Spring in the high country is not just about longer sunnier days, new birds,
intrepid wildflowers, green tipped aspen trees
and bear paw prints on the glass door leading out to the deck
and INTO the house.
Early May, 2012, arrived buffeted by strong winds and spring snow,
heavy and wet.
We welcomed the moisture, but soon lamented the loss of two of our
favorite aspen trees often visited
in a quiet meadow snuggled deep between
steep canyon walls.
Two summers ago when we first hiked into what we came to call
“The Big Ass Aspen Meadow,” we proclaimed the giants
“The biggest we’d ever seen.”
Later we returned with a tape and measured one:
Six feet, 4 inches in circumference at chest height.
Estimated height: close to one hundred feet.

The windfall in the photo measured 5 feet 8 inches around and 96 feet from exposed root to now accessible canopy.Big downed aspenNear the base of the trunk lay an enormous shelf fungus
sheared off in the catastrophic uprooting.Aspen Root

Aspen trunks, like the bones of the forest, stand strong and straight when healthy

but fall into bleached piles like so many dead ‘n down pick-up-stickswhen ravaged by heart rot or overwhelmed by heavy snows and fierce spring winds.
Quaking aspen,Populus tremuloides,
are surely one of the most admirable works of creation
as they provide food and shelter for more wildlife (both flora and fauna)
than any other tree in the forest.

A shady aspen grove is a nursery for tiny fir and spruce trees.
For elk and deer, an aspen grove provides
the food source that makes winter survival possible.
Elk held tightly in the frozen grasp of winter,
gnaw the trunks above snow line to forage on the high-energy, still-green chlorophyll
layer beneath the silvery bark.Before grass grazing gets into full swing,
elk eagerly nibble the tips of tender young aspen shoots.
Mature, glowing white trunks and trembling heart shaped leaves
offer humans a pleasant place to walk
or pause in peaceful reflection.For me, being in an aspen grove, no matter the season,
is a magical experience, a solace I would have thought impossible to find
this side of paradise.



  1. As per your usual, lovely writing that puts me right there with you! So happy to see your writings again! Go Jan! Suzanne

  2. Dear Jan, Your writing and the images and the informative data you supply in the subject matter really pulls me in. You are doing a great service for getting us all to go outside more and actually observe and then learn about the curiosities of our natural world…thanks, will keep reading. –melody from yoga

  3. Jan,
    i finally got the blog to open. VERY VERY PRETTY. Reminds me of Philmont and the Boy Scout Ranch that I spent 10 days camping in all that beauty. Love your flowing comments with lovely descriptions and new information on plants and animals. Keep it going.
    Bro Mike

  4. Jan- I’m just 1/2 way thru- will come back tomorrow– but wanted to let you know how wonderful this is– an amazing place to have a home. And I knew you were a terrific writer- but you are a great photographer too! It was really good to see you the other day. Love, the quiet Nancy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s