Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wishful Thawing...

     The "February Thaw" is to Winter as an "Indian Summer" is to Summer. That is to say, it is a tantalizing reminder of warm weather in the midst of a chilly season. An Indian Summer is that one week of summery weather in the middle of Autumn, the last wisp of short-sleeves-and-flip-flops temperatures before the hard cold months set in. The February Thaw brings a week or two of downright balmy weather right in the midst of Winter.
      From behind gray clouds the sun emerges. Just as the sky brightens, so does my mood. Colors, yesterday muted and shrouded in gray, are now illuminated, seemingly lit from within. Still damp surfaces sparkle, as nature's hues intensify magically, and I reach for my sunglasses. The air warms, mist rises and disappears. Everywhere I look beauty calls out in a silent whisper, pulling my attention first one way then another, "Look at me! Look at me!"
      The first day, I'm always surprised and over-dressed; I end up taking off layers of sweaters and jackets and wishing I hadn't worn boots with thermal socks. The second day finds me wearing bright Spring colors and lightweight fabrics under the heavy coat I still need in the early morning. For three or four or even five glorious days, I find myself taking every opportunity to venture outside to bask in the sun. I close my eyes and savor the feel of warm rays on my skin, letting it soak deep into my deprived soul. And I smile... yes, giddily, I smile and practically worship the sun itself.
     Unfortunately, having whet my appetite for Spring, the February Thaw departs as suddenly as it arrived, like water slipping through my fingers. Suddenly, there's frost on the windshield in the morning again, and the temperature never leaves the 40s. Worst of all, I'm now under-dressed and cold, bitter cold all day long. It's guaranteed, there's always one more big, cold snow storm before Spring really settles in for the duration.

     The February Thaw casts its light and brings my attention to another annual February phenomenon. Moss, green, lush, and awakened from its place in the near-invisible background, seems to be everywhere. It lies dormant during the hot, dry months, I can barely see it and forget to notice it. Cameleon-like, moss blends completely into the background, adopting the drab colors of the surfaces on which it grows. Come the rainy season, it starts to grow and spread, but it isn't until this brief warming trend in February that mosses suddenly seems to jump out at me from all angles.
     Anything immobile turns green with a thick moss blanket. The trunks of stately oak trees wear fuzzy moss sweaters that cover their south sides as well as their north sides, and their broad branches, too. Moss crawls up rock walls and wooden fences and carpets stone and brick walkways. These miniature, furry plants even squeeze themselves between concrete sidewalk slabs. Sentinel boulders standing alone in fields and steep rocky cliffsides along my route to school turn from brown and gray to the vivid emerald green.
     This moss invasion precedes even the arrival of the first red-breasted robin and the emergence of the area's gazillion yellow daffodils, the traditional icons of Spring's arrival. Having grown up in sunny Southern California, with its seasons only vaguely differentiated from one another, I was quite taken aback by the magnitude of the seasonal shifts that occur here in NorCal, when I moved here twenty years ago. The way Winter is soooooo different from Fall and Spring, I noticed right away, of course. But, it took me a number of years to appreciate the more subtle differences between Early Winter, Mid-Winter, and Late Winter, and the little signs that mark the path of the Earth around the Sun.
     The arrival of the Mossy Season that comes on the heels of the February Thaw is one I find most dear. When I stop, not to smell the roses, but to gently run my hands over the feathery texture of a mat of moss clinging stubbornly to the side of a tree or the top of a wall, time seems to slow down. I find both energy and calm in the celebration of that timeless moment.

Here comes the Sun...
Here comes the Sun...
It's been a long, cold, lonely Winter...
It seems like years since it's been here...
The smiles returning to the faces...
It seems like years since it's been here...
Here comes the Sun...
Here comes the Sun...
~ George Harrison

(Thanks to Chris for pointing me to the official name for this February phenomenon and to Nicky for reminding me of George Harrison's lyrics. Gotta love those connections!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Books, Beautiful Books...

You may have tangible wealth untold; 
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. 
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.
(Strickland Gillilan)

     I had a Grandmother who read to me. I hadn't thought about Grandma Edna for some time, nor of the beautiful books I have inherited from her. It wasn't seeing those books on my bookshelves that reminded me of her just now. Strangely enough, it was the aroma of macaroni-and-cheese that transported me across time and space to my childhood and her company.

