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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Investing in the forest's future

The sunset glow on K's fur last night brought out its reddish chocolate highlights. She is so beautiful to me.
Then, this morning, K headed out onto our trails, fairly early, so I was surprised to be accosted by the local seven-pack of dogs at the start. After reaching truce with this bunch for the winter, they've been scaring K again. Recently, K snapped at one of the herding dogs who had just nipped her, and the whole pack went into high intensity fight-or-flight mode. It scared both of us more than I care to admit but a sharp yell and inserting myself between K and the pack stopped the fracas.

Since then, I've figured out a new strategy. I hop off my bike and set it up as a shield for K against the incoming dog missiles. It slows the dogs who are charging at us enough for their human to assert some authority and usually peace prevails. Moreover, by acting as her protector, I seem to calm K. Despite our so-far successful strategy, I'd prefer to avoid them altogether, however, so we'll start getting out even earlier. Funny, they're usually the only other people and animals that we see on the trails and usually within the first five minutes of our ride. Whew.

Today, after our canine interaction, K headed straight for the deep pine forest, where billows of green pollen exploded off pine boughs whenever we brushed against them. Yes, pine pollen season has just begun. That means that asthma season for me. K didn't mind - I caught her hurdling a small log across our trail.
After some hard riding through the air made thick with pollen, we took a break atop a boulder outcropping. What blue skies, absolutely endless in their depth and devoid of even a cloud wisp.
I carefully looked over the tiny flowers that are giving our forest floor a blue hue right now - low penstamons. I noticed the light fuzz on the step and outside of the flowers looking almost like sparkly dew.
While I was engrossed by these tiny gems, as always, K found a sentry post in the shade behind me and covered my back. I never trained her to guard me - it seemed to come naturally to her.
After I dropped K off at home, I took a sinuous path that passes a very old homestead. All that remains is the boulders that comprised the foundation. However, surrounding the crumbling foundation, the flowers that the inhabitants planted bloom every year. Just today, the lilac had started its song.
This sight felt ironic to me, as I stopped and enjoyed the fruits of the labor of people who are probably long gone. We recently planted 80 tiny seedlings on our land, about half Ponderosa Pines and half Lilacs. It's a labor of love, an investment in the future of our forest, knowing that these plants and trees may not reach their full glory in our lifetime. That's why I especially appreciated the 8' tall blooming lilac today.

Further along, I hit a wildlife corridor, much like Black Bear Trail. I'd love to put a camera there but it's too far from home. I saw many signs of bears foraging and scent marking, and I saw their favorite foods slowly growing and blossoming. Chokecherries always capture my fancy because their blossoms have such flashy stamens, reminding me of my departed yellow lab's long blond eyelashes.
The chokecherries bloomed close to the only waterfall anywhere on my riding routes. And, most years, it's a trickle. This year, I could hear it from 75 yards away as the rainwater of recent days tumbled down a ravine.
I think that we have a spectacular wildflower season ahead of us because of our multi-day rain storm. The Cordilleran flycatchers who nest under our deck hope that we have banner year of flies ahead of us.
Our nesting pair arrived from Mexico on May 30 and immediately started constructing a nest on the tray that I built them under our deck. In our first years in this house, they'd try to nest atop the deck's supporting posts, and they lost their nests to predators every year. Since starting to use the trays, they've had a 100% success rate. Just yesterday, the female began incubating her eggs - usually four. Her tail and head barely protruded above the sides of the tray. My fingers are crossed for our pair. Life is so precarious.


  1. Always such gorgeous pictures!! You are lucky to live in such a beautiful place!


  2. I had to go look up the Cordillian Flycatchers . . .lovely little birds!

    I want a new bird feeder. The squirrels take over the one I have and scare the birds away.

    Jo and Stella

  3. The flowers are beautiful, but K's beauty prevails!

  4. Those flowers are beautiful. One little nip and the whole bunch goes wild. Hmmm...we know you didn't cause the chaos..
    Benny & Lily

  5. K is beautiful to me too! you could never do a wordless wed...your writing is too beautiful...(it was a bit hard for me to say nothing, but sometimes i feel like i'm boring my readers...)
    gosh, the lilacs are long past bloom here!
    you and K have each others back!! a wonderful duo!

  6. I don't think there's anyone anywhere who couldn't see K's beauty! She's stunning, and more than that, very sweet as well. She has the most amazing eyes!

    Our lilacs bloomed in April. I only wish we still had some here! Those plants might surprise you. Ours grew much faster than I expected them to. They were tiny little shrubs when we planted them and now two of them tower over me.

    We have a pair of robins who return to a nest they built under our kitchen awning every Spring. It's fun to watch those babies, but they sure leave the nest fast!

  7. Wow! Those are some very beautiful pictures!


  8. You have a way of making the simplest of nature look so awesome. Good luck to the fly catchers for a successful nesting.

  9. We agree that K is very beautiful - especially in those sunlight shots.

  10. You are nicer than I am... I'd probably pepper spray the pack of 7. Just hate when people allow their dogs to do that.

  11. Such a bummer when you have to worry about running into that pack. I don't think I'd be very nice to their human, but it's not fun to cause riffs with a neighbor. Not a fun situation. Hope you and K are able to avoid them. It seems like you and K both have each others backs covered out there.

    Love the lilac homestead story...I wonder who might come along your plantings one day.

  12. I have found that those dogs are wimps and if humans show any aggression they will back off.

  13. This was so darned exciting! We put up a feeder and a birdhouse, and they birds are feeding, but no one trusts the birdhouse yet. So I'm so glad I'll get to see your little nest progress!

  14. I didn't see any white on K. Are you photoshoping it to hide her age? BOL I enjoyed getting caught up as always. Of all the things I read, one stuck to me: positive discipline. In my home too we used to use the "traditional" training techniques, but perhaps because two of us are small dogs and the large girl is very sensitive, I cannot imagine being trained without only positive reinforcement. All our training is positive and we love it.


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