Monday, October 1, 2012

The Fall Aspens and the Bird in the Tree

A week in northern New Mexico was more than enough time for me to explore the city life of Santa Fe and Taos.  A week in northern New Mexico was not nearly enough time for me to explore the hiking and birding of the diverse forested habitats.  A favorite hike was in Santa Fe National Forest, off the paved road that leads to the Santa Fe Ski basin, past Hyde State Park.  The multi-mile trail is an old dirt and gravel road, winding its way up elevation and providing beautiful vista views of the surrounding area:

For me, this hike was all about seeing the Aspen trees in their fall foliage, a spectacular yellowish-gold that matches New Mexico’s state flag.  The “quaking” Aspen, as they are called due to the dancing of their dainty leaves in the cool, dry breeze, provided spectacular ribbons of color against the dark green “Christmas Trees” that shared this forest habitat.   (The rick-man and I are formally educated by a grand total of one semester of college-level botany and are only beginning to learn tree-types as a supporting interest to our birding.  Any comments to clarify “Christmas Trees” (fir species?) will be accepted with thanks and a slightly embarrassed humility.)

My wonder at the Aspens quickly moved past their leaves to focus on their beautiful bark.  Textures have always fascinated me.  Whether produced by Mother Nature or human bi-products, I am awestruck by textures.  If I had any artistic talent I could spend a lifetime drawing and painting canvas representations of tree bark.  Many an afternoon I’ve sat with charcoal pencils and drawing pad, attempting to create a two dimensional representation of tree barks found in campsites across Texas state parks.  And many an evening I’ve thrown out the result, knowing no kindergarten teacher would select my picture for Open House display.

Mother Nature’s artistic talents with texture, light and shade are beautiful:


The rick-man birded as I photographed: 

My favorite keepsake conversation of the day was when the rick-man came up to me as I was looking down, busily manipulating my camera settings.  Quietly he said:  “What is that bird in the top of the tree?”  Looking up at a landscape painted with trees, I quietly responded:  “Which tree?”  And honest to goodness this was his reply, in absolute seriousness:  “The one with a bird in the top of it.”  I just stared at him and wondered at Mother Nature’s creation of male humans…

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