     When my parents would go out for the evening, my sister and I would be left in Grandma's care, and since Grandma didn't really cook, that meant a dinner of macaroni-and-cheese and Lawrence Welk or Lassie on the TV. Sometimes Grandma lived with us, in a tiny set of rooms that used to be the "maid's quarters" when the rambling old house was new decades in the past. But much of the time when I was small, she lived in equally tiny rooms on the second floor of the Porter Hotel in downtown San Fernando.
     The aroma of macaroni-and-cheese bubbling in the oven always starts me down a wispy "stream of consciousness" trail in my mind. From mac-n-cheese nights, I'm drawn to the memory of another scent, that of Grandma's sweet talcum powder. In my mind's eye I see the two of us sitting on her bed in that small apartment on the Porter Hotel's second floor. I was little, a preschooler perhaps. We'd push the bolster and pillows up against the wall and sit on the woolen blue-and-white bedcover, whose rough and bumpy texture I can still feel. Leaning back against the pillows and snuggled up together over a book, we were warm and cozy. I loved listening to her read aloud to me, while I looked at the pictures. A gifted storyteller, she magically pulled me into the tales, her voice rising and falling with the rhythm of the plot, bringing the characters alive by giving each of them a unique speaking voice.
     Grandma would read modern stories like The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham to me, occasionally, if I asked, but both of us really preferred it when she read from an old book filled with fairy tales. Book House For Children volumes, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller and printed in 1925, were filled with stories handed down for generations and from cultures around the world. The tales were accompanied by beautiful multi-colored illustrations in bold hues, their borders and scrolling reminiscent of ancient illuminated manuscripts. Between the covers were familiar fairy tales like "Sleeping Beauty" and "Little Red Riding Hood," but there were also many lesser known stories as well. My favorites, the ones we read over and over and over, were "Snow White and Rose Red" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."
     These same books sit, today, on my own bookshelves, along with others of that same vintage, My Book of History and Tales from... . Originally purchased for my mother, back in the days before the Great Depression reduced my grandmother from prosperity to poverty, they are still in beautiful condition.  The covers are embossed fabric, each printed with a brilliantly colored illustration; the pages are made of thick paper rarely seen in modern books.
     When I was about nine or ten, Grandma Edna came to live with us. Her eyesight, as a result of glaucoma, was nearly gone, so she could no longer read. I would sit in the living room with her and read to her from my favorite Nancy Drew books, beginning with The Mystery of the Old Clock. I'm not sure, in hindsight, how interesting she found those children's mysteries to be, but she sat with me and at least feigned great interest as I read aloud with emphasis, giving each character a different speaking voice, just like she had taught me how to do. Those old Nancy Drew books, the old, dark blue ones with the cloth covers, not the newer yellow and blue ones, sit in the bookcase adjacent to the Book House tomes, each representing a different phase in my young life.

     Decades later, when my son, Dean, was little, I read aloud to him every day. We read newer children's books like Jamberry and Heckety Peg, but it was from the pages of the Book House volumes that we discovered the fairy tales and legends that captivated us both. Dean's favorites were different than mine; he favored hero's adventures rather than princess stories. We'd cuddle up all warm and cozy to pour over a story and its pictures. Like Grandma, I'd read in voices and with great enthusiasm. Dean grew up to be as voracious a reader as I was, and still am.
     When he was about seven, in an effort to make room in his bookcases for newer acquisitions, I began packing up some of the preschool level books, with the intention of donating them to the local library. Dean interrupted my project and asked what I was going to do with the big box of his "baby books." When I explained my plan, tears began to well up in his eyes, and he said with heartfelt passion, "You can't give away my books! My books are my life!"
     Needless to say, I returned the books to their honored places on the shelves and never again even considered giving them away. As a result, both he and I could be considered prime examples of "bookaholics," having homes filled with overflowing bookshelves, towering piles of books, read and unread, on nearly every flat surface, beside the bed, on the coffee table, next to the comfy reading chair.

  1. someone who loves books and reading, 
  2. someone with a vast collection of books,
  3. someone who keeps buying books to add to a stack of unread books
     If I'm going to have a vice, I'm just as glad that this is it. Though expensive and time-consuming, it's rather harmless and a great source of pleasure.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

By Land and By Sea...

