Tag Archive | fall colors

Fall

I’m grateful for another beautiful fall day. The brief brutal cold of ‘pre-winter’ has passed. Nights are mild in the twenties and thirties, and days warm up thirty degrees or more. The moon has filled and slowly wanes, days are bright with sun in bluebird skies. (I never understood the ‘bluebird sky’ until I saw a mountain bluebird male.) It’s perfect weather. I’m grateful the old dog is still alive to enjoy a few short wobbles through the woods with Topaz tagging along. Grateful to be learning from him just how much gentleness I possess, and how much more I can stand to grow.

I’m grateful for the golden beauty of my imperfect little aspen tree, its symmetry twisted by a heavy snow years ago. Like me, the tree is flawed but doing its best. I’m grateful for awareness and humility. I’m grateful for the winding down that comes with fall, a welcome transition between the rollicking thrill of garden season and the respite of winter’s hibernation.

I’m grateful too, for the first ever two-part Zoom Cooking with Amy. Tonight we snacked with cocktails, then whipped up a sweet, soft dough for morning. After the dough rests in the fridge overnight, we’ll reconvene with coffee to bake…to be continued!

Letting Go

I might as easily have chosen to highlight my gratitude for the Bibiliofillies, but I am grateful today for letting go. I’m grateful for the capacity to quit reading a book, or watching a show, or otherwise removing my attention from one thing and turning it to another. This is the very essence of mindfulness, the ability and willingness to choose where we place our attention.

Tonight, the Bibliofillies met on zoom to discuss our month’s selection, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, by George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo, which we read awhile ago. The latter was a work of fiction; tonight’s subject, an academic analysis of numerous classic Russian short stories, and the arts of writing, and of reading. (I can’t tell you how many stories, because I didn’t get past the first chapter.) A few fillies loved it; some were almost neutral; the rest of us, well, to say we despised it would be an exaggeration, but needless to say the various opinions made for lively discussion. This is why I’m grateful, at least once a month, for the Bibiliofillies.

I bristled at the author’s (a middle-aged white man) initial assumption that he knew what I was thinking. From there it went downhill. Though I did find some redeeming features in what I read, I did not want to keep reading, one of Saunders’ essential criteria for a successful short story. My perspective aside, (for what does it matter anyway?), having this safe place to express it, laugh about it, adapt it, is… priceless.

It’s essential to adapting to be able to let go. There is so much to let go of every single day. I’m grateful that I can let go of attachment to ‘my’ point of view more and more often these days.

Life is so much easier now that I’m simply letting things be as they are, instead of trying to control them. I also used to bristle when people told me, “You think too much!” Turns out they were right, but for the wrong reasons. And if I didn’t hang onto an emotion, I couldn’t consider that it mattered. Letting go was never easy for me. So I clung to, among other things, my own judgements, expectations, mistakes; I harbored grudges, fed them with repetition. Michael was right: I did have a ‘victim mentality.’

Death is certain, time of death uncertain.

I’m so grateful that I’m learning to let go, of everything. Emotions can actually flow through, and that doesn’t make them less real or less valid. The faster I let go, the faster I learn the lesson. The lesson I learned this month was that I don’t have to finish reading every book, or watching every episode of every season of a show, or a movie to the end. I don’t always need to know what happens next: as in a bad dream, I can take my attention by the hand and walk away. I can choose where to spend my precious attention. I don’t know how much I have left. I’m grateful for letting go of things that don’t nurture me.

I’m grateful for the salutary effects of prednisone, which have given Stellar new strength to walk to the canyon. Today may have been the last time; or maybe not. Living in this strenuous uncertainty requires focus almost as complete as blowing glass: anything you drop could be catastrophic.
Stellar was excited to see his buddies at Boyz Lunch today, as they were to see him looking so lively. I’m grateful for the option of gently, comfortably, letting go of this magnificent life that has graced my own for nearly fourteen years. And grateful for the geezers, too.
I’m grateful for endless cherry tomatoes from the garden this summer; grateful to still have the stoneware bowl my mother made fifty years ago that holds them; grateful even so to know that if the bowl one day breaks I can easily let it go; and grateful for the imminent relief of letting go of garden maintenance, as we approach a hard freeze six nights away from now.

The Last Hummingbird

Not quite last, this very tired young hummingbird roosted on a broken sunflower stalk a couple of inches above the ground for hours on October second.

Not quite last, this very tired young hummingbird roosted on a broken sunflower stalk a couple of inches above the ground for hours on October 2nd. Intermittently he’d fly up and drink some nectar from the bountiful hummingbird mint, Agastache, that seemed to be a godsend for a lot of late birds. It’s still blooming! I’ve seen two more since this one, the latest last Wednesday, October 8th: a record in my 14 years taking note.

