Colorado in early October was a happy surprise, a feast of bright autumn colors and sunshine. Clusters of yellow aspen and orange cottonwood trees, nestled in the river valleys and hillside clefts. Bold bursts of color against a backdrop of majestic evergreens, snow-dusted mountain peaks and sage covered foothills. Through the towns of Shawnee, Ouray, Gunnison, Silverton and Crested Butte. Across vast plains, high upland desert and the Continental Divide. Through ravines and canyons. Over the Kenosha, Trout Creek, Poncha, Monarch, and Wolf Creek mountain passes. Along the Collegiate Range, the Blue Mesa reservoir, the Arkansas river, and through the San Juan National Forest. Traces of mining and the wild west visible, farms and ranch-lands in the midst of a vast recreational mecca. Green and ochre pastures, jagged stone outcroppings, a sprinkling of snow at the high elevations, and the bold gold of autumn. A glorious and grand landscape, a sense of unlimited space and resources, in a fragile ecosystem.
Back in Vermont at the tail end of foliage season, leaves still bright in the understory, the forest canopy mostly bare, surrounding hillsides a russet-brown. Recent rainstorms have denuded many trees and the ground is matted with wet leaves. November is here, and the days are getting shorter. I was in Colorado to welcome the newest member of our family into this world. Time with family in Denver and Durango, and the chance to drive the long, beautiful ribbon of road between the two towns, in full autumn splendor, a gift.