May In The Centennial Valley

Almost everyone who calls this time of year asks: "What is it like there, right now?" Of course my answer varies depending on the condition of the sky and the amount of precipitation (or lack of). However, for most people, the question goes beyond, "What is the weather?" They are really asking: "What is it like to live in the high mountains in the spring?"

Answering really entails explaining the difference between life at 600 or 2600 feet and life at 6700 feet. Obviously winters are longer at this elevation. And, for those of us who live in God's country, we sometimes doubt the label this time of year. After all, the rest of the world is mowing the grass and reveling in the tulips and daffodils while we wait for the snow to melt off the 'lawn'.

However, there is something special about spring at this elevation which, while experienced to some degree at lower elevations, is - I think - dramatized up here. For one - snow has a magical way of making what is really a 'dead' world look fresh and clean and healthy as a newborn baby. Yet, when you think about it, winter in the mountains is more a time of sleep than of activity. The trees are quiet - no new growth, no sprouts, no buds. Just bare branches drapped with snow.

The wildlife, for the most part are gone. Except for a few raptors, some hearty water fowl, and a smattering of smaller birds, the avian species have desended to the low-lands. Some larger mammals do spend the winter but, for the most part, they are fewer and farther between. Often the only signs of their presence are the tracks they leave in the snow. In other words - mountain winters are almost unearthly silent.

For those who feel the need to surround themselves with sound, I suppose this could produce feelings of discomfort. Perhaps it might unnerve some. I find it not only amazing but relaxing. Then comes the other end of the spectrum. When the birds (our 'noisy' wildlife) return, it is almost like listening to a miracle. Their voices are sweeter. Their notes clearer. Their songs more pleasureable for the silence of their absense. Furthermore, fresh elk tracks, a deer spotted near the spring, and bear tracks up Narrow's Creek remind us our larger neighbors are now out and about.

The other marked change which accompanies spring's return to our high-mountain valley is the arrival of 'green.' Granted, we have evergreens - and they create the most lovely backdrop for winter's white mantel. However, as the snow melts, it reveals the earth's face - a face which appears to have died! Thankfully looks can be deceiving.

Thus begins spring's most amazing transformation - a metamorphosis which always takes me by surprise. If the return of sound is an audio miracle, surely the return of obvious life is a visual miracle. From green to brown. From dead to living. Each spring my world transforms.

Perhaps you live somewhere where the grass (if watered) is always green, the trees molt but never shed their leaves, there are always some flowers blooming or plants growing. If so - you would probably hate my world, but if you only had eyes to see, I think spring would take on a whole new meaning.

So - right now in my world - I listen and watch as the transformation begins. Oh, I've been down to the lowlands. I've smelled the sweet scent of lilacs (mine will not flower until the first of July). I've seen daffodils already spent from blooming their hearts out. I've smelt freshly mowed grass. I've seen trees blushing green with new growth. I've walked through air filled with the white and purple of falling petals.

Yes, I am anxious to see my world awaken. Like a tortise, the signs are there. A little green here. A new bird spotted (and heard) there. Life is returning to the high mountains. With its return I am again filled with a fresh new appreciation for its beauty and an overflowing gratitude to the All-wise Creator for His marvelous gifts!

No comments: