Vacation is ending tomorrow and we are all five filled with remorse. “I’m never going to get to go to Paradise again!” cries my four-year-old at bedtime, and though he is referring to a wonderful bakery and ice cream shop he’s only recently discovered, he might as well have been being metaphoric and giving voice to that anxiety on all our behalfs, because for us Aspen, Colorado is indeed just that: a kind of paradise. It’s our third trip here as a family and much as we all like to see the world and get outside the U.S. and the somewhat narrow world we inhabit, there is undeniably something special, and especially relaxing, about coming back to this place we know and each time getting to know it just a little better. Whereas last year my kids were all just learning to ski, my two older ones are now real intermediates, Buttermilk habitués who are excited to return to that mountain, but also eager to move on to the challenges of Highlands and Ajax. Just this afternoon my four-year-old went on his first chairlift up to his first summit and skied the whole way down, only falling twice. “Try and remember to bring back his ski school card next year,” his instructor advised at pickup, “because when you show up with a five year old and say he can ski down the mountain, the instructors aren’t really going to believe you.” Eager for him not to regress and proud of his accomplishment, my husband dutifully packs our son’s ski school card away with his own helmet so it wont get lost in the shuffle. Implicit in this transaction, as in all our talk about what we’ve done, and haven’t done, and want to do, is this notion that we will indeed be back. And that no matter what happens, how much we may change, how much the kids will change, we can take comfort in knowing that come next spring Paradise awaits.