Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nothing Gold Can Stay: Technicolor Autumn


This was supposed to be posted Wednesday . . .

This year, the weather has been perfect for the production of those technicolor leaves that break you heart when the sun hits them. We had rains followed by an early first snowfall on the heights. And that was followed by two frosts just at the freezing point, and in turn those blue and golden days of Indian summer with their cold nights and warm days.

45. Populus fremontii var. wislezenii (Rio Grande Cottonwood). This one is positively glowing near Gordon's, a long a wash destined to become part of San Pedro Creek on North New Mexico 14. On the other side of the Sandia, down on the Rio Grande, these Cottonwoods are an indicator species of the Bosque--a cottonwood forest, also populated by New Mexico Olives and other trees. Up here in the high country, they are more sparse, and grow alongside stands of Aspen.

Scrub Oak (Quercus gambelii var.) at the edge of Sedillo Canyon in the upper meadow. This picture was taken Wednesday morning and by this morning the gold of them had become a deeper orange and brown, as scrub oak are wont to do. "Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold . . ." the poet Robert Frost wrote. "Nothing gold can stay." (I previously identified Gambel's Oak for One Hundred Species in 2007).

A river of gold in Tijeras Canyon: 46. Populus tremuloides (Aspen) and Rio Grande Cottonwood light up the folded and fractured rock of Tijeras Fault.

A curious mix of gree, gold, orange and brown on the scrub oak in the back yard against the backdrop of the Pinyon-Juniper woodland, punctuated by patches of orange oak. Fall in Sedillo.

Tremulous gold of a young Aspen, leaves shimmering in the wind, unmatched as yet by the nearby cottonwood in Tijeras Canyon, just outside the old Tijeras Land Grant.

No matter how busy, as we go to and from our duties, we are momentarily transfixed by the technicolor brilliance of the mountain trees against stark rock, the soft greens of the predominantly evergreen forests, and the deep blue of a New Mexico October sky.

But each turning leaf and tree reminds us that "nothing gold can stay." Winter is coming hard upon the heels of this year's fall glory. It is expected to be early and snowy here in the high country. Today the Engineering Geek and I enjoyed the colors on the way to the purchase of a woodburning fireplace insert to replace our propane fueled fireplace. Winter is coming seasonally and saecularly. With hard times ahead, we want to be as self-sufficient as possible.