Deep in the canyons of the Manzano Mountains a special event occurs every year. As the nights turn colder and the Fall equinox rolls by dashes of color appear amidst the green blanket of conifer forest. Oaks turn rusty brown and maples glow yellow, orange and a fiery crimson red.
Last year when we viewed the maples it invigorated our enthusiasm for making our home in Albuquerque. This year my mother was here visiting and it was very enjoyable taking her to the Manzano forest to walk amongst the maples, oaks, and aspens embedded in the pine trees.
It rained the night before our visit. Clouds peeled away as we arrived. We heard water drops splashing on leaf canopies and grasses as we ambled up the forest road and trails. Sunlight made the leaves glow. It was like being in a 360 degree theatre except everything was live. The light shifted as clouds washed past, momentarily eclipsing the sun. We breathed in the aroma of wet leaves and essence of pine. The sun warmed us even at its October angle.
The diversity of the landscapes here creates rich habitat and environment. It was startling to see the beauty of the maple forest up close. The Taos Pueblo people have the sacred Blue Lakes up in their mountains as the pure source of wild water. Albuquerque is enveloped in a wild world too, even if we are unaware or cannot always see it. Sometimes you have to close your eyes and use your imagination to see the beauty that’s real and all around us.
The sky, the colored canopies, the evergreen boughs, the wildlife, people aloft on foot with the circling earth, magic happens when these elements come together in the high elevation sunlight of a Southwest pine forest. Seeing the leaves changing and being there in a moment of morning glory with loved ones was an experience to remember. I change too like the leaves, deepening my gratitude as life unfolds, growing more connected to the life that sustains us.