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Monday, November 1, 2010

Hopefulness

I believe that deer rut is underway. They are moving feverishly around the forest at all hours of the day and night.
Last night, I captured my first photos of a mixed sex group of deer, with a big buck in the middle. This remote trail camera is an infrared camera so it shoots color photos in the daytime and black/white at night.
The buck lingered behind the group of does, keeping an eye on his does.
Someone asked if deer scrape the ground. Indeed, bucks scrape the ground with their hooves during the rut and then urinate in the scraped area. According to my favorite tracking book, deer urine smells "piney, light, and somewhat pleasant" (Mammal Track and Sign, by Mark Elbroch). Maybe I'll sniff the next deer scrape that I find :)

I probably won't sniff bobcat scrapings. They're the most common type in our forest. A freshly scraped spot stood out in the middle of the trail this morning. In this case, the bobcat left scat in his scraping but often they leave only urine. You can also see that the bobcat has left scat at this post before from the white desiccated piece near the top of the photo.
I noticed the bobcat scrape while K and I did our morning stroll. She left a reply for the feisty cat. That was quite different from last night when she was terrified of a tiny house cat! K acted like the queen of the forest this morning.
K is really antsy to go on longer hikes in our forest. When I tell her that it's time to go home, she tries to woo me with her eyes. It is very hard to resist.
I often dilly dally to give her more time in the forest without hiking any further. This morning, I posed her with a beautiful shadow silhouette behind her.
As she stood with one paw and one cast propped on a tiny rock, I focused on the amazing engineering of her good paw. Dog paws are tough enough to endure running barefoot across rocky and rough terrain but also soft enough to give climbing traction. I hope that K's injured paw returns to this beautiful state! When the vet changed K's cast, I saw that her injured paw is shriveled and bony, having lost most of its muscle in the cast. I am so eager to start helping her rebuild her strength! My hopefulness abounds right now.
Indeed, both dogs are having left front paw problems. R has a big crack in one of his nails. To avoid infection, he must wear a boot when he goes outside. He seems to truly believe that he can't use that paw for the first minute of each outing!
But, as soon as the forest catches his attention, he forgets about the boot. Unfortunately, he doesn't forget about the shriveled brown mushrooms that STILL litter the forest floor so he dons a muzzle. This is the longest mushroom season that I can remember.
When I plan to take a photo, I take off the muzzle so we can see R's handsome face. In the photo below, he's scanning the terrain for rodents or rabbits. Sadly, from R's viewpoint, all of our common rodents have gone underground except the tree squirrels. Our lagomorphs, the mountain cottontail rabbits, also stay active all winter and continually torture R from outside our house windows.
This morning, after R and I had a short mountain bike ride together, I headed out on my own. Alas, I still don't have my usual energy back after my virus. Moreover, I was hurting because a rambunctious dog surprised me by leaping up and punching me in the shoulders with his front paws two days ago. I was standing just in front of a knee-high rock, and the dog launched me into a half back flip that landed me on my upper back and neck behind the rock. It was a vigorous test that proved that my neck is solidly fused 9 months post-surgery! However, my neck muscles are still screaming.

This morning I sluggishly rode past this view, which had a blaze of yellow leaves on the aspen grove just a week ago. The gorgeous snowy mountains have replaced the yellow leaves as the highlight.
And, this steep and rocky giant is holding its snow - a sure sign that winter is really almost here.
At the end of my ride, I passed a distinctive seed pod, the pod from a Showy Milkweed flower. It glittered and shined in the cold sunshine.
I love realizing that the plants are already preparing for next spring. I hope that those seeds are sown and grow into beautiful flowers! The hopefulness of the plants lifts my spirits every year as we head into the dark of winter.

22 comments:

  1. Trust me: I know all about the working us with THE EYES!

    Go K Go!

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  2. We had a lot of confusion here at the end of our day with the grandkids, and long story short, the pups missed their walk. It was dark before I knew it AND it was raining. Did I ever get some penetrating eyes!!!

    Sorry about the rambunctious pup - hope all is feeling better soon.

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  3. I can't wait for you to help K get back in shape either. So much meaning in a look.

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  4. Hope your feets are getting better K. Maybe you both need boots
    Snuggles,
    Benny & Lily

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  5. Oh no! Can't believe the toppling by the dog paw! So unfortunate. Hope you are ok.
    Both K & R look beautiful and so alive on their adventures with you. Will remember about R's paw and wearing the bootie to prevent infection. SR does a lot of grass skidding and I am always watching closely to see if she is hurting those long limbs of hers!
    Have a healthy week, and lots of fresh air :)

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

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  6. There's just something that's so magical about those milkpods! I love opening them up with the kids at school every year. It reminds me just how special they are!

    I'd cave for those eyes of K's every time! She might be too pretty for her own good!

