Autumn comes early in the mountains, and for me it is a time of endings and beginnings. It’s the end of summer tourism in the mountains - the beginning of our off-season adventures. It is the end of many sweet friendships made over the summer but the beginning of a sweet season of nuthin'-but-family. It is the end of busy-ness for business and the beginning of busy-ness with projects.
Seasonal transitions are good times for self-reflection. This morning, breathing hazy air of faraway fires, listening to horses whinny and snort while the wranglers brought them in from the meadow, I gazed into the changing leaves up on the hill. The pictures I took crudely immortalize their passing beauty.
Casting my eyes on the glimmering aspen, I ponder time. Ranchers and cowboys have been riding these hills for over a hundred years and I hope will be riding them for hundreds of years to come. They'll look at these colors, and I wonder if they will see what I see: the moments of our lives as numerous and colorful as the leaves on the trees.
But even this fantastical show of color in my mountains will wane and turn into winter when the last leaves fall. The infinities of youth wax into adulthood, and when all our color has burst upon the world, our last days will tumble to the frozen earth as well.
A friend recently told me something his father always says: whenever you have to make a big decision, you should make it in a graveyard – because there, looking at all that’s left of us when we’re gone, we can see what really matters. That date of birth followed by a date of death with only the notation of a loved one sums up the leaves of our lives collected into one tidy heap. More importantly, it reminds us that those moments are precious because they are finite. Call me sappy, but every day at Latigo seems to be a spot of gold I can call my own. I treasure my time with family and the friends of staff and guests alike, even as I realize it won't last forever. Summer ends, and I must say goodbye to the friendships forged over the hot months of work and service.
Take a second to breathe the autumn air when it sweeps through your heart and home, and think of the changing colors - what they might mean for the number of leaves you have left. Hold on to the beautiful leaves of your life, and be sure to find newer, brighter ones to scatter to the winds of time. I hope any time spent with us will be counted among them. Burn bright as you imagine the golden glowing aspens up the mountains at Latigo, and let your light shine.