Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,” said the poet Wordsworth, writing of the French Revolution a decade later – which goes to show that poets are not to be trusted about politics; but the sentiment is still fine, and is not unlike what we have felt lately about Durango as summer packed up and fall began.
Guatemala is sometimes called the land of eternal spring. The temperature in Guatemala City is usually 70 degrees or so with a mix of sun, clouds and light breezes. There are reasons other than the weather to make you think twice about taking up residence there, but we have been having Guatemala City weather, as we sometimes do, and it is glorious.
There is a story about another artist, of a bleaker cast, Samuel Beckett. He was out walking one spring day in his adopted Paris when a companion said, “A day like this makes you feel glad to be alive.”
Beckett paused and said, “I wouldn’t go that far.”
We would, about our early fall. What a splendid time, when the tourists, after having come and spent their money and paid the sales tax, have mostly decamped from Main Avenue and downtown is ours again.
In summer months, we often avoid downtown, especially on weekends, leaving them to it as they experiment with pot, or rev the dinning engines of their motorcycles, or try and fail to navigate the mix of traffic and pedestrians, making you wonder where on Earth they come from and what the laws are there. Perhaps they are better.
Those tourists have done right by us once again, and not just with their far-flung homes. You may have seen the Herald’s report the other day that sales tax collections for July were robust, following a similarly strong June. That includes additional revenue from the half-cent sales tax increase that took effect in July; adjusted for that, we still increased tax revenue.
So we are doing fine. We got through without another fire, and the 416 of 2018 so far seems to have done no lasting harm to Durango’s desirability as a destination. Those tourists are smart.
And we are resilient. The trees are starting to turn on the hillsides now, which might be the most predictable thing about nature these days and worth holding onto. Already, just before dawn, when the temperature has dipped below 40 degrees and we are still trying to get by with shorts and a windbreaker, we can feel winter like a gentle reminder – one of the gentler things in the environment these days, or so we are told. We believe it – and we will take that, too.
We do not know what should be the object of life, whether it is better to be consumed by unslaked ambition or to find contentment, but we have an inkling that the secret of happiness might consist in being happy with what you have.
Samuel Johnson said when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. We would not go that far about fall in Southwest, but if there is someone who cannot be happy with russet foliage against blue skies in sharp afternoon light, we extend our sympathy – and prescribe a long drive through the Hermosa Valley.