We had a wonderful, cool but sunny, hike with the Labraduo yesterday evening. They rambunctiously practiced recalls.
I love K's ear position in the next photo. I wish that there weren't a shadow on her face!
Yesterday, I mentioned R's "conversations with coyotes". In contrast, last night, R gave vociferous speeches to a bear. We were sitting on our deck, just after dark, watching a recording of the day's Tour de France stage (an infuriating stage...but that's another topic), when our dogs started ferociously "bear barking". We scanned the forest edge with our headlamps but saw nothing.
Later, just after I drifted to sleep, our dogs went certifiably nutso. They reserve this level of insanity for bears. We scanned again with headlamps and spotted a small black bear wrestling with our bearproof garbage can. With the spotlight on him, he started to roll the can into the forest to work on it without an audience. We shouted and clapped our hands, prompting him to flee. He didn't return again last night. The good news is that he didn't even come close to opening the can. I think that these bearproof cans are the real deal. The bad news is that he must be getting garbage someplace to trigger this behavior... Oh how I wish that people wouldn't set up bears to get killed.
This morning, K and I headed out into a misty world with a splattering of raindrops here and there. It was chilly - I wore mittens to protect against Raynaud's syndrome! That was very hard to believe after the scorching past 5 days or so.
As I checked my "bear-berry" remote wildlife camera, K charged a few steps into the forest while aggressively barking on two occasions. By her own choice, she guards me carefully while I check wildlife cams or take photos. There were no photos of wild animals stored on the memory card but, based on K's behavior, I think that a large animal was lurking nearby - I'm guessing either a bear or a mountain lion. The bear-berry cam is set up within about 100 yards of where the mountain lion cached his mule deer last January on an animal trail leading into an expansive berry patch. The next photo shows K on guard duty. She looks serious, doesn't she? Would you mess with her? As an aside, she once treed a mountain lion... so I put great trust in her.
I noticed a tiny pine forest gem, Prince's Pine (Chimaphila umbellata, Heath Family), which has finally burst into blossom. These tiny plants maintain green lance-like basal leaves all winter and bloom briefly in the dark pine forest in the summer. They're beautiful survivors!
When K and I emerged from the pine forest, the clouds that had enveloped us had begun to part, like curtains being opened to display the mountains.
I captured two photos of K while the mountains jutted up out of the clouds.
But then, the curtains began closing again.
K continued her upward health trajectory, carefully guarding me whenever I took photos or became distracted by nature, but then zooming around me while I rode. I love seeing my K feel better and better!
As I rode through the beauty of summer, I realized that I was obsessing over relatively trivial issues and not fully appreciating the world around me. I managed to drag my brain out of its rut and noticed a gorgeous juxtaposition - a columbine with buffalo berries emerging behind it. The part that I couldn't include in the photo was the best. The ground was covered in wild strawberries. I lay down my bike and sat by the trail eating strawberries while gazing at columbines. Once I quit obsessing over trivialities, I usually realize that life is good!