Merry Christmas everyone.
(Maple Canyon. Mid September. ps- I didn’t even saturate this photograph. These colors are the real deal.)
Fall colors. I guess that’s what they do. Colors fall. Over a month ago I danced in firey trees, but I had to drive high into the canyon to find the most extreme color palettes. In following weeks, the yellows and oranges and reds came dripping down towards me. The lowest skirts of the Wasatch Range were an unbelievable patchworks of lobulate colors, decorating the dips and channels where water flows.
Then the colors flooded down to the valley floor, starting at the upper tips of branches and working inward to each tree’s core. During summer months, plant life agrees on various hues of green. But come fall, each family proudly flags a different color. And the heavy branches reveal how successfully each species reproduced.
Now the high mountain paths are fading to brown and the valley floor is swallowing up its rosey copper meal. Only the lowest tree branches still wear firey gowns. The earth will hold the fallen colors in until spring.
As the earth thaws in spring time, the valley floor will awaken and the colors will travel—in reverse direction now—slowly across the valley floor, up into the tree canopies, and then up the mountain sides. It’s a journey that takes many months. Not until very late summer will the mountain tops again be decorated in a rainbow of flowers.
(Big Cottonwood Canyon. Late August.)
For a few years now I’ve been welcoming in the new year by greeting the sun. This year at sunrise I hiked up a mountain with a dear friend…for eight hours…in 25 below zero weather. Stunning…in many ways.
The following two photographs baffle me. My neighbor’s crocuses are in full bloom. And, the ornamental pears on main street are blooming. In the tropics many plants bloom and fruit twice a year. Has anyone seen this happen in the Northern Hemisphere? I stand amazed.
Fall is here in full force (nod to the full moon on the same day as the fall equinox)! While I anxiously await jumping into my first leaf-pile of the year, I thought I’d just give a little recap of some summer highlights.
- Summer began as any well-respecting Wisconsinite might wish: with snow!
- It did a number on my tomato plants, but my harvest is still plentiful. Here’s a look into my bag after a recent harvest from my community garden, and a photo I treasure of my cantaloupe babies. They are definitely adolescents now, but are still in need of the vine.
- Early this summer I was privileged to be present when my sister was called and set-apart as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She will spend the next year-and-a-half living on a small northern island in the Philippians, serving the people and teaching them about how the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring added happiness and peace to their lives. Here’s a picture from the last time I saw her, as well as one she just sent home:
- While the summer was still green and lush, I spend as many evening after work as possible roaming through the mountains:
- Here’s a shot from one hike with my friend Kelsey- just days before she took off on a mission to Florida:
- In June, my work flew me out to San Francisco to do some training at the nation’s oldest science museum, the Exploratorium. The PIE (Playful Inventive Exploration) training was hands-down some of the most inspiring education I’ve ever received. More to come shortly on how we’ve been using that training to inspire more innovation and creativity from the middle-schoolers I work with. Here is a picture of me outside the museum, inside the workshop space, and beside some lovely sea lions down on pier 39:
- I flew on an overnight flight from CA to WI to spend a week in the great outdoors with my dear family. Here we all are under uncle Bob’s tarp. The thunderstorms helped us to get extra cozy!
- I spent Independence Day with my brothers, sister-in-law, and nieces at the Bees Stadium. Nothing like thousands of people cuddled on blankets, watching small explosions in the sky:
- I also spent some time exploring natural hotsprings:
- Discovered a new species of maple:
- (kidding about the maple….well maybe. Have you ever heard of a variegated maple?)
- Joined a group of daring souls on a search for the infamous kokanee:
- Saw some sunsets that literally brought me to my knees:
- Traveled through Utah wilderness with dear WI friends and family:
I don’t go to fairs for the games or rides. I go for the animals. Not because I relish in rows of caged birds or delight in seals who dance to 90’s music on the hour, but because I think it’s in my blood. I mean, I come from generations of solid farmer stock, and somehow to mingle in a crowd of people who are so proud of their livestock feels homey. The hum of cattle, the mingled smells of funnel cakes and roasted corn and hay and digested hay, children pointing from their shoulder-top perches, the pride of the blue-ribbon bearers…you can’t help but feel like you belong there, right? This year a pigeon even played peak-a-boo with me:
I, for one, never knew that pigeons could be so diverse.
and, here’s a bonus picture of a seal dancing to 90’s music.
When I sang this song at the top of my lungs, I meant every word of it.
The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears
My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
that rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
from a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray
I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I’ll sing once more