The waning of summer always casts a bittersweet sadness into my heart. For me, a year feels like it follows the pattern of a lifetime starting with the unbridled promise of late winter, the birth of spring, the crescendo of early summer, and the pinnacle of mid-summer. In my heart, the gradual dimming of life in late summer and fall represents the ending of life. I've tried for years to break this thought pattern but it persists anyway. One advantage to it, however, is that the feeling that each year is a mini-life motivates me to get out into the forest and enjoy each day I'm given.
Today, despite undeniable signs that I won't be able to stop the natural world's inexorable march toward winter hibernation, I felt happy. K sparkled with resurgent energy, and seeing her energy painted a goofy grin on my face. While K and I spent a short time on the trails together this morning, she exuberantly surged ahead of me to chase a squirrel and bluff chased a pair of antlered deer bucks. K's deer 'chases' last only a few steps because she knows, after approximately a million of these wildlife encounters, that returning to me will earn her huge rewards.
K led the way through an aspen grove whose leaves haven't yet relinquished the chlorophyll that keeps them green.We summited on our local peak, Hug Hill, and the skies over the mountains awed me again.K peeked out from behind a Douglas Fir Tree near the summit. She loves to try to hide from me so that I'll call her, "K come!", which earns her a jackpot. I had bland rewards with me today to keep her touchy tummy happy. However, I didn't participate in her hide-and-seek game. If I even slightly encourage this game, then she'll hide every few minutes while in the forest, driving me nuts with worry about whether she's really wandered off this time.We descended through glorious yellow aspens to finish our 20 minute excursion. K seemed very surprised that she wasn't going any further - but she needs to save her energy for healing.After I left K at home, I did a ride that included some exploring, trying to link together pieces of singletrack mountain bike trails that I've found deep in our forests. I climbed a steep and gravelly hill where I've seen a myriad of wildlife this year, including a deliciously long observation of a bear, but I didn't see anything but fresh tracks and scat. Bobcats, deer, coyotes, and bears had all traveled my trail, leaving footprints in the fresh mud, but stayed hidden as I passed. Coyote scat sat prominently in the middle of the trail, filled with mushrooms! I didn't know that other canines besides silly dogs eat mushrooms. I wonder how coyotes know which ones to eat or if they sometimes get poisoned.
Once I attained a plateau, my goal was to find a sweet singletrack trail down through the National Forest. I succeeded, and swooped down a tacky dirt trail through a meadow, then an aspen grove, and finally a pine forest. Near the bottom, the sweet smell of pine pitch permeated the air, and I wished that I could photograph a scent! Who knows, maybe someday that'll be possible. At the very bottom of my new trail, it met a small dirt road. I pedaled along with the sinking feeling that I was trespassing on a private road but I saw no signs. However, when I reached an intersection with a bigger dirt road, a "keep out" sign guarded the area I'd just ridden through. Bummer.
Our forest is a patchwork of public and private land with private land lining the roads, with only a few hidden gaps. The private land is a barrier that keeps everyone but landowners out of the public land behind it. It's frustrating when the National Forest sits just yards away but is legally inaccessible. My usual strategy is to meet a landowner and ask permission to cross their land. Nine out of ten times they'll say "yes" to a local resident. Maybe I can finagle such a meeting in the area where I was today.
I rode home with bluebird blue skies over my head, looming thunder clouds over the mountains, and changing leaves surrounding me.
The thunder columnus clouds reached high into the sky over the mountains but stayed stalled over the Divide, leaving me in my bluebird world.
One of my favorite flowers, a deep purple and yellow aster, still bloomed, and a fly busily pollinated it. If you click on the photo, you can see a close-up of the fly and the pollen.
I arrived home to a ringing phone - our vet checking up on K. We had a sensitive 'off the record' conversation, discussing my vet's experience with pet insurance companies who add a 'riders' to policies excluding future pancreatitis treatment after one bout due to the high cost of treating chronic patients. I had to choke back my dismay - that's why I bought pet health insurance - for expensive problems! I'm wondering if pet health insurance might end up mired down in similar problems as human health insurance. Ironically, it was my first 'off-the-record' conversation with a vet although my doctor and I have had those conversations for years to avoid insurance issues. Convergence or coincidence?