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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Seize the day

Reminders never hurt. I was slammed with a reminder yesterday not to waste any days of my life. I strive, every single day, to remember what I love to do and make some time for it. Yesterday, I learned of the death of a neighbor - a fellow mountain person - although one with dramatically different values from mine. Despite our differences, it served as a reminder to me to seize each day.

For me, being in nature with my dogs is something that wakes me up and makes me feel fully alive. Over the past two days, K and I have had adventures following animal tracks in our forests as the fury of winter has interrupted the brief sojourns of spring. R, although his injured toe is slowly healing, has been taking it easy and snoozing during our hikes.

Two days ago, K and I followed animal tracks down a gulch so choked with snow, fallen trees, and boulders that I thought that we might get stuck there forever. K seemed to say, "Are we really going down there?".
In the photo below, K tried to negotiate a fallen tree in the gulch but it's very hard to generate a powerful jump from bottomless snow. Eventually, I coaxed her around it.
We found mountain lion tracks, albeit only a few, as we explored. They were days old so the lion probably is long gone. However, I set up a camera on his route, next to one of his habitual scent posts, hoping to capture his image.

Also during yesterday's hike, we spotted our very first wildflower of the season, a candytuft (Noccaea montana). It's a tiny gem, with each flower spreading only 1 cm across. It poked up out of a small patch of bare dirt.
Since I saw that flower, the fury of mountain weather has descended upon us. About 10 minutes after the flower sighting, the wind drove snowflakes horizontally around us.
Then, another five minutes later, the sun shined again. K could see her shadow. I wonder what that means for when springtime will arrive in the Rockies?
Overnight and this morning, the snow became persistent, adding another 6" to our already admirable base. Fortunately, the base of several feet was frozen solid this morning, and K barely sunk into the snow as she romped across it.
Due to the rock solid snowpack today, we veered away from trails and hiked through deep forests, following animal tracks of unknown origin. It had snowed so recently that fresh fluffy powder filled the tracks - but it's always fun to let a wild animal determine our route. K found a rare sunny spot in the deep forest. It looked enchanted with the snow draping the pine boughs and the golden-hued sunshine.
K's fur glowed in the sunlight.
We emerged from the forest near a peak, and K led the way to the top. Storm clouds enveloped the mountains behind her.
After I arrived home from my hike, I decided that, despite the "mud-fest" conditions on our dirt road, I needed a hard ride to burn off the blues that had threatened to drag me down since learning of my neighbor's death. I think that other endurance junkies probably understand the cleansing effects of a tough aerobic effort. Of course, as I rolled out the driveway through viscous mud, a snow squall started. So, as I rode, I was doused in mud from below and pelted with snow from above. I smiled and pedaled harder. Truly experiencing nature's fury as I work my muscles to their maximum is one of the things that I love the most!

I also love our wildlife, and I'll get back to my bear footage tomorrow. Here's a sample of one of the photos to come. It shows that one yearling outweighs the other by a lot! I suspect that we have a male and female, which is great news because the female will probably settle down in our area after she leaves her mom this summer. By contrast, the male will travel endless miles searching for his own territory.


  1. I'm sorry for the feeling of loss -

    You are always one to inspire us in so many ways!

    Khyra says PLEASE SEND THE SNOW as we were mid/upper 80's again today!

    Thanks for sharing that great bear picture!

  2. Whenever I look at your pictures, I feel like I'm peeking into some enchanted forest. I never know what magical thing will emerge next! K looks as lovely as always.

    I'm sorry to hear about your neighbor.

  3. Oh those bears! I love seeing the bear pictures and this rough-housing one is very cool.

    We had a pretty sunny day today and we got ready for a short walk to the library. I slipped on a sweatshirt jacket and as we got down the street, I realized it was Furry Cold! A high wind was blowing and I wished I had a parka on. Gotta watch the weather better.

    Jo and Stella

  4. It is interesting how reminders are out there for us to "carpe diem." My neighbor, the guy who built my house, fell off a roof a little over a month ago, broke his back, and had emergency surgery. He is just now really getting mobile again, and it is slow recovery.

