The other day, sempi was on the telephone with someone official. At one point, the conversation seemed a bit strained. When he hung up, he shook his head, rolled his eyes, and made an exasperated sound.
"What is with people around here lately?" He asked rhetorically. I looked up at the calendar.
"It's April thirteenth," I said.
"The key word there is 'April', Sir" I said, trying not growl.
"Oh," sempi muttered, annoyed, because, suddenly, everything made sense.
Not that I blame him for losing track for a bit; only two years up from Atlanta, sempi still likes to run around in his nicely pressed khakis like this is the big city, forgetting that sort of dress-up is for marryings, buryings, and unfortunate moments in front of a magistrate. And, up here, even such occasions usually just dictate which North Face fleece you're going to wear.
I think I understood the concept of seasonal burnout a little before I came to the mountains, but only a little. That moment where winter was giving its death-rattle, but spring was only about half-sprung. There may have been angst for the new season to truly unfold, but it was on a far different level. I may have somewhat felt it before, but I never truly realized what a cruel time April was until I came up the hill.
Living anywhere in the mountains-aside from being a study in borderline insanity-is to live in what might be termed as a resort area. Even our Sahel, which focuses more on the mining and railroad history then skiing, has a fair amount of outdoor recreation. There are four of the over fifty fourteeners in the state here, three of which are in the top fifteen. There are industries of all stripes up here, but, when it comes to brass tacks and bedposts, they are all interwoven to one thing; the tourist.
And April is the purgatory, the interminable limbo, between the winter and summer tourists. A good deal of the ski areas close in April, however, campgrounds and museums may not be open. There is mud and ticks. The remaining snow is grapple or wet paste. There may be a few things threatening to bloom, but most still hides beneath a veil of khaki.
The tempers are on edge; tired of the snow, the cold, the wind. Business is slow in the in-between and a trip down below can illicit seasonal envy looking at the blooms and blossoms and green that may be still a month off here, barring a major storm. Deep winter and its way of inducing cabin fever dose not test one's mettle the way the April does.
Even this year, with how autumn gave winter a miss and headed straight for spring, there is the angst. The fears of a dry summer ahead and how the rafting companies, down valley, might not do well if there's so little run-off. Worry of wildfires and the price of fuel just for a hop up from the greater metroplex. Those tempers, brought on by season's burnout, are spiced by fears of economics and drought. Another symptom of living in what could be termed resort area. Something someone who comes to the mountains to vacation might not be able to fully comprehend.
I watch the world slough its seasonal skin toward the warmer times. When the travelers ask me what to do, I tell them honestly they've shown up at simultaneously the best and worst time; when many things are closed or closing, but when there are fewer crowds, even on the weekends. I try not to bristle when I catch a sharpness in a local's voice, recognizing the time of year. As far as I'm concerned this is part of the penance of living where other's come to vacation.
In a month, or a little more, it'll have passed. We'll have all settled into the rhythms of the warm season. The burnout, the temperamental moments will have been all but forgotten. Metaphoric waters on proverbial bridges. That is, until next year, when once more our collective mettle is tested by the cruelty of April.