On Summer…Wait, What’s That?!

Good morning everyone!  Well, we just walked The Boy to his first day of 4th Grade.  I’m not sure how that’s possible but what is even more mind blowing is that the Boo Bear starts pre-school next Tuesday.  We’re fairly certain that she’s way more ready for that day than we are!  Irregardless, now cometh the latest and greatest edition of The Diatribe.

So the Dooley Clan went on a little Jeep trip over the weekend.  The Colorado monsoon season is still in full swing so it was a soggy and mudslinging mess of a good time up there.  Things were going well until we came over the top of Owl Creek Pass and I looked out over the majestic San Juan Mountains and saw this nonsense on top of them:

san juans

That’s right America!  If you look closely you will see the freshly fallen white devil (AKA snow).  Here we are, trying to enjoy a little summer travel and I come across this stark reminder of what lay ahead for us.  For the next eight months we get to experience winter in all of its glory.

I’ve been seeing some small hints of fall around our valley for the past couple weeks but I was hoping that it was just an unusual die off of trees.  But as I turned on the furnace to keep the house above 64 degrees at night, and night time temperatures dropped below freezing, I was finally forced out of my delusional state.  There’s plenty of green left in the trees but fall is upon us up in the high country.

Now don’t get me wrong when it comes the fall season.  Fall in the Colorado high country is an experience unlike any other.  It is beautiful, glorious, spiritual, breath-taking, awe inspiring, and any of a thousand other descriptors that I’m not clever enough to come up with on a moment’s notice.  When you look up into the mountains and see thousands of golden aspens quaking over a freshly fallen coating of snow you know you are looking upon natural beauty in its most pure state.  On one of those warm fall days when you are out in a stand of aspen and cottonwood trees, standing under a bluebird sky, and a breeze comes along and leaves of gold and red shower down upon you; it makes your heart swell with gladness to be alive.

Alright, alright back to reality.  I love hoodies, campfires, marshmallows, and PSLs (Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks…don’t judge me) as much as anyone but the pretty part of fall is fleeting and then we are left with brown.  The grass is brown, the trees are brown, and pretty much everything else is varying shades of brown (especially these days thanks to the pine beetle infestation).  Until the snow falls, we are in a world of brown that the tourists never see.  The whitewash of winter isn’t here yet, the emerald greens of summer have long since passed into glorious memories, and the leaf peepers have long ago packed up their cameras and parked their Prius’ that they loved to block traffic with.  Brown.

I think brown is Mother Nature’s way of tricking people to keep living in this area during the winter.  You look at brown for so many weeks that when the first snows start falling down low you are relieved.  “Oh my goodness it’s so pretty outside,” is how you start off thinking.  You are lulled by its quite beauty and forget about its insidious partner in crime: Cold.  I’m not talking about some crisp or blustery days.  I’m talking about not above 0 during the day, 30+ below at night, plug in your car at night or walk the next day, lung burning, ice cream headache if you don’t cover your forehead, face hurting, icicles in your beard, frozen toes and fingers, bone chilling kind of cold for a month or more at a time.  Our snow doesn’t melt until spring.  You know how most of you get a good snow and it melts in a few days?  Yeah, it stays here all winter and into the spring.  By the time we’ve had a bellyful of the cold and white we decide to stick around because the atmospheric glory that is June is just a few months away.

Not to brag, but we are a pretty hardy lot in this little valley.  As sick as it sounds, we actually enjoy it for most of the winter.  I usually don’t even bother wearing more than a hoodie unless I’m outside for a few hours at a time.  You might be surprised how warm it feels outside when it’s -10 on a bright sunny day.  But we know the risks of being outside in our winter wonderland.  We have enough warm jackets, dry socks, extra snow boots, scarves, hats, shovels, and food in our cars that we could each probably open our own Salvation Army right on the side of the road.  We do this because deep down in those parts of our brain few like to admit exist we know that the weather our little valley can quickly kill the unprepared and unlucky.

That’s a ways down the road however.  We still have plenty of warm days ahead of us.  I still have a few more weekends to take the Jeep out and bounce our butts over the top of some mountain pass all in the name of finding that breathtaking scenery that I know lives just over the next hill.  I can feel the impending doom of winter breathing down on us but for now, I’ll enjoy my time in the hills with my family and views like this:owl creek

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