Friday, September 19, 2014

Montana autumn: Breathtaking Beartooths, stunning Tetons call

At top, the Tetons are in full fall glory and in the Beartooths
to the north, photographer Rick Cosgriffe takes aim on autumn.



The road to High Chaparral, north of Nye, awaits fall's golden touch.

IF, AS the great poet T. S. Elliot said, "April is the cruelest month" then September is the kindest.  Days are still long and leisurely, with cool mornings and evenings  accented by hours of dappled sunlight and moon beams.
The critters are on the move -- hummingbirds are taking their last gulps of nectar before heading south for hundreds and thousands of miles.
A hike to Sioux Charlie finds autumn cloaking the source of the Stillwater.
Woodpeckers and eagles, camouflaged by the density of summer foliage, are more visible on the telephone poles and branches.
A woodpecker finds a snack, to help him through winter.
HIKING OUR parks and national forests is a rare pleasure because the summer hoards have vanished.
Gardens produce zucchini the size of footballs. Corn, pears, plums and apples are sweetened by frost.
It's my favorite time in the northern Rockies, probably because I'm a hopeless romantic, and there's nothing like fall to bring out the romantic.
I'VE RETURNED to my favorite poets -- looking for poems celebrating the fall season, I've found classics by William Shakespeare, William Blake, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Emily Dickinson and John Clare. Their poems speak to the gorgeous contrasts in color celebrated by painters over the centuries:  brilliant purples, crimsons, oranges, scarlets, golds as the green fades.  Add one of those favorite painterly colors:  cadmium, a word I've always loved.
 With colors so bold and inspiring, why do we feel a bit sad, "afflicted with melancholia," as my grandmother Olive used to say?
Sunflowers and crab apples at High Chaparral -- the night before the first freeze.
Perhaps we're reminded of our own mortality, and brief spin on glorious planet Earth.
WHEN I TRY to outrun my demons, I turn to nature. It's difficult to be too depressed in this kind of beauty.  But because the days are growing shorter, I also turn to Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson and their eloquent "September Song," sung memorably by Weill's wife, Lotte Lenya.
 "Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September.
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,
One hasn't got time for the waiting game."

DESPITE the backdrop of increasingly dreary gray, nature takes on a brilliance and energy.  Just like my Irish gran Olive before she passed away and we played two-handed Mozart and ragtime on the piano.
Cookie enjoys the last sunflowers, the night before frost.
The harvest moon last week was stellar -- showering its glitter on the aspen below our bedroom window, bathing the berm in a halo of silver light.  Mornings are gorgeous -- clouds disappear like fairy dust. The showers come and go, and  thunder sounds like the sputters of a campfire.
SO WITH temperatures dropping, one spends more time by the fire -- safe and warm inside -- a good time to read poetry, or play that bittersweet "September Song."
"Oh the days dwindle down to a precious few, September, November......
and these precious days I'll spend with you.....

And the wine dwindles down to a precious brew...these few vintage years I'll spend with you, these precious years I'll spend with you."

Queen Mary turns 80 years old later this month; everyone's invited!
COMING SOON:  We're on the road again, enjoying this changing season and its gorgeous landscape. Stay tuned for tips on fun digs, eats and theater in Jackson Hole and Teton Village, and a look at real live cowboys moving their cattle to winter pasture. Plus Wapiti Valley near Cody, and Livingston's historic Murray Hotel. Plus the beloved Queen Mary celebrates 80 years with a bang-up party in Long Beach. Remember to enjoy, learn and live, and check us out Wednesdays and weekends at:


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