This year was the 19th Annual Alternative Fair at Evergreen Lutheran Church. An event that puts many in the community into the holiday spirit.
This gift fair differs in several ways from other gift fairs of the season. The vendors are all charities. 100% of the proceeds goes back to the charity. Local churches come together to pay for expenses, and to volunteer their time to man the event.
I love going and hearing about different charities. I meet kind and caring people from around the world and in the local area. I’m amazed at the clever and thoughtful ways people help each other.
The love flows in all directions from the gifts I buy. The charity is stronger, and the person I gift knows I love them. I can hear the person that made the item, “I made this with love.”
This year Mother Nature hurried to full color between the dry weather of fall and the prediction of a early snowfall. The yellows were bright, the reds just beginning when temperatures dropped drastically.
The beauty of the aspen is heightened by the contrast of the evergreen. It is impossible for the aspen to hide, they glow from within and shine in the shade. They are filled not just with color but with colored lights.
Driving up Squaw Pass Road towards Mount Evans the colors tease at first. Then appear more frequently along the road and in glimpses across the horizon. The road is full of curves and the line of visitors long making it difficult to pull into the small turnouts that quickly appear and disappear. Some turnouts are always filled by those that know the best spots because they make this trip each year.
Gratefully an actual parking area is not far up the mountain. People exit their cars and head through an open meadow towards groves of aspens that stand against the backdrop of mountain colors.
The area is large enough for everyone to enjoy the beauty while also having privacy. I leave my car with camera in hand to capture a piece of heaven to enjoy after the color is gone.
Once in the grove of aspens I can’t decide where to rest my eyes. Each bright color of leaves is gorgeous, the combination of colors side by side is gorgeous, and the stalk white and black bark is equally gorgeous. The entire tree fills me happiness.
Hopefully as the my yearly pilgrimages increase I will find more places to view the fall, and some of these places will become known to me as a close friend.
Sometimes they pose. Particularly noticeable are the males as fall begins.
The males get my attention for several reasons. They aren’t seen as often as the females. Since they don’t travel in groups like the females and babies do all summer they seem more unique. Their racks are majestic, and they come in different variations, sometimes the anthlers spread wide, sometime their arch is narrow.
Taking his time to sit relaxing, the one in the picture started off by showing me several several impressive profiles. Then he walked around eating the still green grass and allowed me to see his anthlers, which will soon be used to push other males around. In the next week or two the elk rut will be underway.
It’s mushroom time. This summer with all of the extra rain it was looking like lots of mushrooms would appear. Unfortunately the rain stopped and the heat went way up.
The climate in the foothills can change quickly and drastically. We have lots of tall grass from earlier moisture so the mushrooms that did show up this season have many great places to hide.
I see a few Puffballs, little white mushrooms, that are a mainstary around Evergreen on morning wallks. I check the usual hideouts for bright orange Charterelle and find them vacant.
This year I’m frustrated that I find so little on my searches, but I’m excited about my plan for next year because I found out about the Colorado Mycological Society. And about their forays to hunt mushrooms. I think it is time I look for expert guidance.
At Flying J in Conifer the Forest Management Project re-opened trails on the north side this summer. Now the south side is closed most weekdays and the project still has a year to go.
The project goal is to reduce wildfire risk, promote more aspen trees and reduce confier overcrowding. Unfortunately walking the trails it is hard for me to see the big picture. Seeing trees that are beautiful cut down and lying on the ground hurts. The squirrels are more visible as they run across the horizontal trees dragging off pine cones and pieces of branches to make their winter nests.
Hopefully as I continue to walk the trails I will get use to the new more open look. Hopefully the project goals are met and I will have many years to see what changes occur.
Watching water birds at Evergreen Lake is fun. I’m allowed to be a stalker, watching their moves while they don’t seem to notice me at all.
I love watching the grebes dive under water swimming up Little Bear Creek. It’s a game to guess when they will reappear. I’m usually surprised how far they travel underwater. And amazed as they dive again and again without slowing down or seeming to tire as they swim up the quickly moving stream.
Watching ducks is more like watching puppies at play. Floating along they tilt foward, leaving only butt feathers visible as they bob like a cork. When they right themselves they act as if nothing has happened. Moms and babies dart in circles and zig zags as if they are wind up toys that have been over wound.
Watching the geese fly over the lake in their v-formation, then drop into the lake I see they have a regal attitude. They form groups as if they are tourists out for the day. They float along grebes, boats and paddle boards without any sign of hesitation or fear.
Evergreen has lots of wildlife, but what makes the lake special is that you get to see it up close.
This has been a special summer. Spring provided lots of snow and rain to get the flowers started, but something even more unusual happened when rain appeared frequently in the afternoons each week.
Most summers by the end of June the dry heat shows ups by mid-morning and doesn’t stop until late afternoon as the sun sets and the temperature drops. This year late afternoon showers have continued into August. Sometimes the rain is steady and hard, with thunder and lightning thrown in for a little extra punch.
Because of all of the moisture the flowers line the trails as if spring were still here. The colors are strong, and the sun stays behind clouds enough in the afternoons for moisture to have a chance to hang around.
The mornings are dry and the temperatures dip to the high 50s so morning hikes are guaranteed.
In the afternoons sitting on the deck waiting to see how much rain will fall the birdfeeder is full of birds such as the Western Tanager that is flying through and the many kinds of woodpeckers in the Ponderosa and Lodgepoles. The smaller woodpeckers take turns chasing each other around the trees in their jerky little dance while the larger Flicker intimidate with just their size.
I grew up believing exercise was not meant to be fun, involved lots of sweat and caused some pain, but was good for you and needed to be done. Because of this belief I took a jogging class for one of my physical education classes in college in Denton, Texas.
First day in class I was excited when the teacher said after this class we would want to continue jogging for the rest of our lives, that the high you feel jogging is addictive. Hearing that anyone, not just professional athletics could get an adrenaline rush I was hopeful I’d enjoy this new sport.
Day after day jogging remained torture. I did my best to keep up with others in my class, and kept waiting for the jogging addiction to kick in. I did not give up because I needed the class, but I never became a jogger and when the class was over, I threw my jogging shoes away.
Fast forward thirty years and I’m no longer living in Texas. Now I live west of Denver, Colorado in the foothills of the Rockies. I started hiking to learn the wildflowers and to see wildlife. I let go of the voice in my head that said I was a wimp for not feeling pain and found hiking is my sport.
Walking outside is the perfect way to start off my day. After a walk my soul has been fed and any tension has flowed away. It’s as if I feel myself sink into all the beautiful, fun things Mother Nature shows me.