Entries in autumn (16)
I have, apparently, become impossible to hike with.
This weekend was one of peaks for fall color - which, in Colorado's high country means everything is yellow yellow yellow. That's because aspens are basically the only deciduous trees in the mountains and they turn gold in autumn.
Aspen trees are as charming as they come, to my mind. Standing armies of stark white trunks, quivering heart-shaped leaves, a delicate rustling sound. Also, they share a root system, so while they may look like individual trees, they are really one big interconnected community. This appeals to me on a metaphorical level.
I was preoccupied with finding the perfect aspen grove and capturing that fleeting, magical fall feeling.
But this weekend reaffirmed my suspicion that a photowalk is best undertaken solo. It doesn't adhere to the logical forward progression of the trail. It is winding and slow and moves in fits and starts, guided by generally imperceptible shifts in light and shadow and halted by tiny details.
I noticed this weekend that it is probably only minimally enjoyable for, say, a squirmy 35-pound-toddler or the lucky patient strong parent who must carry him.
My hope is that fresh mountain air and quivering golden aspen leaves are their own reward.
I kind of promised myself that I wasn't going to post anymore glaringly obvious content here, like NEWSFLASH! It's Fall! And now I'm breaking that promise. It's just that I like the way these leaves are turning red but the veins are still the green of summer. And carrying this camera around at all times has, if nothing else, tuned me into the details in a way I'm not sure I've been before.
And I like this:
Photography produces pleasure by simplicity. I see something special and show it to the camera.
~ Sam Abell
My childhood friend, Rainy, came to Colorado this weekend for the first time in well over a decade. I spent the weekend showing her around some of my favorite places in the high country, places so very different from where we grew up in North Carolina, but which evoke a certain familiar nostalgia for the rural children we were way back then.
Rainy remembers everything. I mean everything. She could probably tell you exactly what I was wearing on the day we met. When we were four.
I, on the other hand, have a selective memory. But what I do remember is now bathed in a warm golden light like it was captured on a roll of film from 1970-something, or like it has that fleeting melancholy feel of an Indian summer day.
Old friend. Long memories. Golden light. I like it that way.
There are things which are not interesting to talk about. Like how busy you are. Or how, after being yanked out of your semi-organized life to go to New Jersey for a work trip, all the precariously fit-together trappings of your routine - like your morning runs, or your nightly blogging - take a while to fit again. Or that's the story I tell myself.
It is possible, likely even, that you are witnessing a demonstration of one of my least favorite things about myself: difficulty finishing things. It doesn't matter whether those things are going well or not. In fact, it seems the better they are going the less likely I am to put a graceful button on them. (See also: last year's half-marathon, my unfulfilled intention to return to Burning Man this year, the myriad almost-completely-used bottles and tubes of expensive skin or haire care products on my bathroom shelf, etc. etc. etc.) It is not a charming characteristic.
Also it is probably not interesting, unless you are my shrink or my mother. If you are my mother you probably want to have a coaching session with me after you read this.
Then there are things which are not really interesting to talk about, but which are interesting to observe. For me the change of seasons falls into this category. We spent the long Labor Day weekend in the mountains and all my senses were alive with the notice of change. Brisk morning and evening air, long shadows, grasses gone to seed, the brittle sound of fall plant life brushing your legs on the trail.
A farmer in Alaska once asked me if I thought it would make you smarter to climb a different mountain every day, or to climb the same mountain every day. Having spent most of my life as an avowed wanderer the answer was obvious to me at the time. He disagreed with me.
But this trail, which I first saw at the height of wildflower season this summer, has me thinking that there's something to be said for returning to the same place over and over. I walked along noticing all the millions of subtle little changes and the wisdom ingrained in the natural cycle of this place as each individual organism prepares for winter, prepares to put a graceful button on this year's project.
Also, we had a lot of fun. So much so that it was hard to sit down at my computer in the midst of it all.
So bear with me please. I'm not giving up on Bird. I'm just trying to find my way back to the routine.