    He caught it before it hit the ground?! That totally wins the story for the most love and devotion!

    And sadly, nobody wet their pants, but I think two of them were close!

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  7. Amazing pictures of the deer!

    Sorry to hear abour R's broken nail, I hope it heals fast.

    Beautiful picture of K, especially the one with his shadow on the rock.

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  8. Sorry to hear about R's nail! Glad it isn't sidelining him too much, though.

    I really love these new photos - you must have gotten a really nice camera! That one of K is just beautiful. My sister just got a Nikon d90 for her 16th birthday.

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  9. I agree the flowers and trees have many messages of hope. Cheers to hope!

    Your pal, Pip

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  10. K and R

    You sure know how to throw night time parties around your place. I can't even imagine the wonderful nose party you have the next morning. I'm not sure I could contain myself.

    Wow- mom's fusion is solid. Not sure the neurosurgeon recommends that test R...

    Love love love the views.. I can feel the crispness of the air.
    norwood
    ps- i wear boots in the winter due to iceball build up! I think only real dogs wear boots? right? But mom calls mine mittens. Now I'm confused.

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  11. We're sure sorry about R's nail problem. Those can be tough to deal with. Did he spilt it knocking KB head over teakettle? We hope he's trained to run to the nearest habitation for help like RinTinTin, in case KB goes down for the count. Can't imagine a cell phone works very reliably out in the mountains.

    Wishing K a successful rehab so she can once again scale the mountains [and agility equipment] with ease.

    Jed & Abby

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  12. Glad you can make light of the enthusiastic bouncing dog story !

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  13. Keep up the good work K! You will win her over yet ;)

    LOVE that pic of R flying down the trail. Hope the nail heals quick.

    We had been watching the live Ridgway cam (where we stayed when we were in Colorado) and saw the first snow last week. It didn't last long but it sure was pretty to see. A fellow FJ owner arrived on Ouray the day that it snowed and said that all trails over 10,000 feet were closed. I can't image what those trails look like in snow. Some were scary enough without snow :)

    Chasing my tale...
    Addie, Lucie and Hailey

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  14. I can't wait for K to get her cast off - and you are the perfect person to help her with her physical therapy once it comes off and she is ready to start rebuilding her strength!

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  15. I need to clarify for the sake of R's reputation - it was NOT R who jumped on me! Surprising, I know. Rather, it was a neighbor dog, and I didn't see him coming (otherwise, I might have braced myself well enough not to do a back flip)!

    Thanks for your comments!

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  16. For a minute there I thought this post was gonna be all about Cr*p! ;) (tee hee)

    i could NEVER resist those eyes. you are a strong woman!

    Personally, I love winter. NOt for the cold or the snow (cuz honestly, i don't like cold weather or snow) but for the break it gives us from running around most of the year and burning all our matches. I seemed to have done that much too often when i moved to mild CA and I don't think it's healthy. Winter gives us the downtime we need I think. I look forward to the rest! right? (after december, i'll grow anxious again for summer...)

    glad to see K up and about and Hanibal R on a run!

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  17. I was wondering how your neck was feeling, KB. Even without the fusion, I think mine would have been hurting! I LOVE the pics of R in his boot and running with the boot and muzzle! He looks like he was wearing some weird Halloween costume. K's eyes always melt my heart.

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  18. Been there, smelt that. Just today, actually. The deer scrape I mean, I didn't pick up on any scent in particular. I did find a buck rub nearby, and it was very fresh, ants were even eating the sap from the tree.

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  19. Jed and Abby, I don't think that I can count on either dog leaving me if I get hurt. I actually broke a rib in the woods a few years ago, and K stayed right next to me as I limped home. No Rin-Tin-Tin act for her. So, I bought a device called "Spot". It lets me use satellites to call for help if I'm hurt. I can either call search and rescue (Spot tell them my GPS coordinates) or if I'm not badly hurt, I can use Spot to contact my husband or friends. It's a great little device to have in a place where cell phones rarely work!

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  20. Thankyou for this beautiful, beautuiful post with all the splendor. The flower exploding was spectacular.
    And of cours the faces of the sweet K and R.
    We used to have a yellow lab that knew how to work the eyes.
    We have bucks fighting at night I think. I can hear them click, click, click their antlers.
    We are thankful that your back is ok,,,, we know it was a close call, but you are tuff.
    Thanks for the info on that tracking thing. I will have to look it up. We do not have cell service unless we go 7 miles towards a town, or unless, I climb a steep steep moutain.
    Thankyou again for sharing the splendor
    xoxo
    tweedles

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  21. Just wanted to say that it won't take long for K's paw to return to it's normal form! Kodiak has his paw in a splint/cast for 10 weeks and it was like his whole foot had shrunk. His pads were all soft and a different colour. It only took a few weeks for his paw to return to normal:)

    When does she get her cast off?

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