Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The timeless forest prepares for winter

This morning, the specter of winter loomed on the horizon in the form of an inexorably advancing wall of clouds. A chinook wind whipped off the peaks, blowing the new season toward us. Forecasters say that freezing temperatures and perhaps even snow will pummel us in the coming days. I haven't seen a hummingbird in a few days - just in time, from the viewpoint of our tiny flying jewels.Meanwhile, a few miles from the Divide, the warm sun baked K and me, more than compensating for the wind, while we stopped on a granite hill during our mountain bike ride. I wore a sleeveless jersey and wondered if it would be the last time this year. After K took a brief ramble off our peak, I called her and a side wind blew one ear skyward as she galloped to me.The force of the wind ripped yellow aspen leaves from their moorings today. The photo below shows the blurred aspen leaves on the trail as K ran along side me.
When we passed through sheltered sections of forest, the scene remained warm and autumnal.
K acted frisky during our short ride but I continue to worry about her. She's drinking and urinating more than usual - and of course it's a weekend so my regular vet office is closed. I'm a champion worrier - but I wonder if I'm seeing hints of collateral damage from her pancreatitis. I'll be talking with my vet soon.

After our joint ride, I left K at home and headed out on a favorite loop. After yesterday's exploratory adventure that involved lots of bike pushing and even carrying, I (and my aching spine) wanted to spin the pedals for my whole ride. So, I chose a route on smooth established trails replete with mountain and aspen views.

Near the start of my ride, I tunneled through gold aspens and remembered that blooming columbines and ninebark flowers leaned over the trail in this grove just two months ago. Now, the changing leaves of those plants lend the ground a rust hue. The transformation over such a short time boggles my mind.
I rode along a ledgy trail and had trouble focusing on the frequent rocky obstacles because the view over the Divide mesmerized me.I emerged onto a plateau with expansive brilliant aspen groves. Imagine, all of those trees are part of one organism, the grove, joined by underground roots. Many groves have lived thousands of years. Every year, without fail, their leaves morph to yellow and then flutter to the ground in preparation for winter. Losing their leaves too early stunts their growth by shutting down leaf photosynthesis. But, losing them too late can be catastrophic if an early heavy snow hits. It's a delicate balance. As a side note, a cool thing about aspens is that they have chlorophyll in their bark so they can photosynthesize energy in fall and spring when the sun shines strongly but their branches are bereft of leaves.
When I travel through vast aspen groves that might be a thousand or more years old, the forest feels timeless to me. I'm a temporary speck in the aspen grove's world view - and the grove keeps marching through its seasonal cycle while paying no heed to who walks among its trees. I'm astonished by the thought that grizzly bears wandered here, probably even in this exact grove, before humans extirpated them in the early 1900s. Wolves also lived here and likely hunted in the hallowed ground under the grove - before they, too, were hunted down and eliminated. How the world has changed - but the aspen grove remains.
I wonder if the Divide will be snow-covered in the next couple of days. A distant peak has maintained its snowy cloak all week. Winter is coming. I'm sure that we'll have a few sporadic summery days but they'll be the exception rather than the rule.
A yearly question is worrying me once again - should I see if my basil can survive the cold (in a tent) or harvest it all? It's the conglomeration of all the little decisions, like the basil one, that make up the fabric of daily life.


  1. Again:




    PeeEssWoo: Paws khrossed fur K and the 'issues'

  2. Harvest the basil and make pesto. It freezes nicely and you will be certain to enjoy your basil.

    Lovely photographs of the changing season.

    Here's hoping things settle down with K. Diabetes obviously comes to mind with lots of drinking and urinating and it can be caused by pancreatitis. Fortunately for most dogs, once the pancreatitis has totally subsided, so does the diabetes. PURE SPECULATION, of course, (so take it for what it's worth) but something you definitely want to have checked.

    Fingers and paws crossed for K.

  3. I hope that K is okay and you have nothing to worry about. Our leaves are barely starting to turn here, and it still feels like summer most days. (And it hadn't even occurred to me to try to save my basil... maybe I should take NCMountainwoman's suggestion and make pesto...)

  4. Pesto definitely sounds good. I love the photo of K and the blur of aspen leaves.

  5. Hi KB

    what glorious aspens you are bringing to us...

    Basil grows well in a could grow some indoors over winter...I have also tried freezing the leaves in icecubes and that works ok

    Happy days

  6. I hope to overwinter all my herbs from the greenhouse inside. But, just in case, I harvested a bunch of basil and made a big batch of pesto. Ate some, froze some.

    I hope K was just thirsty. Maybe the change of seasons.


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!