Golden Yellow Aspen Trees: Looking back 50 Years and down 35,000 Feet

Friday, September 09, 2022

Fifty years ago, this week, and looking down at the Rocky Mountains from an altitude of 35,000 feet, the memory I retrieve is hundreds of miles of Aspin trees, in their September golden-yellow magnificence. Glued to the window two hours into my coming-of-age trip, I guessed first that the amazing sight might be blooming goldenrod. Then I realized the blaze of color was not flowers, but autumn leaves. Growing up in Los Angeles, I’d not had much experience with fall colors. Sadly, my useless little camera had no way to catch the grandeur nor the color of the Quaking Aspen.

After the goodbyes in L.A., my views of the western United States seemed mostly parched and drab. After the Aspen in Colorado, my next strong memory is chunks of ice floating in Hudson Bay, then snow piled beside the runway in Iceland. Finally, I saw the first hints of dawn while taking off for the last leg from Glasgow. Travel stimulates memories like no other activity I know. I cannot remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I can reach back 50 years and recount my day-by-day events, conversations, and impressions for the three months of my travels. Then, I can contrast what I actually did with what I’d expected to do, and see how those experiences determined the rest of my life. It had been my original plan to take a brief look at London and then go to France. I would find a room, work on my novel, and finally learn the language that had eluded me through five years of high school and college coursework. Instead, my ADHD and ENTP curiosity would kick in. I would visit Wales, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, the two Germanies, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Israel. I’d spend just the briefest couple of days in France, leaving me with French I still can’t speak, and I am now 50 years closer to finishing my novel. Dwarfing all that, though, I left home an agnostic—although intrigued—but came home a firm believer in Jesus Christ. Between now and Christmas, regular readers of my feed can expect to see me reliving the highlights from those three months, though I have several off-topic essays in process as well (see ‘ADHD and ENTP,’ above). Oh, and I’m working again on my novel. I hope many of you stop by.


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