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!