimes it is best to close your eyes and jump; risks are the spice of life. I will never forget it.

Out there on the mountain, I lose myself. Breckenridge is filled with myriad slopes to test my ability. We respect the surreal landscape in shocking silence. This awe has a lot to do with silence, and silence has a lot to do with tranquility. Breckenridge is not discerning; it yields the same joy and excitement for all. Anybody on the mountain can see the sunlight through the pines, dream of falling snow. Yet maintaining a sharp mind is required to traverse the steep slopes. A few years ago I was moguling with a friend at the edge of the resort. With a swaggering attitude, he weaseled under the border ropes into what seemed like promising terrain. I found him at the bottom of a 30-foot cliff. Respect is essential.

It is important to point out that Breckenridge’s harvest season is never-ending. One can reap its bounty day or night. The crackling fire burns just as many memories into my mind as its action-packed days. The smell of burning wood and nearby pine trees is not easily forgotten.

I have been concentrating on the surroundings, but it is really the people who create the atmosphere. Every native has a warm heart to balance the piercing cold. There is something that brightens a face in each resident. One cannot venture far without hearing a warm introduction and suggestion of a place to eat. If one travels to Breckenridge with a frown, it will quickly turn into a smile.

Breckenridge is now more than a miracle for people, it is a tradition. During the monotony of life, the mountainside beckons. I remember one chairlift ride last year with an older man and his wife. As the chairlift hummed along, the couple commented how they came here every year. I assumed they lived in Colorado and asked where their home was.

“No, no, no,” the man clarified. “We live in New York. I lived here as a kid and every year my wife and I have made the trip here.” Not every place has an attraction so strong that not money, work, or even half a continent can keep admirers away.

This mountain is a place like none other. Beauty serves as an effective cloak to a sharp and deep personality. Underneath the soft snow is a jagged rock waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting people. These mountains are not a place of dullness; I never lapse in the intrigue that it provokes. A tree marked by the presence of deer tracks pressed in the snow can be marked by the presence of the emergency patrol after a wreck an instant later. Breckenridge demands a keen mind.

Breckenridge is a home, a getaway spot, an adventure, a miracle, a refresher, an addiction, and a dream for those near and far. After time here, my mind reflects on the day, the week, the year, and I set new goals for myself. Such a vivid change in scenery renews my taste for life like no other place. I do not take it for granted. Once somebody experiences one of the true essences of life, they cannot go back. And why resist?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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LouieLou said...
Nov. 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm
I also have an immense for Colorado. Snowboarding is one of my greatest passions. Your piece does our state quite a bit of justice. Nice job.
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