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Friday, June 5, 2009

A girl and her dogs in the mountains

Today, S's ashes come home. This stage always feels like a sucker punch. Each time I've lost a dog, I think that I'm starting to find the beginnings of peace and then I see the box. I'm dreading it. But, I'm working on remembering that S no longer resides in his body - he lives in our hearts. I remember him as a handsome, gentle, and happy yellow lab. He stopped traffic when he walked through town. Even in his elder years, everyone wanted to pet him. I think that they could sense his sweetness at first glance. I miss him so much that it aches deep in my chest.For me, the best way to avoid a quagmire of despondence is to keep doing the things that I love, even if I have to drag myself out the door resisting the magnetism of slothful brooding.

This morning, I did indeed ride my mountain bike with an upbeat and energetic K by my side. We climbed straight toward the sky, and as we emerged above the trees, we saw the breath-taking peaks, newly opened deep orange flowers to the left of the trail, and a male western Tanager - all at once. Wow!
The deep orange flowers are Western Wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum), an odd name for such a flamboyantly eye-catching flower. The Navajo pulverized the seed pods from this mustard species and inhaled the dust to clear nasal congestion. I think that I'll stick with looking at its beautiful flowers.When I spotted the Tanager, I dropped my bike to take a photo. It's blurry because I was breathing so hard from climbing the steep and technical hill just before spotting the stunning bird. They're the most colorful birds that breed in our forests.
A little later, K and I rolled along on a soft pine-needle cushioned path, catching rapid glimpses of the mountains.
We passed the edge of a lush meadow with aspen groves surrounding it. The trail was blocked by huge Ponderosa Pine that blew down last fall. She leaped over it to catch up with me. She started from a stand-still yet cleared it easily.
Finally, we reached a rocky prominence where I took K's photo. She looks happy!
I'd been relaxing, immersing myself in riding, K, and nature, until this point. But then (insert Jaws music), I spotted a likely mountain lion scat, primarily composed of fur and bone, that I'm absolutely certain wasn't on the trail yesterday. I spent the rest of my ride keeping K very close, and then, after I dropped her off at home, I nearly veered off the trail a few times as I tried to watch my back. I don't know why a single lion sign unnerved me so much today - I see signs fairly frequently. It must be my unsettled state of mind.

I arrived home in the sunshine, with the air warm enough for sitting on the deck. Yet again, my dogs made me laugh. For some reason, R loves to burrow under my deck chair for snoozing. What would I do without these clowns to keep me smiling?


  1. K does look so happy in the photo. And, whew! Look at those log jumping skills.

    Silly, R! What a doll sitting under your chair, like he's still a tiny boy.

    That's the beauty of having more than one dog, with ages spaced well, you always have someone at home to help you through the grief.

    Indeed, the ashes are always hard. We keep Cody's on a shelf behind my desk. It's part of my quasi-feng shui thing I have going. The direction behind me isn't a good one for me, so Cody is back there protecting me.

    Penelope's ashes, on the other hand, are on a book shelf in the kitchen because a) she loved food and b) it's the location of her greatest capers.

    Still holding all of you in our hearts.

  2. It warms my heart to see K looking happy, and for you to describe her mood as upbeat and energetic. I have been so afraid she might not be able to handle her grief as well as she seems to have done. That smiling photograph on the rocky prominence is beautiful.

    I'm so glad you had good weather this week. Sunshine is good therapy.

  3. I remember getting my horse's ashes back two weeks after he died. It was quite a blow, at first. He is, still to this day, the only "major" animal loss I've had in my life. It was tough, but I got through it. You will too.. just keep hangin' in there.

  4. And isn't that one of their primary responsibilities - to keep us smiling and laughing.

  5. They stay just long enough for us to get completely dependent on them, don't they? My heart goes out to you. I'm glad to see you have other clowns to keep you company. I found you nearby on Nature Blog Network, then found out you're nearby in CO. Love your photos & descriptions. Keep riding!

  6. Roxanne: I like your ideas for ash locations. Cody covering your back and Penelope in the kitchen. What creativity! I think that all Labs, as the ultimate eaters, would choose the kitchen.

    NCMtnWoman, Sam, ThunderingHerd, and Pricilla: I second your thoughts about the other clowns keeping us smiling and healing us. And thanks for your words of encouragement - they mean a lot. We're all helping each other through this time. It being gorgeous springtime helps too.

  7. Yes, what would we do without our silly clowns? They do make the hard times easier with their antics and cuddling.


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