There’s a dust devil making its way down Main Street, but no one seems to notice. I stand there wondering if it’s strong enough to pick me up and toss me over a rainbow to a weird place with flying death squad monkeys like Oz, or even Ouray, but it dies down and vanishes before it reaches me. I click my heels together a couple of times in an attempt to conjure the wicked winds.
“There’s no place like Telluride. There’s no place like Telluride,” I say.
Even Mother Nature doesn’t have the energy to continue during this time of year.
Watching this short burst of power recently reminds me it’s offseason in Telluride. I look around to see if there are any other witnesses or winged primates, but there isn’t. Of course, there’s not. It’s a cool April morning and even the buildings are on vacation during this time of year. The closed signs and printed pieces of paper taped to their darkened windows carry temporary farewell messages.
“See you in May!”
“Thanks for a wonderful winter!”
The reopening dates differ from place to place, but the sentiment is the same — we’re taking a break. Whether it’s vacations to far-flung places or settling into the quietness that envelops the canyon, this is the month to rest, relax, recharge and refocus before the days grow longer and the bustle of life in this corner of the mountains resumes.
While town’s major artery is as lifeless debris as the agitated dirt and that’s whipped up by a strong gust, this isn’t a dirge, but a casual observation of the town many don’t experience when it’s covered in snow or serenaded with live music . The sights and sounds may not be as exciting as Gorrono’s on Closing Day, but they’re still interesting, especially if you have a keen eye.
Shortly after my fantastical daydream about being caught in a tornado, I witness something even more magical and extraordinary, when a motorist passes me near the corner of Aspen Street. Slowing down to respect the posted speed limit, I’m shocked to see the woman shove a corndog into her mouth before resting both of her wrists on top of the steering wheel to take a selfie. Caught off guard by the detour signs, she pumps the brakes. Her head jerks forward. I let out an audible gasp. I could see in her eyes that this wasn’t part of her plan, but she recovers calmly and removes the corndog from her face before choking on it.
Anyone could have viewed this mobile freakshow. I look around to see if there are any other food fetishists, but there isn’t. Of course, there’s not. Where she found such a perfect portable deep-fried meat product is anyone’s guess, but corndog swallowing passes for entertainment during this time of year.
Main Street is currently receiving a facelift, and the songs of construction dominate the soundscape. The harsh hymns of a jackhammer chewing away cement. The high-pitched squeals of heavy machinery in reverse. But this concert isn’t nearly as crowded as the season’s last dance, an outdoor masquerade during which people dressed in pink packed themselves tight against one another to enjoy one more public celebration before deserting town. The audience now is a mix of orange traffic cones and signage that dots the well-used road. If only the flamingo people can see it now, their dance floor is being resurfaced before summer, and even the flags that are typically so spry and confident in their unwavering role during a busy holiday weekend lag a little lower than usual, barely rippling with the breeze
Nearby, two skateboarders take advantage of the down time by cruising the skatepark beside the Voodoo art studios, the future site of an affordable housing project that has drawn the ire and interest of many still here during this time of year. The news never sleeps. The saying makes me laugh. The number of notes we receive during this time of year to hold a story “until more people are in town” offseasons happening our ongoing print deadlines and the timeliness of the timeliness. But then again, some people still think we put out a Monday paper.
I wander into the grocery store, which is just as barren as the rest of town during this time of year, and find myself in the frozen food aisle studying all the different brands of corndogs. Maybe I’ll start a new hobby this offseason. I imagine business cards with the title “Founder of the Telluride Corndog Carnival” printed on them in bubble letters.
I snap back to reality after a woman in red shoes pushes in front of me to grab a pack of Jimmy Dean’s pancakes and sausage on a stick.
I leave without buying anything. The sky is a swirl of blue and gray. Once again, I wait for a black blizzard to sweep me up and spit me out somewhere else for a while, then I can say, “We’re not in Telluride anymore.”