Aspenfest

We headed up to the national forest yesterday, just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. The aspens were glorious, at their peak in many places. Heading onto a rough and pitted dirt road, we found beautiful stands of trees twinkling in the October sun.

Don’t let this dirt road fool you; just out of sight it rose sharply and began to attack the underside of the car:

I stopped to enjoy the trees. This cluster invited me in, closer and closer, until I was enveloped in brilliant gold:

At my feet, wild roses had bloomed like a carpet throughout the aspen stand. Rosehips glowed bright red:

Above was the impossibly blue October sky, though a storm was brewing over Long’s Peak. Is there anything more invigorating than aspen gold framed in October sky?

We hiked up the road, enjoying the utter quiet. (Except for recreational shooting. Thank goodness that ended too.) Clouds gathered large over Long’s Peak, showers hanging in the air in front of the mountain. It was time to head back down before rain slicked the steep and rolling dirt road.

At the bottom of the road I sat for a while in a grove of trees doing my favorite kind of meditation: focusing in turn on each of the senses. The sun had retreated behind gray clouds, though patches of blue sky were still visible:

With my fingertips I felt the long blades of soft green grass beside me, a few feathery wisps of yarrow peeking out between crackly brown leaves. The ground was cool but not cold beneath me, the breeze comfortably warm. The smell of the aspens was lively and ancient at once, like wood freshly hollowed. I reached for the nearest trunk, feeling the smooth velvet of its bark. When I withdrew my palm, a film of white powder coated it. Two chickadees called from opposing corners, working their quick way toward each other. I listened to chickadees and quiet.

Now the wind began to rise, sending the whole grove into a chorus of crackling. Washes of crisp leaves were chattering to the ground. I watched them flutter through the air then light gently on the earth. Could I sit here so quietly that I too could be covered by leaves? It will of course happen, though I hope not for decades.

I took a deeper breath. Ahhh! How much I’d needed this breeze, these leaves! Scooping a few more handfuls of crisp fallen leaves, I stood and headed for the car.

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