Escaping last summer’s wildfire–and working on this issue–in Mongolia.

After my husband and I exchanged vows years ago, we walked back down the aisle with our golden retriever to the song “We Are Family.” It seemed an appropriate way to mark the start of our new adventure together. I still have a soft spot for the song.

That may have something to do with using it as the name for our family fun feature in this issue. To help you home in on the best ways to enjoy Aspen and Snowmass with kids in tow, Aspen Sojourner contributing editor Catherine Lutz put her own knowledge as a mom of two budding ski bums to good use. She also got plenty of input from other parents. Whether you’re here for a week or you’re a seasoned local, Catherine’s research will help you discover a fun kids’ tree trail you didn’t know about or a new activity to try on an off-mountain day.

Family also plays a key role in our Design Story. Writer Julie Comins delved into the renovation of renowned photographer Ferenc Berko’s former studio in the West End. The coolest aspect? The studio is now part of a duplex that houses Berko’s daughter and her husband on one side; his granddaughter, her husband, and their young son on the other. That means four generations of one family have ties to a plot of land and to a building that’s pretty much a family heirloom. Celebrated Aspen architect Harry Teague linked the old and new through an innovative design that’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.

Also in this issue you’ll find our annual Sojourner Salutes honorees. We always spend a lot of time discussing whom to honor in this feature, but this year one choice was searingly obvious: the firefighters who responded to the massive Lake Christine Fire, which threatened the Roaring Fork Valley in Basalt, El Jebel, and Missouri Heights for weeks last summer. (I just hope we never need to salute them again.)

Katherine Roberts, director of marketing and communications at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, wrote an account (page 59) about what it was like to try to pack up her life in 10 minutes and vacate her home for six nights while the fire burned threateningly close. It’s the kind of thing you imagine only in your worst dreams—until it happens to you in broad daylight. Luckily my own family didn’t have to evacuate, though we live less than a mile from where the fire started; a highway and a river between us and there provided a barrier. That didn’t stop me from packing as much as I could squeeze into my Mini Cooper, ready to go if the call came, Thankfully, I’d already planned a trip far away—to Mongolia.

With fresh snow on the ground as I write this, and the crisp promise of winter and skiing in the air, the hot, dusty days of that wildfire seem long ago. But the worry about future conflagrations, as a warming climate and drought seem entrenched in the West, and the gratitude toward those firefighters remain just as strong. The fire did have one silver lining: During that time of crisis, our community rallied and the bonds between neighbors strengthened—you could say we became more of a family.

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