Shyla and I made it out for sunrise this morning - one of my favorite things in the world.
The sun was relaxing and warm. The world was serene. No wind, no noise, except some birds singing.
It was a morning for gratitude. Gratitude for the sunshine and beauty, gratitude that I felt decent, gratitude that I have Shyla in my life, and gratitude that R was capable of going running with the Runner. I knew the two of them were enjoying the morning too.
Shyla seemed very in tune with me, watching me so carefully at times.
After spending some time enjoying the sunrise, we hiked up to Hug Hill and took a break there for some training. On Hug Hill, we worked on "leave it". I put a favorite ring toy in front of Shyla, and I made the game even tougher by putting a pile of treats in the middle of the ring. I told her to "leave it".
This was her reaction. Eyes slammed shut and head turned away to avoid all temptation...
Eventually, she did open her eyes and relax. But her strategy didn't change. She didn't even let her eyes stray toward the temptation until I released her. In the next photo, I had said the magic release word.
Fun and games on another beautiful day in the Rockies!
I had planned to write about Shyla's recent trips to town and how she's handling her fears - but I can't. The reason is that it was one of the most gloriously beautiful mornings in the mountains that I can remember.
I expected it to be cloudy, a holdover from our all-day snow storm yesterday, but the azure sky was cloudless. Shyla led the way almost impatiently. I'm a bit slower since my surgery and other health challenges but Shyla wanted me to hurry today!
The sky was the purest blue - the definition of a "Bluebird Sky" and the white snow pillows on the pine boughs looked beautiful against the sky.
We caught the tail-end of the sunrise light, making Shyla glow reddish. When I see her look at me like this, I melt. She is an amazingly loving dog.
We hung out in the sunshine, enjoying the day. One of my favorite places in the early morning is a plateau where we can survey meadows below us. That's what Shyla was doing as she stood on a snow-covered boulder.
It was a "spring snow" because the warm sun baked the world rapidly. Shyla was comfortable to lie in the snow, soaking up the sun rays.
She even dozed off...
In our area, snow at this time of year usually turns mushy and falls from the trees by the afternoon, so we made the most of it this morning.
We even hiked all the way up to Hug Hill, to see the beauty of springtime in the Rockies. Those are very high mountain peaks in the background. Heaven on Earth.
Eventually, it was time to head for home. Shyla led the way.
On some days in the depth of winter, when the wind is whipping the snow in our faces and it's about zero degrees or colder, I harbor secret doubts about why we live here. On days like today, I have absolutely no doubt why we live here. These glorious mountains are an idyllic home for us and our dogs.
P.S. I must thank, from the bottom of my heart, whoever anonymously nominated this blog for a BlogPaws Award. To my utter surprise (because I didn't even know we were nominated!), we are among the four finalists. Thank you so very much!
Springtime in our neck of the woods is unpredictable and wild. Yesterday, we had a little bit of sunshine, teasing us before the current storm.
Because I've been a bit more subdued on our hikes since the migraine-induced haze hit, Shyla has been making fun for herself, zooming in circles around me carrying all sorts of objects.
When we returned home, a visitor came to our clearing who had zany ears! First, he peeked in the window just feet away from me - a Peeping Tom. Then, I went out to capture his handsome visage.
He was a dark-colored Abert's Squirrel.
He wasn't certain that he trusted me and stayed up high for a while.
Soon, he became curious and peered at me from his perch in a Ponderosa Pine. These squirrels live only in habitat that includes Ponderosa Pines, which limits their range substantially.
Since I hoped that he'd visit again, I went inside at that point to avoid scaring him off and to give him space to forage.
And, because it's wild and crazy almost-spring here, we woke up to this today!
Shyla wore my hat briefly, and then we hiked out into the snowy world. I've learned to welcome these wet snows that hit from March through May because they are nature's way of nurturing the wildflowers, the first of which should poke out of the ground in a month or so!
We live in glorious and beautiful mountains that we share with a variety of wildlife. Some are big predators who can hurt our dogs so we work hard at training them so that we can keep them as safe as possible.
More than a month ago, a mountain lion killed a young bull elk in our forest. When I first saw the carcass, I thought that the lion was finished with it and had moved on. The carcass was gutted. Meat only remained on the neck, head, and legs. On the first night and following morning, coyotes feasted on it, seemingly proving me right that the mountain lion had moved onto more hunting.
It turned out that I was very wrong. A mountain lion arrived on the scene soon thereafter. I don't know whether it was the same lion as originally killed the elk.
My trail camera emits a soft red glow when taking photos, and the lion noticed it right away. These two photos are in rapid succession.
After checking out the camera, the mountain lion started working on the area of the carcass with the most meat remaining - the head and neck.
He'd occasionally stop and look at the camera.
I think that after the photo above, he decided to move the carcass away from the crazy glowing camera. First, he pulled backward.
Then he gazed into the distance, perhaps planning his route.
A hard look at the camera again...
Look at that strong body he has...
Finally, he got serious, and he picked up the head.
...only to drop it again, and then try to dislodge the carcass from its spot with his front limb. I bet the carcass was frozen to the ground.
And then he passed directly in front of the camera, dragging the carcass. This is the lion's fur.
Almost an hour later, the mountain lion returned to where the carcass had been before he moved it and licked his chops for the camera.
Then, a long time later, a bobcat investigated the spot where the carcass had been. Doesn't he look tiny compared to that mountain lion?
That whole scene explains why our Duo doesn't wander around by themselves and why we expend energy training them. Of course, nothing can totally protect them from ferocious predators but we try to strike a balance between giving them a fun life and keeping them safe.