Not only the hummingbirds but bumblebees and wasps are enjoying the long-lasting blossoms of Agastache

Not only the hummingbirds but bumblebees and wasps are enjoying the long-lasting blossoms of this licorice-scented Agastache. 

IMG_3616

 

Sandhill cranes spiral up and out..

Sandhill cranes spiral and soar overhead on their raucous way south.

A lone monarch was lucky to find some nectar left on late-blooming Gallardia.

A lone monarch was lucky to find some nectar left in late-blooming Gallardia.

IMG_3898 IMG_3928

 

Snapdragons still blooming profusely are also providing late nectar for hummingbirds and bees, their colors and velvety texture keeping some hot spots in the garden’s yellowing autumn palette.

 

 

A honeybee seeking something along the turning leaf of the Amur maple beside the hive.

A honeybee seeking something along the turning leaf of the Amur maple beside the hive.

IMG_3700 IMG_3646

For a few weeks, rabbitbrush was buzzing...

For a few weeks, rabbitbrush was buzzing…

Saddlebags

Preparing for a show in spring, we’re naming all the bees again. This one is Saddlebags.

...and in photographing bees, I found this tiny little creature which appears to belong to a group called Micromoths.

…and in photographing bees, I found this tiny little creature which appears to belong to a group called Micromoths.

A honeybee hovered at a single late flax flower at my feet; I ran in to get the camera. In that one minute, the bee flew and its breeze blew four petals off the bloom.

A honeybee hovered at a single late flax flower at my feet; I ran in to get the camera. In that one minute, the bee flew and its breeze blew four petals off the bloom.

Checking on the medicinal herb I found this tiny white spider.

Checking on the medicinal herb I found this tiny white spider.

Garlic chives are the early October "bee-tree," swarming with honeybees, flies, and small wild bees...

Garlic chives are the early October “bee-tree,” swarming with honeybees, flies, and small wild bees…

IMG_3465

...and also appealing to a few moths.

…and also appealing to a few moths.

a drive to town

IMG_4618

Riding with my neighbor down the hill I realized I had an opportunity not to miss. I asked her to pull over at the bottom, in the hairpin turn where Buck Canyon emerges and crosses under the road on its path to the Smith Fork River. She opened the sunroof and let me stand on the seat and ride like a prom queen up the hill to Crawford, slowing down or stopping when I asked.

Looking back uphill from the hairpin turn.

Looking back uphill from the hairpin turn.

Heading towards the Smith Fork.

Heading towards the Smith Fork.

Crossing the Smith Fork.

Crossing the Smith Fork.

Looking down into the Smith Fork past the power line.

Looking down into the Smith Fork past the power line.

Towards the Crawford Reservoir dam, and beyond, Mendicant Ridge.

Towards the Crawford Reservoir dam, and beyond, Mendicant Ridge.

On the other side of town, coming down Buckskin Pass to Piburn Flats.

On the other side of town, coming down Buckskin Pass to Piburn Flats.

Rocky on my knee looking out the window to Needle Rock with the Sleeping Indian beyond clothed in snow.

Rocky on my knee looking out the window to Needle Rock with the Sleeping Indian beyond clothed in snow.

Heading home, we took the back road cut from 92 to Hotchkiss to scoot past the stripe painters poking along the highway.

Heading home, we took the back road cut from 92 to Hotchkiss to scoot past the stripe painters poking along the highway.

We stopped at the Hotchkiss bridge so I could shoot the river...

We stopped at the Hotchkiss bridge so I could shoot the river…

... and pulled out right behind the stripe painter!

… and pulled out right behind the stripe painter!

the day the birch tree lost its leaves

IMG_4916

 

Yesterday the winds before the storm blew through the yard, and the birch tree, splendid yellow until then, lost its leaves. I stood for quite awhile in the glory of their blowing flying falling, watching and hearing the essence of autumn. Potted snapdragons, pansies and petunias still punctuate the patio with pops of vivid color, while the trees and shrubs I’ve planted in the past decade have finally filled the yard with fall color. The peach tree orange, scarlet maple, and one rosebush somewhere between; the tiny aspen quaking gold, and the beautiful big birch showering me with lovely yellow leaves like petals. Leaves! I have leaves!

Leaves of all colors blow, from snowberry and sand cherry, honeysuckle and rose, apple and crabapple, lilac, foresteria, forsythia; the apricot alone holds out, still mostly green but turning. I have leaves enough in my yard to rake, at last! But I will likely leave them where they lie, except I’ll rake the pink gravel paths; elsewhere they will stay in layers and piles where they fall, enriching the ground. All the grasses tawny and the seed heads tan and brown, the garden proves itself as gorgeous in late October as at the height of summer bloom. It’s been a long, lovely, and loving autumn. Today is grey with rain and snow on the way, and still the garden glows. A few more days or weeks, if we’re lucky a month, some short span of time, and winter will be upon us.

