©Bert Gildart: As we departed Montana two days ago, driving over Lookout Pass, the tamarack trees glowed in a way one seldom ever sees. The species holds the distinction of being the only coniferous tree that sheds its needles. This aspect of their biology creates a beauty shared by no other North American conifer.
Properly described, the species is a deciduous conifer and in the fall, generally around November, needles of the tamarack turn to a rich yellow and then stay that way for several weeks. But as the season progresses, the gold coloration gives way to rich brown. Eventually, virtually all the needles are excised from the tree and then they stand barren, waiting for spring when the cycle repeats itself.
But right now few species can claim more beauty. True, the New England states have maples and birch that punctuate the landscape with their yellows and reds and the south its profusion rich berries, but I maintain that few settings can compare with Montana when tamaracks turn gold and when they in turn are back dropped with a fresh dusting of snow.
That’s the way it was the other day as we passed over Lookout Pass. The beauty of the scene prompted many to pull to the side of the highway for a lingering look, suggesting that some, at least, are still awed by the basic transformations of nature.
THIS TIME THREE YEARS AGO:
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