There is one time of the year in the mountains that is special and above all other seasons in my opinion. Spring, summer and winter all have their special beauty but it is fall that titillates four of our five senses.
Springtime treats us to slightly warmer temperatures and replaces the bleakness from winter. It is at this time that we have fields of wildflowers revealing their array of beauty and vegetation transforms from brown to various hues of green. New growth overshadows the drab that has remained hidden under the snow for our long winter months.
Summertime is short and therefore with the warmer temperatures we try to cram all the outdoor activity we can into those few weeks where we can be outside in a tee shirt or short sleeves. We then witness baby deer, elk and tiny bear cubs that are awkward but inquisitive and always under the constant eye of their mothers. Baby birds are being born and awkwardly try to fly for the first time. Suddenly insects abound and become annoying pests for a time.
Then comes the long months of winter where everything is buried under snow for what seems an eternity. Everything in winter is dazzling and glitters but also adds a cold factor that can chill us to the bone. None of these seasons equal fall in my estimation.
The only season that invokes four of our five senses is fall time. We see the aspen trees changing to various hues of yellow with some red-orange mixed in and the scrub oak trees are turning various shades of red and orange. When it rains, the aspen leaves produce a scent that simply can not be described. The balsam fir needles take on a heavenly fragrance and the warm pine needles emit a scent that just makes me want to bottle it up so it can be preserved and last for the remainder of the year. It is too bad blogs can’t have a scratch-and-sniff aspect to them so everyone could enjoy the wonderful smells of fall in the mountains.
The cooler temperatures on your skin stimulate your sense of touch like nothing else. It is a time of year to enjoy the invigorating feel of the cool air. The colors across the mountains are a breathtaking sight but only last for a very short while. Coupled with the cool air, smells and the sounds of squirrels chattering as they accomplish their last minute seed and pine cone collecting along with the non-stop elk bugling it all adds a unique aspect to this special time of year.
The only sense that is not directly involved is taste. For me, apple cider and cake donuts fill that void and maybe that comes from long ago memories of hayrides in the Midwest during fall time. None of the other seasons of the year can trigger all five of our senses like fall time can for me. Other seasons all have their highlights but in my humble opinion, fall does not possess one single negative aspect.
For example, in the winter there is a lot of hauling of firewood inside to burn in the woodstove in order to stay warm. Every time we go outside, we need to put on winter clothes along with hat and boots. Then there is the never-ending amount of snow shoveling and the bitter wind that finds its way through every seam in our coat. In the spring there are the muddy roads, the brown vegetation left over from last year and the still cool nights. In the summer, there are the insects, the hotter temperatures and the sweat from doing even small chores. I cannot think of a single downside to the fall season.
I would encourage anyone inclined and able to visit the Rocky Mountains in the fall of the year. It is a special time of year where you visualize the endless beauty and enjoy those aromatic smells in the air and be renewed throughout. If you are not able or can’t take a trip into the mountains during the fall season, I hope my sharing of how I experience this time of year brings some small understanding and pleasure to you.
It can soothe your soul like no other time of the year and the stress and confusion of more populated areas just seem to melt away during the fall. It is my very favorite time of the year, and I hope it can be yours, too. Fall is just a good time to feel alive and let nature restore you from the the daily grind and challenges encountered in routine life.
Even if you can’t make it to the mountains just taking a few minutes to take a deep breath and soaking in the unique smells of fall, feeling the cool air on your skin and viewing the leaves changing to brilliant colors whether it is in the mountains or in a city park is invigorating and refreshing.
If you live within driving distance of any mountain range it is worth the time to pack a picnic and take a drive to the mountains to soak in the soul healing balm that just seems to envelope you during the fall season. It is an excellent time to go for a meandering hike, stop at a park for a picnic or just find a nice place along a creek or in the woods to sit and absorb the healing that the mountain air, sights and sounds can provide.
Even better, take a fishing pole and go along a stream and try to catch a trout for dinner while watching the aspen leaves slowly float on the water. In my opinion, there is no other time like fall for making you feel good and to appreciate life at its fullest. The beauty, smells, sounds and cool air are more than worthy of your time.
For more about Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their life in the mountains go to McElmurray's Mountain Retreat.
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