It was early October, and I didn't expect to have to fight my way through a snowstorm to reach Vail. I also didn't expect to wake up to 26 degrees. But this view, framed by a rickety wooden bridge, almost made it worthwhile. As the cold air bit at my cheeks and nose, I leaned over the bridge and stared at the blazing aspens, the snow covering the riverbank and weighing down the evergreen trees, and the early morning sunlight on the water. Only later did I notice the spider web interlacing the beams—the little flaw that turns pretty things into beautiful things.