It Happened Like This


On the morning after the first snow, I went walking.   It was a teaser snow, wet and early and beautiful enough that one would not expect it to cause trouble.  It would be brief, this opportunity, because at 5280 and above we have less distance between us and the sun and there are lots and lots of brilliant sunny days.  Snow melts quickly early and late in the season.  A teaser snow, before winter has truly arrived and before fall has truly departed, can be magical.  Perfect for taking photographs.   But often brief. 

I was the only one walking in the winter garden that morning.  It was early, a weekday, and I was alone on the path.  It was already warming and the sun was getting higher and the light changing quickly.   In an hour’s time, I had walked the perimeter of the gardens, walked along the river, saw some mallard ducks and a coyote.  I walked among trees that were already dripping melting snow and gazed up through pines at a blue-blue sky that is signature in these parts.  I was walking slowly and carefully with my eye searching for the best way to capture this change of season.  

When I rounded the last bend to go back to the parking lot, I spied an old woman.  She was wrapped in a frayed brown coat and her hair was encased in a grey ski cap and she had on blue and green polka dot rubber boots.  She sat on a bench next to what in summer is a blooming water garden and she was talking to someone I couldn’t see.  The bench on which she sat was closest to the bridge that crosses to a small island,  at a spot known as Monet’s View.  In summer, this is a favorite place for couples to stand if they choose to marry in the garden. 

She seemed to be talking to someone across the water.   As I passed, she turned to me and said, “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“So very pretty,” I replied, and stopped to talk. 

I saw her creased face was smiling big, joyfully.  Her eyes were pale blue, tired, but still bright.

“I am here to thank Mother Nature,” she said. 

“Mother Nature did a great job this morning, didn’t she?”  I replied.

“You should thank her too,” she said as she pointed across the water. 

I looked in the direction she pointed.  I realized that the old woman had talked all that time to a statue that was partly covered with wet snow.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw there were three rabbits sitting at her feet.  Three small rabbits, ears tucked under, not a foot from her feet.   

She turned away then and said nothing more.   I continued on my way but thought about her as I drove off and went about my day.  I wondered why I hadn’t taken a picture of her and the rabbits.  I wondered how long she stood there talking to the statue before I arrived.    I remembered how peaceful and happy and warm and content she looked.

It was a rather odd encounter on the morning after the magical first snow.  But I knew that at some level, she spoke the truth.  It was undeniably beautiful. 

Tonight another storm approaches.  The second in a week’s time and after a high of 70 degrees yesterday.    Mother Nature is teasing us again. 


46 thoughts on “It Happened Like This

  1. Beautiful imagery and a very engaging story.
    I’ve been reading your posts here for a while now and every one you’ve written seems to be better than the one that came before. You should write a book.

    Bob Cloud

  2. I love how you reflect on life through nature. I love to do that too, I feel a kindred spirit with you. Your photos are amazing. I want to go on this walk! I loved the story.

    • Thank you Michael. It is marvelous that with blogging we can connect to our kindred spirits as we never before would have. I read your posts and am always thinking “yes, I get that.” Thank you for reading and joining the conversation.

  3. An absorbing vignette. We went on that walk with you. I especially liked that last picture They’re all great, as usual, but that scene of the walking bridge has some tantalizing texture.

    I was getting ready to razz our friends in Denver about their early snowfall until it came east and hit us too. Glad I waited.

    • Thanks Al. That might be my favorite shot too. You are right, best to keep quiet about nasty storms till you see the projected path. There might be a blog post in that bit of wisdom 🙂

  4. I would have enjoyed seeing the photo of the woman, particularly as she had the rabbits near by… a wonderful glimpse of mother nature indeed.
    Gorgeous photos, I’m always in awe of your landscape but I suspect part of that is that I don’t spend enough time taking a focused look at my own surroundings.

    • I know what you mean, Walker. I look at things completely different now than I did just a few years before—some of it has to do with being more intentional about paying attention to the ordinary and some of it has to do with looking at the world through the lens of my camera. Funny how much looking through a lens has made me appreciate very small snippets of beauty in the everyday. I think I was so surprised by the woman that I didn’t even think about taking a picture. And I might have felt I was invading her privacy if I had.

  5. All of the photographs are breathtaking. I think the reason you didn’t get a photograph of the old woman as that at some level — inherently — you knew that she was an angel. A blessing, to be sure.

  6. Beautiful photography! Colorado is one state I’ve not been to. I hear wonderful things about it and your photos give great testimony to that.

  7. We have little rabbits at our cabin – they are called bush bunnies – and they will sit quietly near our feet too!
    How wonderful to have a snow fall while there are still some leaves on the trees!

  8. I came here via B O T B and my friend Ursula:
    I am pleased I did. Over here we rarely get that early snow that early, whilst there are still red and golden leaves on the trees.
    Thank you.

    • I am glad you stopped in and took the time to comment too. Thanks. I enjoy these early snows though it does mean the end of the beautiful reds and golds on the leaves is near.

  9. Wonderful images, and since I really enjoy winter time, these pictures stroke a core in me. I think my favourite is the last one. The contrast between the colourful autumn and the bleak winter approaching is stunning. Well composed.

  10. Just occasionally we meet someone and often for a fleeting moment, who makes an impression on us. I think your old woman did just that. thanks for another great post. 🙂

  11. What a delightful story. Every once in a while, we are fortunate enough to have an interaction with someone that when thinking back, simply takes our breath away. The one you described here, is definitely such an occasion. Thanks for sharing both your story and such beautiful photos.

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