River of Golden Aspen, Colorado
Part 1. Chasing Fall Color
We chased fall colors all over the southern Colorado Rockies that Sabbatical trip in 1976. Fall starts early at such high altitude, colors turn beginning in late August and into September. We were more than a little frustrated at first because we couldn’t locate any prime stands of glowing aspen. We arrived either too early—aspen still green—or too late—the trees were bare. The wind had already whisked away the gold. Nowadays every newspaper helps keep track of where the colors are best, or a map can be found online, but at that time we were on our own. In late September we finally passed some golden stands along Highway 50 between Montrose and Gunnison. We backtracked to take another look, but there were no good places to pull off the road, no chances for a proper viewing. We drove back and forth a couple of times, and I tried to visually memorize patterns on the hills and cliffs. The patterns fascinated me. The aspen appeared to be flowing downhill, a liquid gold against the dark evergreen forest. Beautiful. Something beautiful.
Later in camp on the Taylor River, I pulled out my watercolors and painted a very watery rendition of what I could remember. Aspen that flow seemed unlikely, but that’s what it looked like. Don reminded me that aspen like to follow the water. These were no doubt growing along an underground water source that seeped downhill from the ridge. Read more next week about how Populus tremuloides grow, rarely as single trees, usually in colonies . . .
Do you chase fall color? Do you have a favorite place?
These paintings illustrate my book, The Road to Beaver Park, Painting, Perception, and Pilgrimage, available at the following: http://WipfandStock.com http://Indiebound.org http://amazon.com http://barnesandnoble.com