Subalpine is the forest zone that occurs below the treeless alpine zone. In the mountains, vegetation types change with elevation because temperature and moisture change as you go up or down. Scientists have devised all sorts of systems to describe these plant communities.
I tend to be intuitive and poetic, rather than analytic. I have always loved the subalpine zone. Getting there usually involves a climb up some steep trail, so when the trees get shorter and farther apart, I anticipate what the view is going to be like when I get to the top. I love the meadows. In summer they are filled with flowers and insects; as fall approaches they take on a golden tinge. If huckleberry is present, the leaves turn bronze, orange, and scarlet. The angle of the sun lowers in September. The air may be sweet and clear, yet take on a bluish smoky haze. The shadows deepen and cool. The snows of winter are still some weeks away from the high country.
The garden is full of produce, there are endless chores, and projects to finish before the snow flies. In my mind, I walk away from all of that and spend the rest of the month entranced by the subalpine.