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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

K's energy waxes and summer wanes

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?


  1. Seeing K hiding cracked me up. I'm glad, though, that playing peek-a-boo is something Lilly hasn't figured out ... yet.

    I'll sure keep my fingers crossed on the insurance thing. I think with ours there needs to be X amount of time between certain kinds of expensive things before it's covered again ... because there is a question on our forms that asks, "Has the pet been treated before for this same condition? If so, when?"

    From all the years watching the pet insurance industry, the best analogy is that it's more like car insurance than human health insurance.

  2. We are smiling here!

    The peek-a-boo shot was too khute!

    We are also smiling fur we thought K knew her limitations fur getting better! Just the proper balance of rest and romp!

    As fur insurance - yet another damned if woo do damned if woo don't and all points in between!

    Tank woo fur sharing those pawesome shots ESPECIALLY the bee on the aster!


  3. it is interesting how you feel about summer to winter....i feel renewed energy and always look forward to winter, i've always loved the change of season, fall being my favorite....
    K sounds like she is holding her own, interesting about the insurance...i don't know anything about pet insurance...but sounds like anytime you need it there are too many restrictions...arg!
    love the picture of K behind the tree and your description of the smell....i could totally imagine it!
    hopefully K will be able to go on her birthday trek!

  4. I used to share you feelings about approaching winter. Now, with milder and much more sunny NC winters, the short days don't seem so bad.

    We looked extensively at pet insurance and decided against it. We have never regretted the decision. When we reviewed our medical costs, including an ACL repair and a lengthy hospital stay for cellulitis, we still paid less than we would have in premiums over the years. I knew they would underwrite pre-existing conditions, but I had no idea they could rider a condition that developed while the policy was in effect. Bummer.

    I do love the view from Hug Hill. Such a lovely cloud formation.

  5. So glad to see K continuing to rebound. Loved the pictures.

    We actually look forward to winter. I am decidedly not a warm weather fan and find nothing more invigorating than the cold winds, and snow, and sleet. But I guess that is why I like the nordic breeds so much,

  6. The fly/flower shot is outstanding. I can't remember if you've mentioned it before- what camera do you ride with? I'm also always curious how other mtn bikers carry their cameras- holster? pocket? Thx.

  7. I'm glad that K continues to improve! The shorter days are a bit of a downer for me, but oddly I think fall is my favorite season - even though winter is definitely my least favorite!

  8. Such beautiful pictures! I hope one day you can photograph a scent...who knows it might just happen! About the pet insurance, you should really talk to your provider to make sure they cover it. If not, switch!

  9. Thanks to everyone for your comments and your encouragement about K's recovery. I'm glad that people laughed over K's peekaboo game!

    My vet says that she's seen the 'riders' added to policies by every company. It's becoming the industry standard. I'm going to see how this whole affair plays out to decide whether to keep insurance.

    Watcher: You asked about my camera. It's an Olympus 1030SW. It's waterproof (can be used under water) and impact-proof. I've really tested the impact-proof claim, and it's true! I love the super macro feature (which I used for the fly shot). The one drawback is that I'd like better zoom so that I could get good photos of distant perched birds etc.

    When I wear a jacket, I carry it in the chest pocket, sans case (being waterproof, it's impervious to sweat). When I don't wear a jacket, I carry it in a small camera pouch clipped on the hip belt of my hydration pack. The pouch has been a problem because I keep breaking the zipper with my rapid and violent yanks on it to get my camera out in time to get a quick photo of a bear or other animal. I need to find a case that uses only velcro to close.

  10. Thanks, that looks like a great camera- especially the impact-proof part! I can’t quite tell the dimensions of yours, but I’ve found a great case for my camera, a Canon SD780IS, which measures 3.25” x 2” x 0.5”. It’s actually a smartphone case, the foneGEAR canvas foneCASE. (Link, photo here.) Velcro cover, but a wide flap that won’t come off accidentally. My camera fits in snugly, requiring a light tug to come out. On the back is a clip that holds on just fine to a hydration pack shoulderstrap. I also wrap a piece of electrical tape around the open end of the clip for peace of mind.

  11. Watcher: Thanks! I think that my camera is a little too big for the exact same case as you're using but I'm going to follow up on the idea.


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