A Rio Grande cutthroat trout caught by Craig Springer in September.

I have the most fortunate view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from anywhere in my home. As I write this, day yields to night — a time when Muses visit painters and poets.

Over the summer, I watched with dread as smoke billowed into the stratosphere, then trailed off eastward carrying the ashen elements of a mixed-conifer forest and, most sadly, abodes of mountain residents. Tonight, a towering anvil-headed autumn thunder cloud turns shades of turquoise and watermelon in the failing light. The trailing curved edge of the cloud as it brushes over the Sangres looks like a sheer lavender curtain moved by a breeze through an open window.

Fat raindrops wrung out of this moving artwork pelt the steep dusky slopes, softened by olive and blue needles of pines and firs and spruces spared the summer’s smoky tempest. Chilled water courses through granite crevices as it trickles downhill. The rain soaks into rivulets and then into rillitos. These noisy bouldered brooks soon beget the Pecos proper, but before they do, their waters stall in dark pools under the cooling shade of gangly alder trees whose roots knot up the stream bank.

Craig Springer writes about history, nature, conservation and the outdoors in the American Southwest. Find more of his work at

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