What a difference three weeks makes. The last time I was at the cabin, I complained about the heat while painting the trim around the window on the east side. The slopes of Mount Meeker were bare, and the aspens were still golden.
But when I came back this week after my vacation I found that winter had moved in. Mount Meeker had roused itself from its summer stupor and was aswirl in snow blown by 40 mph winds that shook the cabin. The aspens have been stripped of their all their leaves, the chipmunks have departed for their winter dens, and Tahosa Creek is covered with a thin layer of ice.
Compared to three weeks ago, everything seems lifeless, and my first impulse was to go back to Boulder, where the trees are still golden, my lawn is still green, and a few flowers are still blooming. In comparison, the mountain landscape seems dull and washed out. I felt a brief sense of irrational anger: I wanted my beautiful landscape back, the one with flowers and green bushes and lush stands of aspen. Now, there’s nothing here to distract me: no cute chipmunks, no purple columbine, not even the possibility of a bear wandering by.
But when I went for a walk around Meeker Park, I started feeling the power of this place again. Away from the trees around my cabin, I could see Mount Meeker in all its glory, massive, imposing, covered from top to bottom in a shawl of blowing snow. From out of nowhere, a red-tailed hawk drifted over the trees, carried by the strong winds. The few leaves left on the willow bushes gleamed among the darker bushes, and the red rosehips looked like Christmas ornaments on the leafless wild rose bushes.
On the bridge over Tahosa Creek, when I looked through the ice, I could see the still golden leaves trapped under the ice, churning in some ghostly existence (left). The wind shook the trees, creating a constant low roar that sometimes escalated into a frenzy of tree bending and bowing. That night, when I stepped outside, the sky was full of stars, framed by the pointed tops of the ponderosas, like the tips of paint brushes.
The next day, the weather warmed up again, climbing into the 50s, warm enough to sit outside on the porch and enjoy the sun on my face, watch the crows congregate. Rather than wanting to go home, I started finding excuses to prolong my stay here. I found myself scrubbing the sink again and carrying my belongings to the car in four trips rather than two, so I could stretch out the time here.
The summer beauty may be gone but the wildness is still here. And so is the utter silence, which is not the lack of noise but something that fills my soul. Instead of running away, I settle back into myself.