Having just returned from the east where the autumnal equinox arrived and the leaves began changing colors, it was momentarily disconcerting to see the Arizona desert again. How different. How spare. How glorious. Every landscape in nature has its own exceptional beauty. And Arizona has a special grandeur in its varying topography from desert to mountains.
Daytime temperatures dip now just below triple digits. An evening drop of 25 degrees means the evenings now cool sweetly. So what passes for moderating weather after summer’s heat starts to gradually descend on Arizona’s “Valley of the Sun.”
But my thoughts turn back now to my former, still familiar Sierra Nevada mountain backdrops. What passes for fall in the Carson Valley below Lake Tahoe and the Sierras of northern Nevada is so fleeting as to be almost unmentioned by those that live there. The only nearby vestige of changing seasonal foliage requires a short drive to aptly-named Hope Valley but where unlike the Eastern Seaboard, the leaves are almost monochrome in their solitary golden shades.
Summer is counted in days and fall is measured in minutes in northern Nevada. Then the cold harbinger of winter swiftly descends, barely skipping across the senses like a glancing stone across the surface tranquility of a high mountain lake. And then winter arrives. It is both enduring and to be endured despite that its resemblance to its frigid northeastern relations is only that of a cousin twice-removed.
The Sierra Nevadas stretch some 400 miles, mostly in California but among the most majestic vistas almost too many to consider are the multiple mental snapshots we take just looking out a home’s back window to scenes like that of a northwest Nevada clearing storm engulfing the peaks, including the one called Job at its 10,633 feet.
There’s a reason why this picture captivates and why it graces the masthead above. The swirling timeless high altitude clouds are in their actions irreverent of the mountains they enswirl. They contradict and conflict with the serenity of the Sierras.
Their irreverence is driven by enshrouding, oft-angry ever present valley zephyrs, which irreconciliably elevate and energize. The breezes soothe. And at times sudden gusts make doors difficult to close while bracing us with their force. Still others come down as gales, which buffet.
Paradoxically, these different winds can both excite and dispirit. They can energize and yet enervate. And at those moments when the shifting air raises us to nature’s spectacles, we are drawn to inward reflections that intoxicate.
Life moments and circumstances are also like shifting wind currents that soothe and batter. Life and law draw obvious parallels to these heady, rising, shifting windy variants of nature. And the constants within are forever.