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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Autumn's glory

I love seeing sunsets again, now that the sun goes to bed during our evening hike. The mosaic of clouds almost hid the mountains yesterday evening.
Today, high in the mountains of Colorado, it was time to celebrate the glory of autumn. Bluebird skies, yellow leaves, a touch of crisp air, and a dog who's refinding her strength.
K and I rolled out the door and dove into our forest. Pedaling silently with K leading the way, I passed through dark pine forests with low sun rays filtering through the trees and then brilliant gold aspen groves. K's goofy surges ahead of me reflected my carefree happiness.K's squint reflected the resplendent beauty of the day.After allowing K to run slightly longer than yesterday, I left her at home to keep recharging her energy. I headed out on my mountain bike for a 'Tour de Aspens'.

Today, vast groves of aspen trees, all interconnected by underground lattices of roots, stunned me with their color. Overnight, they morphed from seas of green to seas of yellow. They'll still become brighter but they're already spectacular.During the long sunny days of summer, trees have green leaves because they produce chlorophyll faster than it degrades. Chlorophyll allows photosynthesis of plant energy from the sun but gets broken down in the process. As daylight dwindles in the fall, chlorophyll production slows, causing leaves change color as their supply disappears.

In aspen leaves undergoing their autumn transformation today, I noticed that the veins remained green while the leave's body had turned yellow. I suspect that the veins were the final spot in the leaf where chlorophyll production exceeded degradation.The subtle clash of the yellow aspens with the dark rocky peak caught my eye as I pedaled through a completely deserted forest. Soon, deep white snow will sparkle from that peak but probably not before the leaves fall.
I rolled along, thinking philosophically about autumn, noticing an ocean of dry flowers broadcasting their seeds into the wind. Without the sowing of seeds in autumn, we wouldn't have spring wildflowers. It's astounding how the natural world has adapted to flourish despite the extremes of mountain weather.

I noticed Tansy Asters, which I highlighted two days ago, pollinated and starting to transform flowers to seeds. They may not radiate the same beauty as when they blossomed but this step will allow a resurgence of that beauty next summer.
Today on the trails, I kept remembering something that I've theoretically 'learned' from Buddhist teachings and my own experiences (a thought-provoking post at A Hazy Moon reminded me of it). I'm happiest when I immerse myself in the present, rather than projecting into the future or rehashing the past. In that spirit, I enjoyed my autumn journey, simply soaking up the beauty of my astounding world.

I have to chuckle about how much smarter dogs are than us in this regard. Dogs don't need Buddhist writings to remember to fully immerse themselves in the moment. In the photo below, R's entire universe is a tennis ball - and he doesn't even get sad about the vet's orders that he cannot play fetch due to surgically repaired elbow dysplasia. When I gently kicked the ball directly to him, he radiated exuberance!


  1. Great photographs! I love the expressions on the dogs.

  2. Wow!

    Oh wait, I've pawed that before...

    AND I know I will again!

    Another pawsome post bekhause of K's improvements AND the gorgeous scenery!


  3. Hi KB

    this post is a beautiful composition, the colours of the aspen, a little biology lesson, moody clouds and a touch of refreshing philosophy, and not to mention oodles of dog love...

    thank you KB for this joy...

    Happy days

  4. Beautiful pictures. I'm happy to see K feeling better! Hopefully I'll be able to get out to the woods sometime this weekend.

  5. wonderful advice, immerse yourself in the present....yes we can learn a lot from our dogs...K is looking good and the change of your ride is beautiful...

  6. Fall is such a spectacular time of year. We love the colors, the crisp nights, the cooler air, the anticipation of winter (we actually always like the changing of seasons).

  7. All of us should learn to live in the moment, just like your lab because all we honestly have is "the moment" with no guarantee than another will come our way.

  8. Ha! OK, so next time I'm projecting forward or rehashing something, I'll think about a tennis ball and report back.

  9. Kia ora KB,
    A great autumn ride through your wonderful backyard! Here the birds of Aotearoa are singing the praises of the emerging spring. Have a great weekend.

  10. It is starting to look fall-like. Glad to see K is getting out and about.

  11. About your woodpeckers...yes, I have heard that some people find success in putting nesting boxes nearby. But that seems to work only if the pecking occurs during the spring. Otherwise, nesting is not likely the problem.

    I've heard of some success in putting shiny strips of foil or mylar tape near the pecking sites. Whatever you use, you do need to cover the holes as soon as you can.

    Mylar baloons might deter them because of the motion. If you can find some with big eyes that would be even better because they would look somewhat like owls. Since it's getting close to Halloween, you might even find Mylar baloon owls.

    I know one person who used a motion-activated sprinkler. It was designed to be a deer deterrent, but he hooked it to a hose and rigged it on the eaves of the house where the woodpeckers were working. They left and didn't return.

    I'm assuming you have had someone check to make certain they aren't searching for bugs.

    They may also be drumming, but this is usually only during spring and early summer. If it's drumming, metal flashing might stop them because it changes the sound.

    Fake owls usually won't work and if you try them, you will have to move them several times a day.

    The good news is that half the time the woodpeckers stop pecking on their own. Of course, that means half the time they don't.

    I know there are sound devices but that wouldn't be reasonable with the dogs.

    Hope you find a resolution. This is a relatively common problem so there must be a lot of information around. Good luck!


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