It’s different up here than down on the plains. Instead of the almost gaudy colors of the pink crabapple blossoms, red and purple tulips and yellow forsythia, in Meeker Park, we get the translucent seed heads of the aspen (below). In the sunlight, they have a pinkish tinge, and on first glance can fool you into thinking that cherry blossoms are suddenly blooming at 8500 feet.
Mount Meeker is still white but some of the hillsides are turning green. And every week there’s a new first of the season. Last week, I spotted a ground squirrel on the woodpile across the road, yesterday a robin on the ground and a swallow camped out on the power line. I wake up every morning to bird cries I haven’t heard since last summer.
For the first time since January, I can see all three of my solar driveway lights, buried for most of the winter in a snowdrift. Around the yard, a few shoots of green grass are mixed in with the still brown blades.
There’s the new sound of rushing water, as the snow cover over Tahosa Creek pulls back to reveal brown churning, hurried by snow melting on top of the high peaks. Meanwhile, the South St. Vrain is reclaiming itself as a river, slowly building to its June roar. Since last September’s floods drained most of the water out of the river, what remained was a small brook, or maybe it just seemed that way because the canyon had gotten so much bigger after being scoured by water and rocks.
In Rocky Mountain National Park, above 9500 feet, the snow is still deep. This week, on a foot bridge across the creek, my hiking boots were level with the handrails, and trail signs were below the trail, still buried in four feet of snow (right). But down below in the valleys, new grasses are pulling up from the earth, and the deer and elk have emerged from wherever they’ve been hiding all winter, most likely in the trees, to dine on these fresh greens after a straight diet all winter of yesterday’s dried grasses.
In my front yard last week, the pasqueflowers were just emerging, barely an inch or two above the dirt. But this week a good four or five inches of new snow covered the ground where I had last seen them. That’s it, I thought, these small fragile beings are crushed under the snow. But they have a resiliency, some urge to survive, that is both a mystery and inspiration to me. How can something so small and fragile be so tough?
When the sun came out the next day, melting the sun, the flowers sprang back from their comatose state, taller than before. And my heart breaks with tenderness.