Britta Gustafson: Deep winter | AspenTimes.com
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Britta Gustafson: Deep winter

Finding artistry with nature, humanity in balance

Britta Gustafson
Then Again

An aspen tree stand welcomes home the residents of North Ridge Lane to our quiet little cul-de-sac in Snowmass Village. The arbor of boughs, bending in unison over the small winding lane, seem to tip their hat in welcome: a natural arched entrance.

It’s easy to take it for granted, the quaint brilliance of that landscape-painting worthy curve down a little mountain lane. And yet once it commands your attention, it’s hard not to notice the artistry in a place where nature and humanity are humbly in balance, an occurrence that seems to be growing rare these days.

The scale of nature is still predominant along that short stretch of road, where driveways follow the curvature of the landscape and well-settled, modest homes of a bygone minimalist era are nestled into the forest.



Passing through that natural portal on my way home serves for me as a constant reminder of the fleeting nature of our dramatic seasonal peaks. How quickly we slide from the depths of winter to the summer solstice and back again.

The space begs me to appreciate the moment, as it too shall pass.




Those boughs are always dressed to impress in the season’s best. In the spring, donning unfurling green leaves, those accessories of rebirth accentuate the chalky white trunks peppered with their illusive aspen eyes. Soon the branches drip, tufted with their fluffy catkin seeds, preparing an incipient generation to embark on their wind-borne journey.

Blink, and the tall clusters of white are draped in quaking gradients of rich green, whispering with the winds their ebullient, deep-summer hymns.

Right before my eyes the drive is suddenly adorned with autumn’s rich palette, gilded variations of fall foliage glittering in contrast against the dark blue skies. Twirling gusts collect the fallen leaf-clusters, tossing them upward for a secondary flight like celebratory confetti, while the vesture beneath offers a golden version of a red carpet entrance down the lane.

Once fully disrobed, the abraded trunks sway bare, but only for a moment, in preparation for the dormancy of winter. Then just like that, and yet again, I arrive home, greeted by the arcuate sweep of aspens heavily garbed in billows of glistening white, cloaked in winter’s best.

This final passage to my home has oared me for years, transporting me along the passage of time. Each time I catch myself traveling along in the awe of a moment of seasonal perfection, I recall that just as winter seems so deep in the moment — endless — the summer will be here all too soon, this season yet another memory.

That pathway, today bejeweled in snowy crystals rainbowed by the sun, will once more be seeped in greens, another trip around the sun commenced, a referential touchstone for our ephemeral time on this great blue rock.

Even in the midst of deep winter’s lull, which can at times bring with it a seasonal slump, resist the urge to wish away the season. Life is fleeting and fragile and the cycles come on all too soon. If but for a moment’s pause, hold fast.


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