As I drove home from physical therapy late yesterday evening, I pulled off the road to watch the sunset. I sat and thought about how lucky I am. My rehab will continue for several months but I don't mind because it's setting me free to do the things that I love.
This morning, as I had breakfast, K mournfully watched the runners in our family depart without her. For the past month, she's been joining them to get in shape for THE day when our trails and I would become ready for us girls to mountain bike together.
Little did K know - but today was the big day! She led us up our first little hill like a puppy.
We easily fell into our riding partnership, with her floating next to me, watching and frolicking as I pedaled. When a snowbank appeared ahead of us, she sprinted and dove into it. Then, she wiggled and wriggled on her back. Of course, her extrasensory perception told her that I was pulling out the camera and she jumped to her feet to look somewhat dignified, although she was still a little unsteady as you can see in the photo.
I pretended to put the camera away hoping to photograph the playful wriggling, and K ecstatically dove into the snow again. But, she has a keen eye for the camera and wouldn't let me catch her being so undignified!
We climbed up to a small hillock and K examined my bike while I paused for the view. I imagined her trying to figure out why the pattern of riding had been broken for so long and why it had suddenly returned.
As we soaked up the sun, a trilling sound zoomed toward us, rising in pitch as it approached. It passed overhead and then the trilling trailed off into the distance. It was a moment for rejoicing because our first male Broad-tailed Hummingbird had just zipped through our airspace. He was right on time compared to past years, despite the thousands of miles that he probably flew to get here. Those power-packed tiny gems never cease to amaze me!
Shortly later, we entered the sun dappled pine forest. K trilled with hummingbird-like energy. She flew toward me on a recall.
And, barely dodged the pine tree, ears flopping high in the air.
She was greeted with a huge hug. Riding my mountain bike with K ranks as one of my absolute favorite things in life.
Before heading home, we made one more stop at a mountain view. I discovered that, during our surgery-induced break from biking, K had become afraid of my bike when it loomed over her. She shied away from it while we rested. So, we played some "check out the bike" and "touch the bike" games. Eventually, she sat next to it for a photo. What an odd fear for K to have developed, especially since we've ridden together since her first birthday!
Just like the old days before my surgery, I dropped K at home (and quickly put out a hummingbird feeder), before heading out for a little more riding. The weather was the warmest of the year, with the air close to 60 deg F so I ventured out in shorts for the first time! However, as I rode to the east, I saw clouds oozing inexorably toward our higher elevation world.
And, when I looked to the west, thunderclouds had blossomed in the blink of an eye. I haven't seen cumulus clouds since last fall. This was, indeed, a day of firsts.
As I rode along the spine of a ridge, a neon pink and yellow object caught my eye on the south facing slope, so bright that I initially didn't recognize it. A ball cactus had bloomed, just in time for hummingbirds, assuming they're very careful as they extract the nectar.
These effervescent flowers are almost shocking in their brightness compared the the brown grass surrounding them. The cheery yellow stamens release pollen dust that coats the delicate petals near their bases.
One blossom had barely opened. The contrast between flower's delicacy and the prickly armor of the cactus always strikes me.
As I rode home, I attempted to take a trail down the north side of the same ridge harboring blooming cacti, and snowbanks topped with ice stopped me. In our mountainous world, spring and winter live literally side-by-side.
The clouds from the east caught me from behind before I arrived home, and the temperature plummeted by 15 degrees. Although I stood in the chilly shade, the mountains to my west still shined in the sun.
Luckily, I was wearing mittens despite the early morning warmth, and I was happy to have them as I rapidly chilled. Indeed, some friends had teased me earlier in the ride about the odd combination of shorts and mittens! However, I have severe Raynaud's syndrome so keeping my fingers warm is paramount to me. Without those mittens, my fingertips would have been sickly white with cold.
Tonight, I'm going to see a Mark Knopfler concert. As I rode, I thought about all that has happened since I purchased our concert tickets back in October. At that time, I had only a tiny inkling that my next spinal surgery had become urgent. So, I didn't expect that a difficult journey sat between me and the concert. Tonight will be a wonderful celebration as I listen to the guitarist who's been my favorite musician since I was a teenager. It feels as if his music has shepherded me through the peaks and valleys of life.