     Point Reyes National Seashore, located just north of San Francisco, is a vast collection of coastal environs, broad sandy beaches, high grassy bluffs dotted with dairy farms, steep rocky seacliffs, lagoons, marshes, and small bays ringed with docks of fishing boats. The park is crisscrossed with an array of trails that traipse, meander, and robustly climb through its windswept lands.
     I especially enjoy the hike, really more a stroll, out to Kehoe Beach. The 1.2 mile trail skirts the edge of Kehoe Marsh with views of its many resident or visiting water birds and shore birds. Ducks and mudhens and other swimming and diving fowl float alone and in great groups on the smooth water that sits in a bowl surrounded by rolling grass-green hills. A variety of little flitting birds sit atop and hide amongst the branches of blackberry bushes and other shrubs that line the shore and climb the hillsides. Occasional birds of prey float effortlessly above on the air currents, watching for rodents in the grass.
     At the west end of the fresh water marsh is a small wooden bridge that crosses over the narrow outlet to the sea, allowing one access to the wide white beach in dry shoes. The water is brackish, as it is actually both inlet and outlet, changing directions with the tides. Below the bridge, the water is absolutely invisible, masked by millions of bright green leaves of floating waterplants, like the water itself is green and growing. A slender and elegant great blue heron on the other side of the green water is so immobile as to disappear into the sandy spot where it stands.
     West of the bridge, where the water of the narrow inlet/outlet slips between rolling sand dunes, a colony of seagulls stands inches from the water of the outer salt water lagoon. Every five minutes or so, on some silent communal cue, they take to the air like a school of flying fish, wheeling overhead, calling, before settling again a short distance from where they stood before.
     The trail widens where it emerges from the dunes onto the broad sand beach and becomes a dozen lines of footprints fanning out, all heading towards the sound of crashing waves. Along the trail, I have encountered only half a dozen humans, all moving back towards the parking lot. Arriving at the ocean's edge, I see only one lone speck of a hiker far down the beach.
     As far as I can see to the left, as far as I can see to the right, waves rise, curl, crash, and slide up the smooth sand. There are four, five, even six rows of gray-green waves, lined up, one behind the other, marching toward the land. After leaving foamy remains of themselves on the pale shore, each wave retreats, rejoining the vast ocean. I stand for half-an-hour or more, watching the repeating comings and goings, listening to the loud, crashing, rhythmic breathing of the sea.
     Upon closer inspection, the beach is not made from a fine-grained powdery sand, rather it is vast collection of tiny polished rocks the size of rice and peas. Each shiny rock is different from the rest, and together they are a rainbow of colors, red, green, blue, inky black, crystal white, orange and amber. I find myself on my knees, picking up the prettiest ones, until my hands are filled to overflowing, and I can hold no more. As the sun begins to make its way toward the horizon, I place my miniature rock collection into my pocket and head back to find my car, in a slow-paced race with the approaching dark, and retreat once more to my peaceful little bed-and-breakfast cottage.
     I found there to be an interesting contrast between the marsh, so teeming with wildlife, and the beach, so seemingly devoid of it. The marsh provides a microscope-like, closeup view of the bubbling and oozing life process. The creatures populating the sky, ground, and water of the that habitat produce a feast of sights, sounds, and constant movement. By contrast, the only visible signs of life on the beach are California brown pelicans passing by, cruising in formation over the cresting waves. The shoreline's vast dimensions create a spectacular setting for the eternal battle between land and sea. The marsh is a study in biology, whereas the beach is a geological study, both beautiful and fascinating to observe, but very different.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Junky Art...

