Fire weed is a dramatically beautiful plant with striking purple blossoms. Consisting of a long stalk, it flowers sequentially through the summer, with the blossoms climbing higher on the plant as summer progresses. Children in Grand County are said to get sad when the blossoms at the apex of the plant begin to flower, because it is an indication that the beginning of school is imminent.
Fireweed is so-named because it is one of the opportunistic plants that sprout in the forest after a fire. With their tenacious roots, they secure the soil and make it possible for less-vigorous plants subsequently to take root.
After the blossoms reach the top of the plant, you think it's pretty much done for. All that's left are these long narrow tubes. But just when you think the thing is done for and about to die, the tubes split open and begin to release so much fluff that you're sure they could give a cottonwood a run for its money.
Fireweed fluff is a harbinger of fall and a promise of more substantial (and significantly colder) white stuff that pretty soon is going to start falling from the sky and not from ruptured plant stamens.
I wish that the amount of fireweed fluff were a predictor of a good snow season. If that were true, then the High Mountain Lodge (and the Fraser Valley and Winter Park Ski Area) promise to be buried in the skiable and snowshoe-able white stuff this winter.
The other day, Julie said to me, "I am so looking forward to winter! Aren't you?" Well, yeah. After I replace the weather stripping on most of the doors in the lodge. And I really need to take apart our Buick-sized snowblower that has been summering down in the green shed. I'm pretty sure that bad boy is gonna earn his keep starting in just a few months.
We'll be ready. We're looking forward to having winter sports enthusiasts in the lodge. We can hardly wait to get out our own skis and snowshoes.
In the meantime, we'll sit out in the sunshine under the umbrellas on the Lodge decks, watch the wheeling sky that is always different, with the beauty of any one day trying to out-do the day before.
Mind you, we're not it a hurry for it to snow, but the promise of winter has us filled with anticipation.