Friday, October 22, 2010

Unexpected Beauty

It was not a dark and stormy night but a damp and chilly afternoon at the High Mountain Lodge. Who knew that the sun, obliterated by the clouds, still had enough gumption to turn the brown, dead fields into gold this afternoon....

Frequently it gets so staggeringly beautiful up here that you wonder if the Chamber of Commerce has a contract with some hideously expensive Hollywood special-effects company--as if the Winter Park/Fraser Valley C of C had enough money to conspire with the Big Boys to turn the valley spectacular at any season--including our current slow time....

Not that the Big Boys could pull this one off. They don't have enough imagination.

We live in a place where nature's gestures are overly large and embarrassingly dramatic. The clouds that in any other place would soar overhead, unreachable, here drizzle down the valleys like spilled buttermilk looking for a low place to sour the floorboards in the kitchen.

And, if the sights don't sock you in the eye, the smells in our valley would put a Paris perfumery to shame. Fallen wet aspen leaves have an indescribable dark aphrodisiacal musk to them. It doesn't take much for them to rot and become soil, but in the magical few weeks after they've given up dazzling our vision with their incomparable fall color and fallen to the ground, they ravage our nose instead of our eyes.

It's no wonder all the large mammals lose their minds this time of year. The elk go into rut and start to bugle; the foxes down in the willows scream at the drop of the hat; the moose do creepy moosey-rut things like destroying outhouses; and the coyotes, lordy, the coyotes behave like freshman frat boys having their first kegger.

When everything seems to be dying, the animals give the lie to the season. This is one of the most fertile times of the year. The colder it gets up here, the more life deepens, and when the snow is an even blanket hiding all that life, we'll be skiing on our future spring.

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