     Florence Avenue in Sebastopol is home to a crazy assortment of fanciful characters. Nearly every front yard along this quiet residential street is host to a whimsical piece of metal sculpture created by Patrick Amiot out of odds and ends of metal junk. This neighborhood is, in fact, Amiot's home, too. His yard is filled to overflowing with metal characters, while other yards each showcase a solitary favorite.
     In the vast majority of neighborhoods this could never happen. In modern suburban areas, neighbors might have complained about the "junk" and turned their backs on this idea and its perpetrator. Homeowners Associations around the country have CC&Rs that would literally outlaw such playful beauty. But not this small town's residents. They embraced their hometown artist and his quirky creations by joining him in displaying his happy art.
     Firemen in yellow hats and their black-and-white spotted dogs hang out the windows of a red fire truck. An old fashioned milkman delivers his bottles to one house. Plates piled with noodles balance in the arms of a diner waitress in her apron. A bikini-clad surfer girl rides a breaking wave on her surfboard, while a statuesque soccer player kicks his ball across a green lawn. A voluptuous mermaid reclines smiling in an ivy bed. The Mad Hatter holding a tea tray stands next door to a scampering White Rabbit checking the time. A menagerie of dogs and chickens adorn cars and trucks made from a miscellaneous collection of crazy parts and pieces one might find at the dump.
      Amiot makes all this metal and plastic trash come radiantly alive with personality and energy. The sculptures seem to be only momentarily frozen in mid-stride, mid-dash, mid-sentence. Their eyes, made of turn signals, pie tins, and mirrors, sparkle, and their faces smile with genuine delight. Arms and legs, created from kitchen utensils, vacuum cleaner attachments, and old hand tools, gesture and stride. Vacuum cleaner tanks, buckets, funnels, engine parts, and toasters contribute to bodies and heads. Vehicles are constructed from lawn mowers parts and yard tools, pots and pans, children's toy parts, and more.
     My son, Dean, and I visited Sebastopol, 50 miles north of San Francisco, in the wine country of Sonoma County, on our way towards Thanksgiving festivities last fall, after each spending some restful days at the coast. We strolled up one side of the Street of Art and down the other, stopping to point and laugh aloud at each yard. We scrutinized each piece, attempting to identify the disguised components, and picking our favorites. Dean took numerous photos along the way. (The pictures shown here are both his.)
     On our way out of town, we were surprised to see more large pieces of Amiot's junk sculptures about town, dotting our path, like the whole town has adopted Amiot as their "favorite son." We stopped to do a bit of wine tasting in neighboring Glen Ellen, at BR Cohn Winery, and were pleasantly surprised to be greeted at the entrance by four more of Amiot's objects d'art, four "classic cars" with canine drivers.
     What a joy to stumble upon such happy artistic expressions! We had an hour or more during which we were lost in time and space, laughing and chatting, being inspired and delighted by whimsy and creativity. Now that's fun! Florence Avenue enthusiastically brings to life the axiom, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

"I'm a junk artist and I think that's really my job is to let my feelings go with the junk." said Amiot. "The way it started was that I had this desire to do something other than my clay, so I decided to make this giant fisherman. I just put it right in front of the house and figured, well, if there was a city ordinance that tells me to take it away, that'll be fine. To my amazement, people actually enjoyed looking at it. People slowed down and waved. So that was the beginning, and then came another one, and they eventually started to go onto other people's front yards -- on my street, of course -- and then after six months I sold my first one." -- Patrick Amiot in an interview with "Spark" and KQED

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aerial Acrobatics...

