Wild men, who caught and sang the sun in flight

From Sunday's drive in Big Cottonwood, I bring you some spectacular yellow aspens.  This patch above, tucked in among the pines, was SO bright.  It glowed like a patch of those neon algae you see in aerial photos of the ocean.

The sun went in and out of the clouds, and the leaves changed colors with it.  The yellows were a true goldenrod in the sunshine, but they leaned toward chartreuse in the shade.  Then of course there were the variations within each tree . . . 

and among all the trees in a particular group.  Here the colors run together, blurred but not muddy, like watercolors splashed across the hillside.

Blurry.  But I include it because this is how it felt to drive through these tunnels of yellow--bright pinpoints of color blurring together; speed and air and yellow wind; a startling wash of sunshine splashing into your eyes and over your skin.

These yellows are are trending toward orange

More watercolor marbling

Bright red aspens!  You would think they were maples.  We saw a bunch of orange aspens in this same area last year, and this year we saw pretty much every color in a gradient from yellow to orange to red.  So I guess the variation is normal, or at least not improbable.

The tiny observer, on top of the bright world

We stopped the car by the side of the road and the kids stayed in the car while I walked down a little incline into this aspen forest and took some pictures.  Sam waited at the top of the hill.  It was so peaceful and quiet and the light was so yellow and warm, I wanted to stay there forever.  I tried to just breathe in that golden air and hold it like stillness inside me.  Then Sam called down and said he heard yelling and the car was rocking from side to side.  So I went back. :)

This is amazing.  I love the stark line between the aspens and the pines.

Last blaze of sunlight.  It makes lamps out of the leaves, as I heard it so well-described---but there is even more light held in this grove.  Whole trees are lanterns, lighthouses, bonfires.  

The light engulfs the whole hill.  These colors mean the sun is almost gone.  The golds are so glorious and at the same time so desperate: "Wild men, who caught and sang the sun in flight/ and learned too late they grieved it on its way."


  1. I like picturing these gorgeous trees as Thomas's wild men, but I also like picturing your bunch as the wild men as well. Work so nicely both ways. And the pictures are lovely. I need to get up there.

  2. OH, my darling girl - what shots you took. That "never get enough"? This comes very close. I don't get all that close to the aspen line anymore. I see it from afar, cutting like a golden knife the stands of lowering pine - but I don't get under it like you do. I've found caves of it at Big Springs. And my little horse gives his head a shake - unwilling to let me stop and shoot that room. Sometimes the leaves are ghostly - almost a pink, like pale things at the bottom of the ocean - I'm thinkin' I shot those two years ago. And the range of Aspen color - I'd never seen orange until just about that same time - only just a few years ago. And red? Never till now.

    Baby at the top of the world. Father, handsome in his obvious obedience. Car - rocking. LOL. I want to ride your canyon, too. Do you ride? Maybe I can take you with me some day - we ride over that seam between aspen/maple and pine and it's magic.

  3. Oh - and that marbling? I think I shot it from afar last year. It's the oddest thing, and I've never found a way to express what it looks like. Maybe like a watercolor pallet - somebody mixing thick colors on watercolor paper - with the bleed and blend all round each color. I need a single word. Isn't there some argot for that, Sam? For that place between the yellow and the red where they aren't orange yet, but themselves but not themselves?

  4. And wait just a cotton-pickin' moment - but was I just alluded to in the same article that, just paragraphs later, quoted DYLAN THOMAS? Are you KIDDING? Because I think, as I settle back with my eyebrows raised, that this may just have been the absolute apex of my career (such as it is).


  5. Which is more eagerly taking in the sun, that baby or my tie?

    K: I had to look up argot because I've never heard the word before, and the internet defined it as slang or jargon used among thieves. Unfortunately, I'm not in the color-mixing crowd of thieves, so I wouldn't know the world.

  6. A tongue, lolled out over my arm. That is what it looks like.

  7. I like to make leaf-shaped sugar cookies and then decorate them in various shades of green, yellow, orange and red. I've even been known to put brown around some edges. Want to get together and join me? Your house or mine.


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