The Native Americans had a name for all the seasons—“when the geese return” or “when the creeks thaw.” Now at the cabin is the time when the pine cones are falling from the trees, when nature has decided it’s the most auspicious time for the ponderosas to try to reseed themselves. Working at my computer, I’m startled by the crashes, as the cones fall on the roof and porch, like some kind of tree artillery.
It’s also the time when the hummingbirds have returned from their winter havens. At the cabin last week, a warm evening, I wanted to absorb the last light of day, that fleeting time when everything is bathed with golden light as the sun gets ready to disappear behind Mount Meeker. I’ve finished my work for the day, and I just wanted to open all my senses to everything around me, turn off the thinking part of my brain.
Down the road, past Claudia’s house, the first thing I saw were the hummingbirds thick among the willow bushes, little bits of emerald green and red among the blooming pale yellow flowers and pale green leaves. It’s the nectar they want, and there seems plenty of it, but the thick bushes are also a good place to hide from predators as well as to launch their straight-up dizzying flights meant to dazzle the opposite sex. I don’t know about the female hummingbirds, but I’m impressed.
On the hillside, the last light hit a grove of young aspen trees, thin, girlish stalks that culminate in a burst of lime-colored leaves. In the thick woods along the creek the golden light burnishes the trees and bushes in 12 shades of green: from the somber pine needles to the pale willow leaves to the psychedelic aspen.
I thought about how we all have our time to love and enjoy this valley, and then we move on, while new people discover this place. I met a man last week who had been coming here for 50 years, but it was no longer the “Shangri-la” it once was, he told me. Life’s circumstances, including the death of his wife, had changed his feelings toward this valley.
For me, Meeker Park is still a paradise, especially this time of year when life is returning. But watching the seasons, as well as the people who come and go here, I get the sense of the cycle of life that keeps moving, whether we want it to or not. In only four months, these lime green aspen leaves will be replaced by golden ones, as nature retreats again and the cycle continues. All we can do is hang on for the ride, as long as it lasts.