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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Howling winds and coyote dinner

Living in the mountains means that, on occasion, Chinook winds hit us with force of a freight train. Last night, they swept across our forest, felling numerous trees. At least one fell on a power line and another fell on a phone line. This morning, since cell phones don't work at our house, we were living the primitive life. When the familiar hum of the refrigerator shattered the silence this afternoon, I ran around filling water containers (we have a well pump that requires electricity), washing dishes, and taking a shower. The power is presently still on so I'm trying to dash off a quick post because the winds are still howling - which means that the power could desert us at any moment.

As the winds arrived yesterday evening, K and I headed out for a hike while the runners (including R) did whatever it is that runners do. What a gorgeous evening to be outside!
On the hillside above this meadow, K found a boulder to gracefully scale.
We fell into our easy-going partnership that emerges naturally when we're a twosome. She scaled another boulder and seemed to request a photo!
We wandered outside our trail network, searching for signs of wildlife. We discovered that parts of the forest that the animals seem to have evacuated in the past month due to treacherous spring snow are now, finally, melting out. We wound around the labyrinth of snowbanks and emerged in a small clearing. I immediately recognized that I'd stood in this exact spot at least once before - even though it was far from a trail. A logger with a sense of humor marked a stump with an X, probably many years ago. Perhaps he found the tranquil spot as peaceful as I did. K stood with her paws on the X.
Perhaps part of why that logger marked the spot was that it was the only viewpoint to the west on that hillside.
As K and I wandered home for dinner, a migrating bird serenaded us from the tip-top of a dead pine tree. His warbling song rose into the sky and was carried far and wide by the wind. It was a peaceful moment. K and I sat still to listen to his concert for a few precious moments.

At the end of the hike, I felt grateful. Although my lower back is still causing some pain and tingling in my leg and foot, it's waning, and I felt like I could walk almost normally. Thank goodness!!!!!

As we arrived home from our hike, unknown to us, a coyote trotted down our driveway carrying his dinner in his jaws. It must take great patience and cunning to catch a pine squirrel, as they are as quick as lightning and can climb trees. I always have mixed feelings when I see a scene like this one. I'm glad that the coyote had a proper dinner but I'm sad for the squirrel.
Recently, I found a squirrel skull on the forest floor. For scale, I balanced it on my elk skull for a photo. The elk skull dwarfs the squirrel skull but their basic shape and design is remarkably similar.
This morning, we awakened to a loud wind that drowned out all other sounds in the forest. K and I headed out for a mountain bike ride, enjoying the warm sunshine but battling the wind like a pair of warriors.
Whenever we stopped, K's ears flopped in the wind.
Despite the furious wind, the natural world seemed to stir under the long awaited warmth of the sun. Butterflies somehow flew INTO the wind, keeping pace with me on my bike. That was humbling.

Bumblebees woke up to drink from the Pasqueflowers.
A garter snake had slithered out of hibernation to bask in the sun on a 4wd road. I studied him, and he studied me, flicking his forked tongue to 'smell' what I was.
As I rode to the west, I was blown to a stop and decided to take a photo. It's rare that the wind literally stops me in my tracks.
Finally, I explored some trails that have been too snowy to ride so far this season. I discovered to my elation that they had melted out and the flowers had taken over. However, as I stopped to take this photo far from any road, I saw a power company 4 wheel drive truck attempting to negotiate a VERY rough power line. Oh my, I thought, it may be a loooong time before we have power.
As it turned out, those hardy workers fixed the grid sooner than I expected. Thank you!


  1. Oh wow - even in the still photos, I can feel the wind, see it in the trees. I can't imagine what it must be like up there, for we get wind storms off the Pacific and they are howling gales - ones I usually don't go out in if I don't need to. (And we often lose power too) - but mountain weather can surely be fierce. Just like you! So glad you could walk better with less pain. Just LOVED pix of K, ears flopping. Those flowers are stunning with the bee and the garter snake is very cool! Hate to see the coyote - dinner in maw, but know he has to eat. Thanks AGAIN for a super wonderful post!
    Hugs xo
    Sammie and Mom

  2. I'm glad you got your power back!
    That is some impressive wind! That snake sure caught me by surprise. He looks like he was glad for some sunlight!

  3. In my mind, I can see Khyra sitting out in it with her fur blowing all the way to the Atlantic !

    Thanks for sharing the great assortment of adventures and pics!

    Khyra gives our pal The Coyote a tail's up for the squirrel snack!

  4. Glad your power is back!!

    I must say, my personal favorite photo is the bee and flower. Gorgeous!

    We keep trying to catch the stupid squirrels that come into our yard, but so far, no luck.

    Holly and Khady

  5. I can feel the cool wind and dry air through your post. Care to share some of it with me? We've had nothing but humidity and thunder storms here. What I'd do for that cool mountain air!

    It sure is reasonable to feel sad for the squirrel, but, such is the circle of life.. coyotes need them to survive, and squirrels, in a morbid sense, need predators to keep their population in check. Not that you don't know that, but it's always worth being said again!

  6. such wonderful pictures! coyotes have to be quite crafty to catch such a succulent meal....i know what you mean about feeling sorry for the squirrel, but happy for the coyote! such is the way in the wild....
    hope you have some relief today...

  7. What great photos today, KB! We have no snakes at my altitude, though I have seen a garter on a trail near Frisco. I'm in Denver and we've been having wind, too.

  8. Hi there KB!
    I just loved your blogpost today! K's coat is so healthy-looking. The rattlesnake, the sculls, the's all just so beautiful! But I must say, the picture of the bumblebee had my heart lurching! It is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time! It really is did you get that photo? I have a similar photo of a little yellow spider on a daisy plant and I remember the state of 'awe' I was nudged into after I took, so beautiful!
    Please give those two sweet pooches of yours a special hug from me...I know how much you love them.
    Hope you are feeling much, much better!
    Sending lotsaluv to you


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