Aspen Colorado: Remembrance of things past

We all have our madeleines.  For Marcel Proust, in Remembrance of Things Past, it was tea and cookies. For me, it was aspen trees and the mountains beyond. We had just checked into our suite at Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen Colorado. I looked out the wall of windows in the living room and saw a meadow with a stand of aspens with the mountains as a backdrop. I found myself remembering….

Aspen Coolorado

A mound in Anderson Park  with guest rooms behind, Aspen Meadows Resort, photo/Steve Collins

I was back at Goat Hill, a small summer camp between Woodstock and Saugerties, New York. I was six years old. Substitute birch trees for aspens and a verdant mountain for the rocky one, but sense memory is an elusive thing. Who knows what creates these connections?

Because, it took me back to a time and place that was so special to me, I immediately fell in love with Aspen Meadows. Its Bauhaus-influenced mid-century buildings and corresponding décor and art all harked back to my childhood in the 50s. And, there was a decided summer camp feel. This resort that plays host to household names from A-list Hollywood stars to world-famous musicians, artists, intellectuals, scientists, financiers and more, started life as a bit of a summer retreat for adults; Goat Hill for grown-ups.

Aspen Colorado

Ferenc Berko photos on our living room wall, (inspiring aspens on the right) photo/Steve Collins

Aspen Meadows was designed by Bauhaus architect, Herbert Bayer in the early ‘50s. The rooms are filled with built-in furniture and pieces from design icons of that era. One of the stark Ferenc Berko black and white photos on our wall was of two aspen trees. Again, memories of Goat Hill and the birch trees returned.  I’m not the photographer in this outfit, but I grabbed the camera and went out the patio door and began shooting.


Two aspens inspired by Ferenc Berko , photo/Billie Frank

That day and the next, when we toured the extensive grounds the resort shares with the prestigious Aspen Institute,  my mind kept going back  to Goat Hill and my childhood summers spent in and around Woodstock.  Fifties era (and later) sculptures scattered around the grounds, the closeness with nature, the beauty, even an original Buckminster Fuller dome; Aspen Meadows Resort claimed a place in my heart. We shall return.

Aspen Colorado

The Kaleido Screen 1957 sculpture by Herbert Bayer, photo/Steve Collins

A bit about Berko and the Aspen Institute:
Ferenc Berko was a Hungarian-born photographer with connections to the Bauhaus movement. Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke brought him to Aspen in 1949 to photograph the event they hosted to celebrate Johann Goethe’s 200th birthday. The event was a great success.  Over2,000 people from around the world attended, including Albert Schweitzer, Jose Ortega y Gasset, Thornton Wilder, and Arthur Rubinstein. The following year, the Paepkes started the Aspen Institute; the “ideal gathering place for thinkers, leaders, artists, and musicians from all over the world to step away from their daily routines and reflect on the underlying values of society and culture.” Berko moved to Aspen and lived there for over 50 years. Aspen Meadows Resort began as the dorms for the Institute. It became a year-round resort in 1992.

Aspen Colorado

A deer at Aspen Meadows, photo/Steve Collins

We were guests of Aspen Meadows Resort. Their generous hospitality did not influence this post in any way.

This post is part of a blog carnival Travels Down Memory Lane.


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16 Responses to “Aspen Colorado: Remembrance of things past”

  1. Just One Boomer (Suzanne)
    February 10, 2019 at 7:52 pm #

    As you know, I’ve been tripping down Memory Lane myself lately. And the triggers can be very mundane— like even an elevator ride with groceries.

    Did you see anyone famous — or who thinks they’re famous or who’s famous for being famous. I’m looking at you Paris Hilton — and anyone whose last name is Kardashian.

    • Billie Frank
      February 10, 2019 at 8:08 pm #

      We were there the night before the amazing Aspen and Wine Classic. The town was full of all sorts of Hollywood-type folks. I never recognize anyone or rarely. I recognized Tommy Lee Jones, but that was more by voice than face.

  2. Jerome Shaw
    February 23, 2019 at 10:11 am #

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    As I recall Berko had a studio and/or gallery in downtown Aspen when I moved there in 1977. I remember meeting him a couple of times. He was quite generous with encouragement to aspiring photogs, of which I was one. I wish they’d have a retrospective of his work in Apsen. (if they haven’t already)

    Jerome Shaw

    @JeromeShaw on Twitter

    • Billie Frank
      February 23, 2019 at 11:26 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it! Didn’t know you lived in Aspen. Cool that you met Berko. Love his photos. As he worked closely with the Aspen Institute, they’d be a great place to ask if there’s been or will be a retrospective.

  3. Irene S. Levine
    July 10, 2019 at 5:41 pm #


    How coincidental. We just visited Saugerties, New York. What a lovely town that seems to have stood still in time.

    Best, Irene

    • Billie Frank
      July 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm #

      Whenever I hear the word “Saugerties” so many memories get triggered. Not only did I spend a lot of time in the area growing up, we raised our son in the Hudson Valley (on the other side of the river) and spent much time in the area. I wonder if it’s still the same or if time has changed it a lot.

  4. Cathy Sweeney
    July 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm #

    Lovely when such nice memories come to mind. It is surprising sometimes what will trigger them. You brought back some pleasant Colorado memories for me with the aspen tree pic.

    • Billie Frank
      July 11, 2019 at 12:34 pm #

      We have a slew of Colorado memories. Some time I’ll write about my first Colorado trip- it was epic. Me and my dog, Hoving.

  5. Patti
    July 11, 2019 at 1:54 pm #

    Somehow, we haven’t yet explored Colorado - not sure why. I spent 5 days in Denver but was stuck in a conference for work so I don’t count that. I do love Aspen trees!

  6. Jackie Smith
    July 20, 2019 at 5:28 am #

    Your post on aspens triggered a memory of a trip we took to Colorado (our first and only) for a meeting Joel attended. It was fall and the aspens were in their glory. . .I purchased a small gold charm for my ‘travel bracelet’ to remind me of those golden leaves that surrounded us at Little Nell.

    • Billie Frank
      July 20, 2019 at 8:13 am #

      Perfect! The aspens triggered a memory for me and the post brought on back for you. That’s something I love to hear as a writer. I was moved to share my moment — it feels good to discover that what you wrote affected a reader.

  7. Marcia
    July 21, 2019 at 6:23 am #

    Beautiful place with a rich history. It seems and ‘feels’ so peaceful there. The perfect place for reflection.

  8. Mike
    July 31, 2019 at 4:58 pm #

    I came to this from Trip Down Memory Lane post by Boomeresque. I’ve only driven through Colorado a few times (I live in Reno) but I’ve always had a great admiration and infatuation with your state. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Billie Frank
      July 31, 2019 at 5:12 pm #

      Glad you found it. Actually, as our name implies, we live in Santa Fe, NM. We moved here from CO almost 10 years ago. We travel to CO a bunch as it’s really close and beautiful. So’s NM- but in a very different way.

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