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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Powerless but still enjoying nature

Early this morning, K soaked up the sun's rays while patiently waiting for her sleepy and slothful human to head out into the world.
Once I got myself moving, I spent another peaceful morning in our mountains, pedaling through nature. For reasons that elude me, my body still refuses to respond when try to ride hard. When I press the accelerator, nothing happens. My legs don't hurt, and I don't get out of breath. I simply have no extra power. It started after S's death so I'm guessing that it's a case of a sad heart.

As we rolled off our property, K sprinted, nose to the ground, with fierce urgency. When I checked our wildlife camera, I discovered why. Our habitual visitor, Charles the coyote, spent more than a half hour hunting near our bird feeders at about 2 AM this morning. Here, it looks like we caught him howling! He's a gorgeous animal, and I'm happy to have him share our territory.
The start of my ride with K was sunny and warm - classic summertime riding. We rolled along and decided to explore a route that's caught my eye many times as a potential trail route. We started down a meadow toward a gulch (and, as usual, there was a faint trail) when K startled, as if someone was nearby. I've learned to heed K's warnings, since her senses of hearing and smell dwarf mine, so we returned to the main trail. I later figured out from tracks that a biking friend had swooped by on the trail while we explored. His passage was probably what startled K. While we were deep in a pine forest, the world metamorphosed from a sunny summer day to a dark chilly day. The mountains, which had been surrounded by clear blue sky minutes before, had clouds fighting to engulf them.And, a faraway mountain looked surreal, with a rosy hue imbued by the changing clouds and sun.Later in my ride, I spotted a spectacular blooming bush, the Western Chokecherry (Padus virginiana), with eye-catching racemes of tiny flowers.Each flower looks so delicate that it's mind-boggling to imagine them surviving a fierce mountain storm. A blossom has an intricate architecture that makes it almost impossible for a visiting bee or hummingbird to drink nectar without getting a dusting of pollen from the ring of pollen-exuding anthers, that look like small spheres on the ends of thin antennae, surrounding the center of the flower. Then, the visitor almost undoubtedly brushes pollen into the central pistil of that flower or another one. After pollination, the flowers become clusters of dark red cherries. Amazingly, every aspect of this plant, except the fruit flesh, is poisonous. Yet, animals rely on the fruit for calories.I didn't linger at the beautiful and sweet-smelling bush because thunder rumbled in the distance. I hurried home, outracing the storms, which haven't yet exploded with their fury.

A bit later, we noticed a baby red squirrel, less than half the size of an adult and looking fetal, hunkered down in the pine needles, alive but unmoving. He'd probably fallen out of his tree nest which we spotted in a nearby Lodgepole Pine. We kept our eye on him for a while, and then purposely stayed far away so that his mom could retrieve him, if possible. We saw her searching the area as we watched from a window. He indeed disappeared, and for the sake of my heart, I'm going to assume that he's safely back in his nest, curled up with his siblings, and suckling his mom's milk.
Life is precarious and precious. Sometimes we're powerless in the face of nature's whims but life is worth embracing anyway.


  1. That baby squirrel is darling. I'll choose to believe the happy version of the story too.

  2. You will just have to listen to your body right now and not push yourself. If you don't have the power right now there must be a reason, whatever it is. Just enjoy the rides through your beautiful country with K at your side. The photographs today were just beautiful.

    I do hope the little squirrel was rescued by his mother. Such a helpless little thing. Your last statement is so true and we would all do well to realize its truth.

  3. It will definitely take time to feel yourself again. Try not to push it. I sure hope you are right about the baby squirrel - so cute. I agree whole heartedly with your last statement (not just nature's whims but people's whims too).

  4. Hope the squirrel did make it (though the dogs consider squirrels their mortal enemies and must chase them at all cost).

  5. It looks to me like you and your husband have been grooming that coyote! He is definitely "show quality" ( I love the way the fur from his neck area breaks on his back.) Once again your pictures amaze me and remind me that slowing down enough to see what is around us is a good goal. Perhaps then I can start to enjoy what is around us!
    Years ago my brother (an Artist) when asked how he painted such cool things told me "you just draw/paint what you see" the trick is "seeing". Certainly seems like you have a knack for it.

    I noticed a baby chipmunk at our place the other day near one of the feeders....he was at least 2" long and completely owned the world!


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