Moon of the Yellowing Leaves

Some days assume an ethereal quality during the living, and October 1 was just such a day. In search of fall colors, my husband and I traveled to Mueller State Park in neighboring Teller County, about 30 miles (48 Km) west of Colorado Springs. 9 o’clock in the morning found the thermometer flirting with a refreshing 39 degrees F (4 degrees C), inducing us to don an extra layer. At nearly 9,000 feet (2.700 meters), our favorite aspen trees were busy with their annual endeavor of turning into gold.

This year’s haphazard weather, characterized by searing heat and parching drought, made it difficult for experts to forecast the pinnacle of this avidly anticipated autumn spectacle. And while a fraction of the trees was still green and another had already shed its leaves, plenty of aspens were in the midst of their miraculous transformation, delighting us not only with cheering sunshine hues, but also with a euphonious symphony of rustling foliage, in addition to a pleasing choreography of pirouetting leaves on their way to converting into a crunchy, crispy carpet. The sky, after being obscured by haze from wildfires repeatedly in the preceding months, was nearly as blue as is its wont, and the sun raised the temperature to a very-comfortable-at-this-altitude 60 degrees (15 C) .

Enchanted with what we found, we scrapped our plans to return to Colorado Springs via a loop road, which, on account of being gravel, would have taken us many hours to drive. Instead, we hiked a nearly 7-mile loop that undulated through expansive meadows, scattered strands of trees, and dense forests. We took our time enjoying the vistas and the balminess of the sun’s rays, but also the intermittent breezes hinting at harsher times to come. Next to a verdant pond in an otherwise desiccated meadow we sat cross-legged and savored our lunch, with squirrels chattering and birds calling.

To enlarge a photo, click on it.

Ending the afternoon at a picnic table with coffee and pumpkin muffins, we were accosted by the curious, always-hungry, and at-times-brazen avians aptly known as camp robbers—the irresistible Canada Jays. When the crumbs that drop from visitors’ picnics aren’t sufficiently sating, they will help themselves to whatever edibles aren’t nailed down.

As the westering sun dappled the light, warmed our aging bones, and made us appreciate the simple pleasures of the moment, from high in the sky came a vociferous reminder of the passing of the seasons. Craning our necks, we espied a flock of migrating Sandhill Cranes on their way south. In tandem with our earlier experiences, they uplifted our souls with another token of nature’s comforting, recurring cycles in otherwise disturbing, unsettled times.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

PS: Thanks to my husband for coming up with this post’s title. It was inspired by author Mari Sandoz, whose books include descriptive names for the different months used by the American Indian tribes she wrote about. I have introduced her in a previous post.

PPS: Mueller State Park was also the topic of another previous post.

69 thoughts on “Moon of the Yellowing Leaves

  1. “a euphonious symphony of rustling foliage, in addition to a pleasing choreography of pirouetting leaves on their way to converting into a crunchy, crispy carpet.” No wonder you both wanted to be out there in the midst of it all! Wonderful joyous writing Tanja!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully written post about a great day out; we’re clearly on the same wavelength regarding “aging bones!” It’s good that you finally enjoyed some clear views after all the wildfire mayhem earlier in the year.
    I’m sure we’ve seen Canada Jays, but I think our bird guide describes them as Gray Jays?
    PS Please send emergency supply of pumpkin muffins immediately 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you kindly for the compliment, it’s much appreciated. I’m afraid the the pumpkin muffin supply has been utterly depleted, and now we are nursing not only our aging bones, but also our aching bellies. 🙂
      You are absolutely right about the jays. They were originally known as Canada Jays, then as Gray Jays, before reverting back to their original name, which corresponds to their scientific name, “Perisoreus canadensis.” And looking at their distribution map, they occur far more frequently in Canada than the US, so the name is apropos.
      https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Canada_Jay

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tanja, it’s always a joy to read your posts! You really have a way with words like few others, and from this poetically written one I figure that the two of you must have had a great day among “pirouetting leaves”, accompanied by “a euphonious symphony of rustling foliage”.
    I guess your Canadian jay belongs to the same family as our Sibirean jay. A very sociable bird and somewhat more colorful than its cousin in its brown-gray plumage and rusty-red tail and wings. If taking a pick-nick break in a coniferous forest, the smell from your coffe and a sausage sandwich (if that’s in your lunch box) is most likely to attract not just one but several of them. With a little luck you’ll probably get them to eat from your hand. Maybe the same goes for the Canadian jays.
    Stay well, and DO NOT follow any presidential advice!!!
    /Meggie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment is very much appreciated, Meggie, thank you kindly.
      I would love to meet your Siberian Jays, just looked at some photos on line and find them very attractive. The behavior you describe does indeed resemble that of the Canada Jays who will land anywhere there is food, including on hands, heads, and even one’s cooking pot, all experiences we have had. 🙂
      As far as your final suggestion, there is NO danger of that whatsover!!!
      Kindest regards, and stay well.
      Tanja

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    • Thank you, Donna, I’m glad you enjoyed my autumnal Colorado impressions from afar. I love all our jays but the Canada Jays are always a little extra special, especially since we only get to see them at higher elevations. You will get to meet them one of these days. May your battery be full and your memory card empty. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the delicate golds as the trees start to turn yellow. We’re getting close to that here and I’m hoping that our birch tree and the neighbours’ one will be able to hang onto their leaves long enough for them to turn colour. The Canada jays pinching any food that’s not nailed down made me laugh. (And reminded me of an exceedingly cheeky mallard drake demanding food from me at a riverside pub, hehe!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope with you that your neighborhood birch trees will wrap themselves in some pretty autumn colors, Ann. It’s such a brief, brilliant season and we have to enjoy it while we can. Birds everywhere seem to be emboldened to help themselves for human food–hunger is a strong instinct!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking only at the color, your photos remind me of my autumn trip to Kansas, where sycamores and other such trees provided that wonderful range and depth of color. I suspect there won’t be a chance this fall to find midwestern color, or try again for the color I’ve missed twice in Arkansas, but if conditions are right, there are places in Texas where colorful trees can be found.

    I’m so glad you got away — and I was especially excited to read about the sandhill cranes. The coots have arrived here now, joining the ospreys, and we’re anxiously awaiting the sandhills, the white pelicans, and the whooping cranes. I love the way blogging has made it possible to track the seasonal migrations as reports from people, as well statistics on the various birding sites.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I imagine Kansas would also have its fair share of cottonwoods, which also turn a brilliant yellow in autumn. But whether you make it to Kansas or Arkansas, or not, I hope you will find plenty of fall colors at or near your home. And I agree with you–blogging has really opened my eyes to the goings-on in other parts of the country and the world. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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