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.