Palabras Pintorescas: The swirling golden curtain of the fall

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By Editha Bartley

No matter how much things may change, some things just seem to stay the same. As I write this at the late date for change of seasons topics, I wonder what comes next in out crazy weather cycles.

Yes, it is the very last week in October and we still have big patches of golden aspen leaves. They should have matured, blown away long ago. I discovered a letter sent to me back in 1987 from another of our “adopted” kids, boys and girls who spent many months on the old ranch long ago. This is from Lee, who spent more than a year with us as he searched for his future goals. Yes, he was lost in some ways, but what he found living here and working our land on a daily basis obviously turned him around, as they say. I quote his letter:

“This time: Early or mid 1970s. The place: Deep in the West Canyon (Gascon Ranch). The Horse: Bill.

“The sky above me is bright, but I ride in shadow, the October sun having descended beyond the ridge to my west. I am in an aspen grove, deep in the canyon far from the ranch house. It is a special place to me, one to which I often ride alone, to think and wonder. Unbidden, my horse (Bill) stops and I glory in the stillness. I wait. I feel the serene strength of the horse under me.

“Suddenly, the tops of the trees begin to stir. The wind, as if on cue, begins to blow. The day’s quota of autumn leaves, loosened by the chill of approaching winter, begin to fall. Soon, to my delight, I am enveloped by a swirling golden curtain. Gently, the leaves settle to the ground, and the wind, having done its job, subsides.

“Again, it is still. I ride on.

“As I write these words, some ten years later, the memory is as clear and poignant as a dream of a lost loved one, now newly awakened from so long ago.”

Lee was very close to his father, and he lost his father when he was very  young 12-years-old at best. Because he loved this ranch life so much, his mother sent him, almost immediately after his father’s abrupt death, to spend the summer working for us. He has never forgotten that swirling curtain of leaves, and I know many of us have had some of the same memorable and rewarding experiences. There really is a time and a place for everything, and we just have to be able to slow down enough to appreciate this all of its glory and meaning.

By the time this is printed the last leaf will have finally blown away, joining the golden carpet waiting for snow. Yes, this has been a crazy weather year. Now I wonder what winter will bring. I hope this is a “goodbye leaf rake, hello snow shovel” winter.

Editha Bartley  lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.