Living here all year long (albeit, part time), I’ve come to prize the solitude and quiet, where the loudest noise is the wind through the pine trees. For most of the year, I can walk on the roads and see no one, take shortcuts through people’s property without intruding on their privacy. I find out what cabins are down the road, where the road leads, discover intimate aspen groves and spectacular rock formations, views I didn’t know existed.
But then starting in May, the summer troops (many who own cabins) start descending, and it feels a little like being invaded. On my walks I’m seeing lines of horseback riders, groups of visitors out for walks, dogs running free and people wearing helmets riding on ATVs; and hearing loud music emanate from cabins. Except for the ATVs, I’m glad to see all these people enjoying this beautiful valley, but it doesn’t feel like the same place as it does the rest of the year. Maybe I see it differently because I lived through the winters, when 70-mph winds flattened the landscape into one big whiteout and the temperature dropped to 3 degrees. I know with certainty that these warm ripe days won’t last forever.
At the same time the human visitors are departing, a lot of animal transients are heading for better climates. Last week, I counted one hummingbird among the willow bushes that were thronged all summer with the small irascible birds. Last week, I saw only one ground squirrel, and the swallows that criss-crossed the sky over the meadow all summer have headed for warmer places, as apparently have the bluebirds. Meanwhile, the yellow-rumped warblers are migrating through, minus their brilliant blue plumage. But new guests just arrived: A flock of 10 to 15 wild turkeys have been quietly munching their way through my yard, their heads down to look for food, not even seeing me sitting on the porch watching them.
In truth, we’re all visitors. Some of us get to spend more time here all year long, while some just drop in for a few months, but eventually we’ll all move on, and a new bunch of residents will take over. We’re all migrating through, on our way to a different place, hopefully one where the aspens stay green, the creeks sing and the hummingbirds dazzle forever.