Elevated Spring

By Mike Johnson

No one east of the Mississippi lives at higher elevation than me. In fact, the balcony behind my barn is one foot taller than the highest point out east, Mount Mitchell, NC.
But many easterners vacation out west each summer, gaining a taste of elevation.

Some get altitude sickness. Itís random. Even the healthiest, burliest men. Reduced oxygen Ė even temporarily -- does strange and invisible things to people. This is why wearing masks at school and work is so harmful.

But most visitors adjust quickly and are amazed by the fresh, chilled, clean air. Low humidity and no pollution, combined with a light breeze is like flushing your respiratory system with fairy dust. Itís like living in an entirely different atmospheric aquarium. You feel ten years younger.

That, combined with fewer people, quaint towns, majestic landscapes, abundant wildlife, and lower cost of living, cause some to pause for introspection. They connect the dots and start plotting a permanent move west.

Thatís what happened to me when first exposed to this area at age ten. I finally made the move at age 39. I dilly-dailied way too long.

Most of our snow has melted up here on the mountain. Snow patches are scattered about the wooded, elevated bowl that surrounds our back yard. Theyíll survive deep into May.

The pines are lush, heavy with closed cones, grocery stores for squirrels this fall.

The deer numbers have plummeted, attracted to the greening grass lower in the valley. The greenest is on the roadway shoulders, creating danger for both man and beast. Body shops and golden eagles busily work on the carcasses.

The chipmunks just popped out of hibernation. Constant movement, racing all over the woodpile, happy to be alive.

I saw a pair of bluebirds yesterday. The hummingbirds wonít be far behind.

Itís finally spring in the Rockies.



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