Driving along a two-lane highway in Colorado's Rocky Mountains north of Fort Collins, my son, Dean, and I experienced an up-close-and-personal view of a Golden Eagle in flight. We had just dropped a friend off at the Shambhala Mountain Center and were heading back down the mountain towards the Denver Airport where Dean would catch a flight home to California. Low grass and brush spread out on both sides of the mostly empty roadway, with clusters of evergreen trees standing between us and the rocky peaks a short distance away. The expansive summer sky was a faded blue; billowing clouds were beginning to build over the mountains in anticipation of an afternoon thunder and lightning display. Our plan was to get out of the high country and down into the city before the storm began.
     Off to the left a large raptor appeared low in the sky, flying parallel to the road. We slowed to admire its graceful flight. It appeared to be hunting, and we hoped we might witness its soundless dive for prey in the field. The large, dark bird sailed smoothly downward and swooped across our path to land beside a dark mound of roadkill in the middle of the road ahead of our van. We slowed some more. The large bird-of-prey looked up, directly at us approaching, and once again took to the air. Logically, Dean and I presumed the bird would fly off to the side and wait for the van to pass before returning to its roadkill meal.
     Perhaps, this individual bird had not before encountered cars. Perhaps, it thought of us as competitors for its food. Perhaps, it couldn't comprehend our size and speed. For whatever reason, it made a nearly fatal misjudgment, and in doing so, performed a death-defying feat of flying skill.
     When the giant raptor rose into the air, it flew straight upward. Pumping its broad wings powerfully, it climbed only about 100 feet before stopping mid-air in a complete stall, like a plane in airshow. At the peak of its stall, it paused weightless, before rolling backwards, talons over beak, in a tight, slow-motion back-flip, then spun back around to face the spot on the road where its roadkill lay, and dove like a missile, plummeting downwards, wings tucked tightly for speed.
     I hit the brakes, as this was all playing out unexpectedly in the middle of the road just feet in front of our vehicle. The bird abruptly changed directions once more, a moment before it would have landed. It twisted and turned in flight, heading directly towards us on a collision course. Within seconds, its gaping black beak and wide dark eyes were inches from the windshield, its broad talons and golden belly in full view near the glass. Powerful wings, wider even than the car, made one last, huge thrusting stroke through the air above the van's hood, wingtip feathers brushing the glass, propelling its body up and over the slanted windshield and roof of the van. That last muscular beat of wings, together with the lift created by the still moving van, swept the bird up to safety and out of sight.
     That was a Golden Eagle! 
     That was amazing!
     What just happened?
     I'm not sure I believe what I saw!
     I did not just dream that. That back flip really happened, didn't it?
     What was he thinking? How did he miss hitting us?
     It's a good thing there were two of us to see that. No one would believe it otherwise.
     I'm not sure I'd believe it myself, if you weren't here with me to confirm it for me.

Aquila chrysaetos, the Golden Eagle
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
~ Alfred Tennyson

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Performing Live and On Stage...

     Is there anything that inspires the soul to fly more than live music?
     Is there anything else that speaks to every cell of the body the way music does?
     The other evening, I had the great pleasure of listening to the music of Ivan Najera and friends, all local artists, at The Center For The Arts in Grass Valley. Billed merely as acoustic guitar music, it was, oh, so much more than that. It was exotic. It was mystical. It was transporting and transforming. It was... beautiful.
     Najera's music combined rhythm and tempo from a variety of sources. There were flamingo, tango, and Cuban bits and pieces stirred and simmered with blues and jazz. His sweet guitar purred and sang, sighed and shimmied as he guided an ever-changing troupe of accompanying musician friends through a collection of his diverse compositions.
     Not a foot in the audience was still; bodies swayed and bounced to the intoxicating flow of melodic sounds. My friend, Bill, my host for the evening, and I sat in the second row of the small auditorium, with a perfect view of the stage. As compelling as it was to watch Najera's fingers fly sagely over guitar strings and Cuban drums respond to commanding hands, I found myself with my eyes closed for long stretches of time. With my vision intentionally cut off, my sense of hearing rose to the fore, and I was able to discern the subtle details of the music with greater clarity. I could feel the vibrations as they traveled through the air and the floor and into and through my own cells. The waves of sound moved through me like through water, and seemed to connect me, with web-like strings, directly to the musicians and their instruments. The effect was uplifting and transporting.
     Each of the musicians was masterful and contributed both solo performances and backup playing. There were saxophone, flute, two kinds of bass guitars, electric guitar, an electronic keyboard and a grand piano, and a wild array of drums and percussion instruments. All of the performers had periods of wild abandon when they sailed off into stretches of improvisation. Eyes closed, heads thrown back, hands and fingers flying over keys and strings, they seemed to be having no end of fun.
     I found myself lit up with happiness, as the fun they were experiencing seemed to fly out across the room, like the music itself, and land on my face in the form of smiling delight. The musicians on stage radiated their "flow" state to those of us in the audience. This sense of "flow" is often connected, in psychology, with "the pursuit of happiness" and a sense of "having fun" and often occurs when one is fully immersed in creative processes. 
 According to [Mihaly] Csíkszentmihályi, FLOW is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand... The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task (Wikipedia, "Flow (Psychology)").
      Being in the audience at a live musical performance of this level, with this quantity of creative energy, leaves me feeling like I was actually a participant in the event, not merely listening passively, not merely listening at the toe-tapping receptive level, but actually contributing actively to the sense of FLOW in the room. Every ounce, every wave, every packet of energy produced on stage was welcomed by this audience member, whose own energy packets and waves were thrown enthusiastically and spontaneously back toward to stage. The invisible, yet discernable waves of iridescent energy, danced and swirled, intertwined and airborne in the space above all of us, performers and audience alike. The space around and above us invited the rising creative energy with open arms, pulled it like a magnet pulls iron shavings, encouraging further spontaneous creation to multiply upon itself into the spaces within space.
     After the applause, after the encore and more applause, my friend and I left, nearly speechless in our appreciation of what we had experienced. It took time for the musical flow experience to be translated into words, and then they only came out as, "Wow! I mean... It was so... so... Wow!"

