You’re walking along on a fine crisp autumn day, underneath a canopy of gold, rust, orange, yellow, and pale green aspen leaves, listening and looking for birds; mainly seeing and hearing only squirrels, when a cloud bank rolls in over the peaks. Suddenly, you understand why you’re not seeing many birds: They sense what is coming: The Aspen Wind.
The Aspen Wind in the southwest United States usually arrives when the Jet Stream meanders down south for its first serious visit of the year, dragging a trough of low pressure with it. The pressure gradient grows and pretty soon the winds are high enough that they would make the national news if they were blowing anywhere else, but the Southwest is that part of the weather map that national broadcasters stand in front of to tell us about the weather everywhere else. They must think we are weatherless out here.
This week the Jet Stream brought us some healthy winds. One community nearby experienced a 91 mph gust of wind and several locations recorded gusts above 70 mph.
That was enough for the aspen leaves.
Now, they are all on the ground blessing it and us with that marvelous, indescribable odor of a forest floor covered in freshly fallen aspen leaves.
And all that is left of their autumnal glory is consigned to blessed memory and some photographs.