Fortunately, I wrote this post a while ago... because, with my new medicines and lots of rest, I've managed to evade the evil migraine monster for two days (so I'm taking it easy again today, trying to keep it at bay). Thanks for all of your support!
As many of you know, I love being out at sunrise and sunset. One thing I love about it is the "magic light" for photography. I find the light to be almost mystical, with the spotlights of sun surrounded by the darkness of the forest.
So, Shyla and I do our morning outing around sunrise, and the Duo and I are out around sunset. I'm so happy that R can now walk far enough to join the sunset hikes.
One downside to these times for being outdoors is active wildlife. For us, the most common issue is coyotes. Because there are many coyotes and their habitat overlaps with where humans love to be, they worry me more than mountain lions. As soon as we get close to a meadow, I get both dogs on leash, and I scan it for coyotes.
The other day, like many days recently, I spotted a coyote right away. Do you see him lying in the snow in the photo below?
As Shyla and I hiked that morning, the coyote started trotting in parallel to us. Shyla was on leash but expressed absolutely no interest in charging after the coyote, a fact that made me very happy.
As we hiked, the coyote stopped frequently to check us out - while keeping a pretty constant distance from us.
Finally, he went behind a boulder and started barking. At first, it was much like a dog bark and then it became a yip/howl. We stood a distance away, and I recorded his song. However, I discovered that I moved the camera around so much during the video that you'd get sea-sick watching it so I won't share it here.
After his song, the coyote retraced his steps back toward where he'd started. I'm not sure what the display was all about - except perhaps to tell his pack-mates that we were in the meadow.
Neighbors are saying how much more often they see coyotes in the meadows this year than in the past, and I think that the reason might be that there are two new houses on the edges of meadow. It appears that the coyotes' normal secretive routes through the sparse tree groves and boulder-strewn areas in the meadow have been blocked by the houses and outbuildings. For the foreseeable future, I think my dogs will be staying on leash in the meadows. Perhaps the coyotes will figure out new secretive routes as time goes on.
It's okay with me to leash my dogs in the meadows. I believe in figuring out how we and the wildlife can accommodate each other and share the natural world. I can still enjoy sunrise and sunset without my dogs romping in the meadows. Recently, the sunset light has been glorious, and we've been soaking it up.
To close, I want to thank you all for your supportive comments yesterday. I am still in a migraine-induced haze today, and I've decided to try to limit my computer time and rest more for a little while. I need to break this cycle of migraines, and there's a remote chance that will help. I'm going to try to keep my posts shorter, and I may not visit blogs quite as regularly. I apologize in advance but it should be temporary.
The past week has been trying, in many ways. Although I haven't written about it here, my health has been the biggest issue. On the good news end of the spectrum, I think that my shoulder is healing very fast. I actually forget that it's not healed at times - and then I make a "normal" movement which immediately reminds me that I still need to be careful. I'm awed by how fast it is getting better.
The toughest thing over the past week has been that I've had four migraines (in one week). The most recent one was last night, starting with a terror-inducing light show in my vision. I don't know why the visual auras scare me so much, but they do. Then it moved through the other migraine symptoms, including a throbbing headache, which I still have a trace of now.
This morning, I was ready to quit trying to be happy - to just keep my head under the covers and do nothing at all. But, alas, I have a young dog who sees me as her source of fun and games, and she does not permit sleeping late! She smothers me in kisses and brings slippers and shoes to me when I lie in bed beyond her wake-up time - a very clear message!
After Shyla got me out of bed, I put on my very dark glasses and trudged out the door with her, my head hurting with every footstep. I'd taken my meds, and I was hoping that they'd kick in during the walk. In the meantime, Shyla was bursting with zany happiness. It was impossible for me not to smile as I watched her.
Indeed, I very gradually felt the pain in my head letting up a bit. I could notice Shyla's beauty rather than cursing my head.
Of course, even though I feel a little better now, something seems to have gone awry in my brain to cause all these migraines. Some of you remember the discovery of nodules in my lungs a few years ago - that ultimately led to a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease.
Unfortunately, my doctors are pursuing the notion that sarcoidosis has "attacked" my brain, and that's why I'm having a sudden onslaught of migraines. I had an MRI yesterday, and the images seemed to support that notion but I'll get more information from experts soon.
Everyone has their own unique way of handling crises. At the beginning of a crisis, I have a bad tendency to invent ways of blaming myself for it. In one of my most serious crises years ago, when I learned that I couldn't have kids because of endometriosis, the self-blame game dominated my seriously flawed thought process. My crazy logic was that I'd been working too hard and had somehow caused the endometriosis by tiring myself out too much. Needless to say - that's impossible.
It took an insightful person to point out that "self-blame is a way of claiming that you have control over what happens to you" - and she went on to gently suggest that accepting that I don't have full control is a better strategy. That advice changed me forever. It's part of why I make a point of seizing each day - because I don't know what will happen tomorrow.
I had to give myself that talk again today when I noticed self-blame sneaking into my head, and it worked. Now, I'm going to focus on how to stop these runaway migraines. And, I'm going to hope that it doesn't require extreme medical measures.
I don't know what will be involved but I do know that the part of the cure always involves our beautiful outdoor world, whether the doctors order it or not.
I live at 8200' in the Front Range of Colorado. I love exploring nature
in the mountains while riding my mountain bike and romping with my
Labradors. Photography is another passion, including both "normal" photography and trail camera photography of wildlife.