Find out more about Ivan Najera at his website
For more information about performances at The Center for the Arts go to

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods...

     The phrase "daily work commute" conjures images of gridlocked city streets and 7-lane freeways moving at a snail's pace. However, my own daily drive to work is quite the opposite. As the crow flies, my home and the school where I teach here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada are only about 8 miles apart, but the winding country roads that connect the two cover closer to 11 miles and take me about 25 minutes to traverse.
     As I head east, the road winds through the rolling foothills, the grassy hillsides dotted with majestic old oaks and the occasional gray granite boulder. Long gravel driveways lead to rambling old ranch houses sitting on 10 and 20 acre "spreads" that are home to both domestic and wild animals. Strolling families of deer and swarms of wild turkeys outnumber the grazing horses and cows and ranging chickens.
     The next leg of the drive takes me over the Bear River on a one lane wooden bridge. The road winds down into the steep-walled granite river canyon and then climbs back up the other side, leaving Nevada County and entering Placer County, in the heart of the old 49er Gold Country. When two cars approach the river bridge at the same time, one must wait, as the bridge will only accommodate a single car. Years ago, tires on the bridge made a lovely "clackety-clackety" sound as I drove across, but road crews have since paved over the wooden slats and now the tires simply hummmm. I love to pause in the center of the bridge and look up and down the canyon at the water tumbling robustly over rocks and through pools before bending out of sight.
     The elevation on the eastern side of the river is considerably higher than on the west, and the narrow road climbs steeply up the rocky wall of the canyon, winding tightly as it climbs. Not far past the river, the road once again narrows to one lane and twists and switches back on itself before crossing an irrigation canal that carries water from the high country swiftly down to reservoirs at lower elevations.
     On the eastern side of the river, the rolling grasses and stately oaks are displaced by tight clumps of conifers and views of snow-topped mountain peaks further east. Heading north, the road is joined on the right by train tracks, the western end of the Transcontinental Railroad, which eventually heads up and over the Sierras. To the left, unseen in its winding canyon, the Bear River flows parallel to the road as well. Twists and turns carry the road steadily higher and higher to the edge of serious snow country, before ending at my school.
     What I enjoy most about my daily commute is the ever-changing nature of the landscape through which I drive. The seasons paint their unique versions of natural beauty on the land as the road climbs from one distinct foothill landscape to another.
     Right now, in the depths of winter, it is the passing storms that provide for the dynamic and changing forms that beauty takes. Some weeks, the road is but a black strip slicing through a snow-covered white expanse, overhung by trees draped in shawls of white. Last week, with its series of wet storms passing one after another, the scenery consisted of gray-on-gray textures and patterns. The road was tunnel-like as it burrowed through the dripping trees to the sounds of the car splashing along puddle-dotted asphalt. This morning, the sun rose above the distant Sierra peaks and its rays sliced across a sky devoid of clouds for the first time in days. The wet ground glistened and steamed as the dampness began to evaporate, rising in tendrils and wrapping itself around tree branches, before disappearing overhead.
     I look forward to the coming of Spring, when the roadside will be decorated with wildflowers blooming under trees budding green, and the hillsides will turn an even lusher version of emerald, so intense one can practically see the photosynthesis happening. The Bear River will run wild with snowmelt. Each day's show of colors will be a bit different from the one before, making the drive something to anticipate with eagerness.
     Summer and Autumn bring their own dynamic versions of natural beauty... but I'll save that for later... no point in moving too far out of the present... not when the present has so much to attend to, so much beauty to savor... right now...