    On the flip side, we get to see how our community comes together. His horses are being fed, work continues on a house he was building, someone else has made sure our road has been cleared of snow (Richard usually did it). They never asked for help, but things just get done that Richard would have.

    TWo great lessons - help each other and seize the day.

  5. such beautiful images....and seizing the day...knowing what makes you happy and inspire me that way...such an important message! sad about your neighbor....but a death really does remind us how short life is and that it can come to an abrupt is for the living, enjoy every day!
    the bears are so beautiful, the images you've captured are incredible....
    i think K's shadow says that spring will come....sometime before next winter! i'm going to go back in your archives and see what the weather was like last year....sometimes hard to believe the snow will ever be gone! that's the beauty of the seasons...we really appreciate each and every one!
    peace to you today......

  6. We are thinking that your snow is so pretty but we are thinking that the snow we got last night and today is NOT so pretty☺

  7. Thank you for visiting our blog.
    Beautiful labs, beautiful scenery and bears!

  8. I love how you seize the day. K romping in the snow and with snowflakes on the face are just treasures! The bear photo is magnificent, too.

    I've been searching for pasqueflowers but have come up empty so far. It was good to see your little tiny blossoms!

  9. Had you not clarified, I would have thought that was a yearling and the mother. What a difference. I wonder if there are runts born under certain circumstances...

  10. I love K's jowls as she's jogging face first in one of the photos. flop flop flop!

    I'm so sorry for your loss. and yes, we try to seize each day as well. we try.

    man that boy cub is HUGE! i'd be running, not walking out of there.
    i'm going to send you a photo of a weird track i found on our walk. a few days ago, the dog's went crazy nose to the ground on NitWit trail (the trail on our own property). I looked closer and the tracks were round holes and loose dirt, which means "wild boar." It's the season for them to show up. But at the tree farm, we found a really interesting track that i could NOT identify. half the size of my foot and really pointy claws on it. i'll have to send it to you or post it on our blog, but i'm not sure i'll get that far.

  11. So sorry for the loss of your neighbor - life is too precious to waste time.

    Look at those cubs - what a difference in size!!! Glad you had such an exhilarating ride:)

    Woos- Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  12. Oh, KB - you're so lucky - a Candytuft! Your photo is wonderful - it took my breath away to see it. I'm so sorry about your neighbor. Keep seizing the day!

  13. Good advice for all of us. We also lost a neighbor very suddenly two weeks ago. She was the first to welcome us to the neighborhood. Another example that none of us knows what is in store and we'd better make the most of what we have.

  14. Thanks to all of you for your kind comments.

    Wild Dingo: I'd be glad to check out that track... but I must admit that I'm no expert on non-mountain tracks. But, I have about 8 books on tracks so I should be able to figure it out!

    Barb: I'm glad that the little Gem, candytuft, made you smile. It sure made me smile.

    Barb and Snowcatcher: The Pasqueflowers bloomed here on March 19 last year. In contrast, this year, I haven't found a single one yet. I have a special "pasqueflower" spring hike that I love because it hits all of their hot spots but those spots are still naked!

    Scout n'Freyja and Khyra: Sometimes snow that's far away from you looks prettier than snow in your own yard like Scout n'Freyja said. But, some crazies want more like Khyra. I guess that the weather is never quite right for any of us!!!

    kks: You were right. Spring seemed to be here today!

    Stella: It's true that the weather can be sneaky at this time of year. It can LOOK warm but BE very cold. I find that I'm frequently dressed all wrong in the springtime!

    NCMtnWoman: It's ironic - just like with the death in your neighborhood, the neighbor who I lost was the first to welcome us here more than a decade ago. We didn't turn out to be great friends but it was nice to have a welcome. And, we helped each other out in tough storms and other stressful times. My neighbor was an institution here... it will be very odd to go on without her.

  15. It sounds like you are getting back to your previous biking level and thoroughly enjoying yourself. So great to read!

    I'm jealous of your snow, mainly because it is so dry here. It worries me that the spring is starting out this way. It's bad enough that the summer always ends up being way too dry.

    Sorry about your neighbor. Sounds like you've found a good way to deal with your grief by honoring the life you have.


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