October 2, the Amur maple in full scarlet splendor, the birch tree still green.

October 2, the Amur maple in full scarlet splendor, the birch tree still green.

October 6, morning walk to the rim of Buck Canyon with Raven and Stellar. The cottonwoods are beginning to peak and the oaks are still green.

October 6, morning walk to the rim of Buck Canyon with Raven and Stellar. The cottonwoods are beginning to peak and the oaks are still green.

October 9, suddenly all the deciduous shrubs and trees in the canyon are glowing.

October 9, suddenly all the deciduous shrubs and trees in the canyon are glowing.

IMG_4532 IMG_4536

October 12, the colors continue to intensify.

October 12, the colors continue to intensify.

Gloves and digger in the garden.

Gloves and digger in the garden.

Pulling another batch of carrots and harvesting more parsley. Both have been bountiful and delicious, making me feel oh so healthy. A couple of carrots grated super fine, mixed in with a big bunch of finely chopped parsley, a few cherry tomatoes, some lemon or lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, makes a wonderfully energizing and refreshing salad.

Pulling another batch of carrots and harvesting more parsley. Both have been bountiful and delicious, making me feel oh so healthy. A couple of carrots grated super fine, mixed in with a big bunch of finely chopped parsley, a few cherry tomatoes, some lemon or lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, makes a wonderfully energizing and refreshing salad.

Second harvest of Sangre de Cristo potatoes yields abundant spuds. Allegedly good keepers, we'll see.

Second harvest of Sangre de Cristo potatoes yields abundant spuds. Allegedly good keepers, we’ll see.

October 13, the Wall of Inebriation holds back the flow of color from the berm, notably burgundy hardy plumbago, and another Amur maple. This one never has gone scarlet, but tends toward orange.

October 13, the Wall of Inebriation holds back the flow of color from the berm, notably burgundy hardy plumbago, and another Amur maple. This one never has gone scarlet, but tends toward orange.

October 13, the maple in the bee bed has lost half its leaves, as the birch begins to turn yellow.

October 13, the maple in the bee bed has lost half its leaves, as the birch begins to turn yellow.

Back at the canyon on an afternoon walk. Living inside a kaleidoscope...

Back at the canyon on an afternoon walk. Living inside a kaleidoscope…

October 20, the canyon just keeps on giving. This is undeniably its most glorious time, and this year it's been especially spectacular.

October 20, the canyon just keeps on giving. This is undeniably its most glorious time, and this year it’s been especially spectacular.

Looking northeast across Buck Canyon toward the West Elk Mountains.

Looking northeast across Buck Canyon toward the West Elk Mountains.

Picking up poo in the yard a couple of times a week is a quiet meditation that I actually enjoy. More about that some other time. Here, a colorful surprise, Nicrophorus marginatus, a burying beetle; I left that load for later.

Picking up poo in the yard a couple of times a week is a quiet meditation that I actually enjoy. More about that some other time. Here, a colorful surprise, Nicrophorus marginatus, a burying beetle; I left that load for later.

The bees still fly about a lot on a fine day like this one, but other colder days are hunkered down in the hive. Time for straw bales and insulating panels.

The bees still fly about a lot on a fine day like this one, but other colder days are hunkered down in the hive. Time for straw bales and insulating panels.

October 28, the day the birch tree lost its leaves.

October 28, the day the birch tree lost its leaves.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The last little core of the tiniest ripe apple ever, the tenth and last from my Fuji tree this year. Apple production at Mirador went up more than 100% from any previous year!

Yet apples appear to come of their own volition from friends with bigger trees than mine.

The apricot tree just keeps on giving. After a full fruit crop enjoyed by birds, chipmunks, and me, she gave golden color for weeks last month.

I marvel at the things I’ve planted and nurtured and what they have done this autumn. I haven’t seen a mature fall here in my yard for a long long time. All these shrubs and trees I’ve planted, Nanking cherry, chokecherry, aspen, birch, maple, apricot, honeysuckle, lilac, snowberry, sumac, plum, roses, and more, their leaves turning all kinds of colors all fall long, then dropping to color carpet the garden ground, they’ll mulch and then break down to feed the soil. Such a rich gift. All the grasses going blonde and orange and shades between yellow and green, swaying in the breeze and popping off seeds. I have been visually wallowing in this waxing embrace of autumn.

