Friday, 30 January 2015

A Rocky Mountain high

"Whatever you do, don't joke about John Denver in Aspen.  He's a local hero," a friend warned me before this trip.

How could I?  I love John Denver!

Songs like Rocky Mountain High, Thank God I'm a Country Boy and Take Me Home Country Roads have inexplicably been a soundtrack to my life.

They're those songs that I don't know how and when I came to know them; they've just always been there.

I remember John Denver being on The Muppets a lot.  Or perhaps the episode with him in it was repeated a lot.

I was talking about John Denver in the office recently and I was stunned to discover that some of the "younger ones" had never heard of him!   The outrage! (Seriously!  I think they just walk around with their eyes and ears closed).

John's songs evoked the peace and natural beauty of Colorado long before I came here.   It's no surprise that Rocky Mountain High has been made one of the state's official songs!

The snow-covered John Denver Sanctuary
So on this visit to Aspen, I was keen to discover the John Denver Sanctuary, tucked in the corner of a downtown park by the Rio Grande.

I find the sanctuary blanketed in a layer of snow, with only scattered boulders and a icy pond poking their way through the white.

Further in, a boulder points to John's Song Garden, a section of the sanctuary where the words to some of his most famous lyrics have been carved into stone.

The garden consists of a tight cluster of boulders standing by the frozen stream.

Sanctuary seems to be the perfect word for this place.  The afternoon sun in streaming down before it falls behind Aspen Mountain and plunges the town into shadows.   The only sound is the trickle of the river underneath the snow and ice.

Some of the "classics" are here like Rocky Mountain High, Perhaps Love (personal favourite) and Sunshine on My Shoulders, but I can't seem to find Annie's Song (which I know is here somewhere, but perhaps buried under the snow?).

I like that Aspen have chosen to remember John, not by the usual statue or plague, but with a natural space through which you can wander.   It's particularly fitting given John's support of environmental causes during his life.

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