June to November; Colorful Colorado shines

 


While it might be traditional in some countries to track events from May through to September, put it down to a later start or to simply thinking about it during June. No matter what turned out to be the catalyst, on the tenth of each month as summer approached on through to late fall, I was able to take these photos of how the seasons affected us. Without any preplanning involved I took each photo on the tenth of each month and the overall impact of seeing the transition one photograph to the other not only reinforced the passage of time but unfortunately marked our steady trek, one more time, around the sun. 

Maybe it’s being out on the deck grilling something tasty, but it struck me that I really hadn’t ever tried to capture the light and shade that came with each ever so subtle change in the weather. I hadn’t even really thought about this being something worth writing about. And yet, after six months and with the onset of the traditional holiday season, it is a way to highlight turning points of the year for those who don’t know all that much about living alongside Colorado’s Front Ranges.

In June with the upcoming transition to summer, the grass takes on a distinctly velvet look – it’s fresh, it smells wonderful and it’s teaming with life. The number of times we have seen golfers head into the marsh that lies between our home and the seventeenth green is too many to count but what no longer surprises us is the number of them who are prepared to look for their $2 ball where bull snakes live. The upside is that we don’t have a too big rodent problem as these snakes do the best to keep the rodent population in check.

 As for the marsh area or as it’s now called, the wetlands, many of the brown stalks turn green and there has been times in the past where the entire length of the marsh turned green, but not this year. It was blotchy at best. But what the photo above reveals is how our newly planted garden is taking hold with a couple of rose bushes beginning to flower. Who knew? Margo’s diligence in keeping moisture up to them and feeding them coffee grinds really paid off.

It wouldn’t take too much effort to spot the biggest change from June. In July our new patio furniture arrived and the large cantilevered umbrella was installed. Spread out over four summer chairs grouped around a wood fire pit, they certainly contributed to a change in usage of the downstairs concrete pad. So much so that tucked away in the background underneath the upstairs deck, we added a bar and a high-top table with a set of matching stools. Perhaps in a later post you will be able to pick them out as we ended up spending a lot more time outdoors.

Also quite noticeable is how thick the grass on the golf course had become with mowing taking place every morning. Leaving their distinctive crossing patterns as the mowers moved back and forth with the summer solstice fast approaching these diligent green keepers were hard at work by 6 am. It is hard to complain about any commotion out on the course at that time of day as it was perhaps the best time to see the golf course looking its best.

The days were still long with twilight stretching well into the evening. However, there were already tell-tale signs that the summer was coming to an end. The tinge of brown touching the grasses was becoming apparent and even at this time of the month, it was clear we would be in for a season of fall colors that would likely stay with us for some time. The cluster of grasses alongside our fence began turning golden and it took only a quick glance to know which way the wind was blowing.

With the end of summer and days after days of temperatures above 100F, a cool change was very much in order, but for the month of August through to early September, there wasn’t even a hint that colorful Colorado would soon be a thing of the past. Not a hint of change to be found anywhere but when you look more closely at the photo above, there is more of a gray tinge to the flora present in the marsh.  

Summer was still in full sway with the coming of fall still a couple of weeks away when the first snowfall arrived. A winter storm breezed in from Canada quite unexpectedly and the flora, still heavy with foliage, sagged beneath the weight of wet snow. In a single day we saw the mercury plummet from 96F all the way down to 36F and as night descended it just kept on dropping. To say that we were taken by surprise would have been an understatement, but then again, it’s Colorado and if we wait a day, it will all change!

The photo above, as already noted was taken on September 10. Little did we know that it would be only a matter of a few hours later that the Colorado vista would change in dramatic fashion so much so that our quality of life suddenly changed and when a short walk outside was not to be recommended. It was as if the summer snowstorm was deigned to entice us letting down our guard, but as the temperatures soared once again and the winds changed direction while strengthening, it was as if the depths of hades had opened up and their fires unleashed on an unsuspecting population.

The photo above is the only photo not taken on the tenth of the month and it was taken from a different vantage point. On the other hand, it was a photo taken only twelve days after the summer snowstorm. It was now September 22 and the smoke from the Cameron Peak fire blotted out the sun and there were times when, in the days that followed, there was little light at all penetrating the dense smoke. The Cameron Peak fire grew to become the largest fire Colorado have ever experienced and it was only a week or so later that the Calwood fire erupted suddenly, just a little to the north of Boulder.

The Calwood fire was not quite as big, but far more devastating as it raced down the Front Ranges with such intensity that the million dollar homes on the northwest side of the Lake of the Pines neighborhood exploded one after the other. Pictures taken by friends and emailed to us told the story and it left us feeling sad for the families whose lives had been so upended. These had been beautiful homes in an area we once seriously considered moving into, shortly after we had married. 

It is hard to tell from this picture taken in the fall. For now it was October tenth and of a morning, there was a chill in the air. At this time of the year everything glows golden and it truly is a sight to behold. The air was still heavy with smoke as the second snowfall that swept alongside the front ranges late October finally dampened the fires to where fire crews finally were able to bring these fires under control. 

It all looks so innocent when you see photos like that above. Then again, the Aspens may have shed the last of their golden leaves and the Cotton Woods had lost all of their color as well, but it still looked as picturesque as it did in the spring. But already we knew that winter was coming even as we went about battening down the hatches. Outside cushions were being taken inside and outdoor furniture moved deeper into the recesses of the patio and deck. The umbrella would soon disappear and further consideration of stepping outside to grill on the BBQ abandoned. With two snow storms passing us by and it’s not even Halloween, we began to wonder what winter had install for all of us.

And so it happened; our third snowstorm passed through the neighborhood prior to the tenth of the month. However, by the time the tenth came around, snow could only be seen in the shaded areas alongside the house and behind the berms alongside the golf course fairways. There was now no longer any green visible within the marshes and even the roses had long since lost their color. As for the golf course, it still looks pristine and even as I publish this latest post, golfers can be still seen playing a round!

On the other hand, it is colorful Colorado and with the sunshine you could be easily fooled into thinking we would be basking in another warm sunny day. Unfortunately as I took this last photo, the mercury was barely above freezing and we had to think twice before venturing outside to check the mail and pick up items from the store. It was six months ago when I snapped that first photo and the strange thing about this sequence, you really have to look at each photo very hard to detect the changes that occurred.

Yes, the snow lying on the ground is always a clue but after each snowfall, that glorious Colorado vista quickly returns. Cloudless skies, golden flora with an abundance of life. There is a myth about those who live in Colorado that for five or six months each year they live in a state of constant snowfalls. Each trip outside, miserable. A simple journey to the store, an adventure to forget. Well, let me dispel that myth in a heartbeat; for those of us living alongside Colorado's front ranges, there is no doubting that tomorrow will be even better than what we may have experienced today. 

And wile it might be tempting to head further south for winter why on earth would you ever want to do that!

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun

Shine on you crazy diamond

Let the seasons roll on even as Margo and I raise a toast to you all sitting comfortably as we often do outside on our main floor patio as we enjoy one of the last cool but not freezing cold evenings!



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