“May I be a bride forever married to amazement,” Janis quoted Mary Oliver, and yes, may I. We have cold now, the trees in a day lost their leaves. Until just this last week, even as rifle shots reverberate from just up north along the canyon, honeybees still found nectar and pollen in the reproducing salvias, each multi-headed stem holding one, two, a few single tiny blue blossoms. Nepeta reblooms a third or fourth time. There’s an art to cutting back, knowing what to cut back how far and when.

The bees are put to bed, their hive surrounded by straw in a configuration that I hope will insulate the hive and prevent snow from blowing in their front door, now well fortified with a propolis barrier lined with a few bee-sized holes. I wish I could see a cross-section of this cold-barricade, it looks as though some of the holes go straight in, and others curve or angle with yet more protection behind. On warm days they continue to come and go a few at a time; but often when I stop to check on them there is not a bee to be seen, or just one, looking slow and cold, guarding the threshold.

Meanwhile, the last fresh tomato sandwich of the season has been eaten, on Halloween.

And the first spinach of winter harvested this morning! Just a few thinnings from the spinach, cilantro, and mustard greens thriving in the caterpillar. Such a treat to harvest fresh greens in November, and it looks like the setup will provide well into winter.

A cottonwood leaf falls into the scene at Crawford State Park, where the reservoir is the lowest I’ve ever seen. The apparent sandbar just under the leaf is actually the bed of the old highway from before the dam.

 

 

 

 

Bittersweet Monday

 

Warm, sunny days full of color, adventure, abundance; crystal cold nights chill tired bones.

Two Kittens

 

Two kittens, playing, leap the stream,

roll and wrestle, tag and tumble,

race, chase, grab and rumble,

scuffle under oaks through last year’s leaves.

Tawny mottled bodies vanish under summer trees.

The sound of their pouncing continues unseen.

 

Dogs on the rim stand rigid, aquiver,

engrossed in the antics below.

The cats crash back from deep shadows,

reach with sheathed claws in big soft paws,

leap, stretching in a single line ~

one behind the other holding on ~

they arc and spring, spring as one

upon a sapling, bend it to the ground.

 

Long tails white-tips flashing,

graceful lithe limbs thrashing,

ungainly kittens tangle with the boughs.

Oblivious to us above them on the canyon rim,

the first leaps out across the stream;

the second sprawls in the bowed canopy,

unhurried, unworried, spraddles the limbs,

bounces; wiggles to the ground.

 

The sapling springs upright.

A gift, a truly awesome sight,

wild feline abandon:

cougar cubs at play,

learning as they leap and run

the skills to catch their prey.

 

 

Tending a friend’s home I noticed this exquisite juxtaposition.

The old Rehobeth road, last Monday night, driving to a Kids’ Pasta Project dinner at Scenic Mesa Ranch. The warm cliffs always delight, and cottonwoods in the canyon glowed yellow on green.

The Smith Fork of the Gunnison flows through a private ranch as the canyon wends its way west toward the main river.

From the other side, looking back the way we came.

Below freezing the past two nights, brrrrr, and it took me all day to warm up. The first chill of winter is always hard to accept. But a small fire in the woodstove all afternoon kept the cold at bay, and I gathered in the last green tomatoes for pickles. Romas from the farm will bake into paste tomorrow, warming the house.

Science Experiment #17: a tiny fava bean harvest taught a lot. Too much water too late and not enough in the middle, while the pods were forming.

I steamed the small beans, but even with the last of the butter they were a little bitter. Venison steak with balsamic glaze and the last cherry tomatoes saved the day.

Tenacious flowers in pots make the patio glow.

 

Biko has been coming in at night since the cold rains a couple of weeks ago. I set him out in the south gravel every morning, where he basks until he’s warm enough to move. He found his special place this morning! Raven rolled for attention too.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 22

Stellar flies over a fallen aspen on the access to Ruby Anthracite trail.

Climbing up Kebler Pass Road yesterday.

Mount Marcellina

Driving Friday up on Kebler Pass. These fleeting fall colors. One cold blowing storm and they’re gone. It happens every fall. You look outside and see perfection, in aspen turning on the mountains, gold and warm, winter just a breath of frost away. “It is the perfect day,” you think, “I’ll go tomorrow.” It never fails. You wake and find that winter’s come: overnight, the trees are barren. But not this year! I’m taking advantage of every free half day to get up and out in it.

 

Maybe the most photographed patch of aspen on the planet.

 

Wednesday, September 19

Patience pays off.

Today my mother would have been 84. She loved my yard and would have been content to sit by the pond with me for hours, except for the bees…

Yesterday Ruth and I drove up on Grand Mesa, from the Colbran road off 133 up and across west to Overland Reservoir, then back down Stevens Gulch Road to Paonia. What a treat the colors were, despite the pervasive haze from fires far to the west.

Where we picnicked.

 

A half-day’s drive to enjoy all this, but still our back yard. Too grateful for words.