What we see

Samain                                                                Bare Aspen Moon

Mist last month, Black Mountain
Mist last month, Black Mountain

The nearly full bare aspen moon stood over Shadow Mountain drive last night, bright and low enough to be poked by the lodgepole pine. Full moons up here alter the appearance of the mountains, sometimes putting them in lunar shadows, dark silhouettes against the late evening sky, and shining their ghostly light into clearings and onto roadways. They also light up the eyes of animals wandering through the Arapaho National Forest or crossing the road: mountain lions, mule deer, elk, black bear.

When I was a flatlander, I imagined mountains as always the same, like the Matterhorn, tall and rocky, always tall and rocky. Or, Mt. Everest, always snowy and cold. Now that I’m a mountain man I know they change appearance many times during each day and from season to season. The beauty of the mountains is usually stark, but stark for different reasons: snow one day, hoar frost on another, golden aspens one season, bare aspen in another.

Later in November
Later in November

Mountain streams like Cub Creek, Maxwell Creek, Bear Creek, Shadow Brook run fast and full in the late spring, slower during the summer and often freeze over in the winter. There are, also, particularly this close to Denver, seasonal fluctuations in traffic on mountain roads. When Kate and I moved here in December of 2014, we saw signs that said Heavy Roadside Activity. We couldn’t imagine what meant. Lots of earth moving equipment? Animals? It wasn’t until spring that parking at trail heads along our drive down to Evergreen began to fill up with cars, then spill over to the roadside and fill even what we came to recognize as overflow parking lots that had been covered by snow.

Right now? Invisible. It’s dark. No mountains out there according to my eyes.

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