The Awe of an Aspen Autumn


Simon framed this shot beautifully on one of his 10-hour hikes! I sit on my backside painting, and he plays mountain goat and stays in great shape!

This autumn — this particular year, and with the particular combination of weather patterns that have caused a late change in the foliage to collide with the first snow of the season — has been absolutely ravishing to the senses! I simply have to share the beauty with you here. So indulge me, dear friends, as I attempt to transport you for a few moment to the stunning Castle Creek Valley near Aspen, Colorado. I promise you won’t be disappointed. (At least I hope you won’t!)


Westbury nestled in the woods … Far from the Madding Crowd.

I often liken Westbury to a treehouse because the sheer number of windows looking out on the mature aspen grove gives the feeling of being perched in the trees. This time of year, it can feel like the leaves are changing minute by minute. It’s quite extraordinary to witness.


Can you believe the color? No Photoshop retouching here! This is one of the few photos that really showed the true color. (photo: SP)

It’s hard to capture with words, but the magic of the autumn light, and the colors that are surrounding us just now, are soothing to the soul. Nature’s effect on us spiritually is a source of intrigue for me. And I am endlessly inspired, artistically, by what I see in the natural world. Beauty, both in nature and the manmade, gives me great joy in life.


The first gentle snow with the autumn leaves. My photo does not capture the magic, but I don’t want to forget this rare beauty.

Waking up to a fresh backdrop of white against the golds and greens was both rare and magical. Studying the sea of yellow throughout the valley, I am reminded about the uniqueness of the aspen trees themselves. They grow in large clonal colonies derived from a single seedling. Talk about power in nature! One little seedling is responsible for all of this? It’s hard to fathom, yet right in front of us it is not abstract.


Aspens turning before the first snow. This lemon yellow is normally the color of the aspen leaves, unless they have been hit by a strong snow or frost.

As many before me have spoken about nature so eloquently, I feel compelled to share a few of my favorite quotes about nature and autumn. I believe in them 100%.


The yellow is actually brighter, but the saturated blue and swirling clouds are that intense. (photo: SP)

Choose only one master—Nature.” —Rembrandt


I hope you are not getting bored with yellow and blue; between the both of us we, must have taken 500 pictures!!! One becomes obsessed with trying to capture the beauty. But think about this –what was the color combination of the china in Monet’ s kitchen at Giverny?

 “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.” —Claude Monet


And then… The snow came… Gently creating another layer of magic.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” —George Eliot


For me, this photo taken by Simon is dreamlike!


This is our road—far away from the glamour and hustle and bustle of Aspen. What a pleasure to have both the intellectual, cultural, social side, and then have the luxury of retreating to the peace, quiet, and beauty of nature.

“Autumn is a second spring with every leaf a flower.” —Albert Camus


After seven inches of snow we raced out at 8: 00 a.m. to capture this moment on Castle Creek Rd. It’s one of the most beautiful roads in America, in my humble opinion.

“Nature is the art of God.” —Dante


A man we met that morning on the road said that in his 40 years of living in Aspen, this was one of the stellar moments.


Before the snow….

And I sign off with this final piece of brilliant advice from Frank Lloyd Wright: “Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” How true. How true.

P.S. I’d love to hear some of your favorite quotes about nature. Please share them with me in the comments, if you’re inspired!

28 thoughts on “The Awe of an Aspen Autumn

  1. Your pictures are always so beautiful and inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing your world with all of
    us who might not ever get to visit these special places in the world.

  2. Gosh Carolyne, Aspen is really a beautiful place. I’m back in Vancouver for the autumn and looking forward to driving through Whistler on my way to the cabin. Whistler looks like Aspen, with aspens and maples turning this golden. (Although I’m hoping for no snow on the roads…lol) I can’t wait to see your paintings from this area. You’ve becoming very skilled. I can’t resist painting those golden leaves myself. I think they feature heavily in every sketchbook each year. Hope you have a wonderful rest of your time in Aspen and I look forward to more of your posts. 🙂

  3. Just breathtaking.
    Your photographs brighten the day.
    Opening your post is always exciting and like receiving an exquisite gift.

  4. Carolyne,
    This spectacle is for the soul. Your camera and Frank Lloyd Wright quote say it all. What an uplift for all that suffered with the floods.
    most cheerfully,
    Lynn Ziglar

  5. We missed the zenith of the changing leaves, our place is in Breckenridge. There is a sweet quote from “Groundhog Day” in which Bill Murray is reading from a poetry book and says “only God can make a tree” to his co star Andi Mc Dowell.

  6. “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
    – Rachel Carson

  7. Thank you, Carolyne. These are very lovely and inspirational photos. Being a native Bostonian and New Englander it sometimes comes as a shock to me that there are such lovely trees (but different) in the west. Your nature quotes are so appropriate also. Please share your watercolors when you are able. Thank you again for your artistic and sensitive soul and so very much for sharing it with us.

  8. Your glorious pictures are proof positive that God has been kissing your sweet soul and awakening every cell to his majesty.

  9. Dear Carolyne
    One with mother nature’s abundance of autumm beauty……you’re my kind of people.
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Thank you Carolyne for sharing these SPECTACULAR Fall colours. They are breathtakingly beautiful and confirm that nature feeds the soul!

  11. The snow made me think of this poem by Emily Dickinson.
    Thanks for sharing.

    It sifts from Leaden Sieves –
    It powders all the Wood –
    It fills with Alabaster Wool
    The Wrinkles of the Road –

    It scatters like the Birds –
    Condenses like a Flock –
    Like Juggler’s Figures situates
    Upon a baseless Arc –

    It traverses yet halts –
    Disperses as it stays –
    Then curls itself in Capricorn –
    Denying that it was –

  12. “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
    — Albert Einstein

  13. Love the photos. Truly beautiful scenery and so wonderful see. We are going into Summer in Australia but I would love to be able to see Aspen now. Simon is a very talented photographer. Thanks for a lovely blog.

  14. At first I wondered how you could leave NW Connecticut at this time of year, thinking that the ultimate beauty in Aspen is in Winter. Now I see how wrong I was.

  15. Carolyne, you’ve captured the season magnificently — wish I were a button on your shirt! Your stunning photos have made my heart happy, and I’d like to share three autumn thoughts with you. The first two are “author unknown.”

    “…apple crisp days of aurumn.”

    “The miracle of fall lies not solely in the death of the leaves, but also in the re-birth of the spirit.”

    “O suns and skies and flowers of June
    Count all your boasts together
    Love loveth best of all the year
    October’s bright blue weather.” by Helen Hunt Jackson

  16. I have followed you for years and delight in owning all of your books. Please put me on your lists for future posts.
    This was stunning!
    Thank you,
    Leslie Magidsohn
    And or friend me on Facebook!

  17. Glorious and uplifting. Thank you! My favorite quote: “Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” Elizabeth Lawrence. You are helping us to do that! Pat

  18. Color–Clarity-Composition–the 3 C’s of nature photography keep us inspired every time! Lovely! I thank you and Simon for sharing.

  19. Thank you for these stunning photographs. Colorado is near and dear to my heart….and Telluride is my little piece of Paradise. Once again, Lady Autumn has pulled off her parlor trick….suddenly a new day dawns and everything is dazzling shades of yellow!!

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