There are not many things that I look forward to more than fall. I love cold mornings and the crisp breeze that blows in right at last light in the evenings. Time can seem to stand still while the sun makes its last appearance before leaving its grand stage that is oh so beautiful. Slowly watching the landscape change from vibrant greens to colorful oranges, reds, and yellows is truly an experience. Mix in a snowstorm and the aftermath paints a picture that no artist can truly replicate. The only copy of a scene like this can be made in your mind as like a faded picture or a distant memory that is close enough to catch a glimpse, but just far enough away so that you can’t truly grasp its pure nature. These moments can be found easily but are rarely cherished, and can soon become forgotten.
I have been fortunate in that I have experienced many amazing “moments” that I will only ever know. Rather it is being trapped on a ridge in New Mexico while watching a thunderstorm roll past me onto the desert floor below, or sitting a few extra minutes after last light to just soak in the moment, sometimes the best moments aren’t ones captured by a lens. Pictures soon fade and can be misconstrued as something they aren’t, but memory is yours to keep and cherish.
The closer I get to the fall, the more vivid these memories become. Fortunately for me, I do not have to wait until the fall to start hunting as hunting seasons starts very early for me this year. I don’t think I could make it to the fall frankly as I am becoming more and more restless every night for adventure. I have waited many hours in a blind, tree, brush, laying on rocks, laying on snow, sitting in the rain, you name it, and yet I still seem to be so lacking in patience. Patience can be best taught through observations in Creation I think. Take a large aspen tree for example. Not one that is a foot in diameter, but one that is truly ginormous (the most exaggerated word I can think of). There is a tree like this on a pass that I drive many times a year. Every time I pass this tree, I take a short glance, and it always takes up a few seconds of a memory. The years that tree has spent growing, the cold winters, the avalanches that have almost taken it down, so many obstacles yet it stands there firmly.
Waiting is hard. I hate waiting. I want everything to happen right away so that I don’t have to stress about it. But then, I think back to that aspen tree.
I look at his root system. Years and years of growing and he has built a strong support system. I see this as the many people in my life that have helped me along my path and developed me in different ways in becoming a man.
I look at his bark and the gnarly scars, knots, and gashes that are ever so present. I see this as the days that I had to take hardships. The days where I was hurt mentally and physically by people. But through all of that, I was able to see beyond the actions of these people and see that there was something more that was going on. Something that would allow me to help others because I had been through those times, but knew how to endure them and to conquer those hardships.
I look at the branches that stretch ever so far. These are the channels that I have to support, mentor and care for people in my life. Some of the branches are thick so that it makes it easy for me, and some of the branches are small. These small branches have an opportunity to become great if they are fed properly and watered daily. Some branches will break off, and it may be a mystery for a period of time. I may question why I lost those abilities and skills or why I am in a place where I can not follow through with “my” set plan.
I see the leaves of the tree that are ever-changing. This is what people see and think about me. During the color season, people can look at a tree and see its many leaves, but these leaves cover what is inside. The tree could be dying inside or can be missing important pieces that it needs to live. That goes to show me that I can appear to be in a phase of life that is great but can be dead inside. And as a sickness eventually shows itself, the leaves on the tree will fall, and the effects of the disease no matter how big or small will take effect.
I’m sure this tree has had many bad days, but it has stayed strong. It has stayed its course that it has set forth. This shows me that I am only as strong as the people that I surround myself with, my roots. When times get rough, and I feel like quitting or falling over from an avalanche of worries, my roots will take hold. My roots will strengthen my branches and allow me to serve others, and my scars will show people that I am there for them. People want to see your heart, and your actions are the reflections of that. How you treat people, how you respond to situations are all things that show who you really are.
I truly love being outside and being on a hunt. There is just something about the nature of being surrounded by beauty, chasing the impossible and leaving fear of the unknown behind. Call me emotional or call me stupid, but I just flat out love it. The memories made, relationships established, lives changed, and goals accomplished is what life is really about.
The days spent waiting for that adventure last ever so long, and the moments spent on an adventure go in a blink of an eye. My advice to you would be to enjoy the little moments. Maybe that’s glancing up at the clouds as the sun peaks through or watching a stick move down a small mountain stream.
Go out of your way to teach a skill to someone and be open ears when knowledge is presented. And if you ever find a suitable tree, take a few moments and let your mind wander. You might just learn a thing or two.
2 thoughts on “Lessons from an Aspen”
Love your writing…your pictures…your heart! I think you would enjoy the poet, William Wordsworth. Have you ever read him?
I hope to go over that next ridge with you.