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Everyone has a little different perspective on what goes on in this valley. That's how this column got its name. Part of that's probably because of the mountains themselves—we all have a slightly different view.
In my case I live squarely in front of Mt. Meeker, so every day when I can see the mountain I watch the sun go down in a different spot as the seasons roll along. A couple of weeks ago the long shadows of the sun at its most southerly fell all along Big Owl Road and the sun itself at this time of year seems to shed less light.
Now, however, it has begun its long march northward along Meeker's ridges from Wild Basin, where, from my perspective, it set on December 21st. I can measure its progress day by day, until on June 21st, it reaches its northernmost point, when it sets almost on the middle of Battle Mountain and we have to roll down the bamboo curtains on the screened porch to shield us from its brilliance.
For everyone who can see the sun set every day it's a little different or perhaps very different, depending on where you live, and of course those whose houses face the east will take their measurements by the sunrise instead.
Until I lived here all year long I didn't realize the breadth of the sun's travel, which is so accentuated by living in a valley with high mountains on both the east and west. When I was a child and here only in the summer, the sun always set somewhere between the tip of Mt. Meeker and Battle Mountain and it never occurred to me that it set anywhere else. In the winter I lived in Portland, Oregon, and you could never tell where the sun set, since you rarely saw it.
Now, through the bleak times of January and February, each day I see the sun set a little farther north. There is the promise of spring, which I know will soon follow its setting behind Buggy Top, just below the steep slope of Meeker's south ridge.
We measure our seasons in many ways—by the budding of the aspen and their turning, by the first and last snowfall, by the arrival and departure of the hummingbirds and perhaps most of all by Memorial and Labor Days. The unalterable journey of the sun back and forth along the skyline is an everyday reminder (which I sometimes find distressing) of the transitory nature of the people who visit and live in this marvelous place. But it is also a reminder (from which I take some comfort) of the abiding quality of the forces of nature and of our mountains.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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