The beauty just outside my door astounds me.
The aspen trees are having an end-of-summer celebration that colors our world gold.
I'm soaking up days like today with warm sun filtering through a yellow canopy.
This morning, K and I rolled out together, thankful for another autumn day on the trails. Another bout of winter is due to roll over us tomorrow so I'm savoring these relaxed and warm days. The specter of winter hovered over the mountains in the form of a curtain of clouds. But, gold patches, aspen groves in full cry, adorned the distant forests on the mountain flanks.
K and I stopped at a unique viewpoint, atop a jumble of boulders. She posed her sleek body, with an impossibly narrow waist (for a Labrador), in a precarious spot.
Then, she squinted in the sun as she looked at me.
Shortly later, we started toward home, and a rainbow appeared over the Divide. Rainbows seem like Nature's magic trick, creating a kaleidoscope of color floating in mid-air. I imagine my departed dogs waiting for me at the other end of the rainbow.
After I dropped K off at home, I rode solo to a favorite ridge. Suddenly, as I cruised along, a fierce wind hit me from the side, almost blowing me off the trail. The chinook wind, still blowing now, will blow the mountain's veil over us by tomorrow.
No matter what view I gazed upon, the clouds loomed but the beauty overwhelmed me. The yellow leaves in the photo below hung on willow branches. The willows have joined the aspens in the end-of-summer celebration.
During a recent ride, I found an almost complete cow elk skeleton. The skull and jawbone lay scattered near the main part of the body. Most of the main bones are still articulated although predators have eaten every morsel of meat from the skeleton.
Because it's rare to find both the skull and mandible from one animal, I decided to bring them home so that I could study the details. On one ride, I carried the jawbone lashed outside my pack.On my next ride, I carried the skull home with me.
I put the two parts together on my deck.
Understandably, R freaked out when he saw the huge ferocious looking head on our deck. He first barked while backing away. After regrouping, he sneaked forward to sniff it before scurrying backward again. Finally, he decided that, although it was spooky, the skull wasn't going to hurt him. By contrast, the easily flustered K has become accustomed to weird objects, like skulls, suddenly appearing in her world. She ignored it.
I plan to look closely at the skull and jawbone details, using my mammal book as a guide. I may blog more about its design in coming days.
At the end of today's ride, with a skull lashed to my back, I noticed a harebell wildflower still blossoming despite the freezes and snowfall over recent weeks. These papery thin flowers prove, over and over, that they are among the toughest flowers in our forest. They fight their way through harsh conditions to keep shining until they finally get pollinated and can reproduce.
It's rare to get a wildflower photo with yellow aspens in the background but it's appropriate that it's a tough and beautiful harebell!Seeing the tenacity of nature leads me to ask questions about my own life. While a flower's life goal is obvious, a person's is not as obvious. What are we meant to do with our precious years on this Earth? Are we obligated to use the unique gifts that we're given or can we follow our whims toward happiness? For me, these are deeply personal questions, as I ponder my future. I've walked away from a calling that was based on a natural intellectual gift. Now, I'm searching for what's next. Immersed in the mountains, thoughts about the 'purpose of life' drift and curl through my mind triggered by nature's power, beauty, and tenacity.