Tears

Seeing autumn in the U.S. National Parks has been like seeing mountains wearing color-changing clothes.

I’ve always looked forward to the fall editions of my Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn magazines because they so beautifully illustrate the fall season. The magazine covers typically feature a meticulously designed dining table adorned with pumpkin, mustard and walnut colored place settings. Simply seeing these images puts me in the mood to start a roaring fire and enjoy it while sipping a cup of mulled cider.

But being outdoors this fall season has shown me the beautiful artist Mother Nature is to inspire such images.

Autumn is a transition period Mother Nature uses to prepare for winter. When I thought about this, it amazed me that all the trees and foliage know exactly when to start changing color and shedding their leaves.

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While driving through the parks I was in awe of the extreme differences in coloring from one park to the next. At Glacier National Park in Montana, it appeared as if someone inserted a drop of yellow dye in water and it was slowly expanding. A large area blanketed in yellow would be surrounded by small yellow specks cropped up in the brilliant, emerald-green.

The Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming was unique in that the mountains appeared as if they were wearing clothes with a sort of leopard-type pattern.  There were large areas of deep, pine green with thin lines of fall colors running throughout them. It was as if someone sprinkled turmeric and cayenne powder between the tree lines for dramatic effect.

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While driving on the Going to the Sun road through Glacier National Park, the scene was so beautiful I had to stop my car to admire it. Standing under the trees while the leaves fell above me, was such a humbling experience. It was the second time while on this adventure that I literally said the word “wow” aloud.

The first time I was humbled by Mother Nature, it was so surreal it brought me to tears. I was driving through Grand Teton National Park when I heard this unmistakably loud sound. It resembled the sound those flexible jumbo straws make when you blow air through them. I looked on my left to find the most magnificent-looking animal I’d ever seen. He was a bull elk and had these giant antlers with off shoot after off shoot, to the point where they must have towered at least 3’ above him.

I had to pull off to the side of the road to admire this magnificent beast of an animal. While I watched him make that loud burst of a noise over and over again (I’m assuming this was super sexy to his fellow, female elk friends) I couldn’t help but feel so fortunate to be witnessing this raw showcase of nature.

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There was something about the way he bellowed out this noise, and its echo off the mountains, that brought me to tears. At that moment I felt that feeling, when you don’t know if reality is reality or a dream. I had dreamed of having a raw moment with nature like that for such a long time, and there I was, living it. It’s one of the most impactful experiences from nature on my life. And it only took the elk-equivalent of trolling for the ladies to do it.

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