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Monday Photo Meditation: Roses and Diamonds

Dawn Via Film Camera

After a brilliantly clear darkfall last night, we awakened this morning to a dusting of snow. It wasn’t much — just enough to frost the surface of the earth — but intermittent morning flurries kept it from melting in the dawn light.

Most of it is gone now, of course; a wan midday sun saw to that, even if the clouds have since moved back in and the wind arisen anew. But more than a mere dusting remains atop the peaks, and that is where its presence is needed most right now — not for skiing, but for the spring thaw.

Such weather makes for a beautiful sunrise, even if it lasts little more than a moment.

Normally, the eastern peaks are not much awash in the colors of the rising sun; the angle is all wrong for that. In the first moments of the dawn, a shimmer of silver and gold limns the southernmost cliffs and outcrops, seeming to map roads made of light along the ridgelines of the south slopes. The face of each mountain, as they show themselves to us, is cast in shadow until midday.

But once in a while, snow and cloud and rising sun combine to birth a singular gift of the dawn, northeast slopes robed in the glow of an ancient rose.

At a glance (or a distance), it’s unclear what creates the effect. It’s actually a series of layered peaks, each carpeted by phalanxes of old soldier pines, stands of towering Ponderosa and squat piñon, juniper and less red cedars, spruce and fir and the occasional line of now-skeletal aspen. At that elevation, a snowfall of any but the most negligible amount will robe the trees entirely in thick white blankets. It turns the mountainside into something coldly lush and plush, as though the peaks have finally surrendered to the need to dress for winter.

And still, most days, they dance in the glow of pink and coral and red at sunset only, when the light that transcends the more-distant western peaks distills, among the low-hanging clouds and smoke, to scarlet. It sets the winter sky on fire, if only for the few moments before dusk becomes dark.

But once in a while, on such rare occasions as this, the clouds move in from all sides, their spirits descending to crown the peaks in crystal smoke. When the sun at last gains the crest of the southern end of Pueblo Peak, its rays fan out and reflect off the gray-white masses that surround our small world here. And at some point, the light, reflected and refracted through a spectrum of atmospheric ice, finds its mark on the southwest slopes of the northern peaks.

And in this week when the world celebrates love in all the shapes and shades of the human heart, we are given an elemental gift, a sign of the love of the cosmos: a meeting of earth, air, water, fire; of mountain, sky, snow, sun. Together, they paint the peaks in shimmering pinks, a momentary bit of magic outside of time and place and season.

It’s hearts and flowers, roses and diamonds, a gift of Father Sun to Mother Earth . . . and from the the spirits of the cosmos to those of us aware enough to see it.

~ Aji









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