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Friday, September 16, 2011

Beauty shines through the clouds

Yesterday felt like the start of winter. Clouds swirled around us, reaching their long fingers into every valley and gulch. Their cold and damp air chilled me to the bone.
The temperature hovered around 40 degrees, which combined with the rain (no snow), made for very cold mountain biking.
Just as I started to think that I should go home and save my energy for a sunnier day, the clouds literally parted and I spotted blue sky behind them. It seemed like a message from the heavens to keep riding. After all, it will be snowy soon, and I should enjoy every fall day, even the cold and wet ones.
During the brief sunny period, I spotted some yellow aspen leaves. Rain droplets clung to them and sparkled in the sunshine. I felt warm enough to stop and take a photo. Yes, as always, it was worth braving the "bad" biking conditions - I was having fun. Perhaps there's really no such thing as a "bad mountain bike ride" for me.
Then, in the brief sunny phase, I spotted my third adult grouse of the day. All three had the same reaction to me - they fanned their tails and strutted around in front of me, clambering up onto boulders to be more visible. Yes, they mooned me.
The funniest part of seeing three adult grouse who didn't even try to hide from me is that I have met a number of unhappy grouse hunters in the forest over the past weeks. All have lamented that they haven't seen a single grouse yet this hunting season. After they expound on their bad luck, they seem to expect that I'll give them some hints since I live in the area. No way - my lips are sealed!

The wintery weather broke yesterday evening. K and I rolled out into a sunny and much warmer forest today. But, there was a surprise waiting for us. Can you spot the surprise in the photo below?
In the next photo, K stared at the surprise - fresh snow on the mountains! K kept her eye on the horizon as if she thought that winter was sneaking up behind her.
But, we were standing at least 1000' below the fresh snow. Indeed, flowers still bloomed next to K, and a beetle greedily drank nectar.
K was running like a young pup this morning, appearing to almost float across the ground as she galloped ahead of me. So, we took a long ride together. At a faraway lookout point that we rarely visit these days, you can see that the clouds had started to gather over the Divide behind K. Moreover, the fresh snow hadn't yet melted. K and I hope to take at least one more high altitude hike this season - to celebrate her 8th birthday. Last year, she celebrated by having surgery on her birthday. We hope to have much more fun this year!
As an aside, having surgery on our birthdays seems to be a family tradition. I had spine surgery on my birthday about 5 years ago. R had elbow dysplasia surgery on his first birthday, and K had paw surgery on her 7th birthday. It seems like a tradition that we should end, right now.

We rolled home, tired and content. As we walked up to the house, I noticed that yet another Columbine flower had burst into bloom last night. Nope, winter hasn't taken over our world yet.


  1. What a great shot of the grouse! Lucky you, and lucky grouse.

    It's wonderful to see K being herself again. And kudos to you for finding such joy and beauty on an otherwise dreary day.

  2. Hi Y'all,

    We jumped some pheasant on a hike last week, but I was too slow with the camera. What a wonderful shot of the grouse!

    My grandmother always said "things come in threes" by my count you should be able to break that "family tradition".

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  3. That is hilarious about the grouse!! Animals are smarter than people think.

    Love the spider web! Spiders are a favorite of mine. :)

    Isn't it always just when you think the day is going to be full of doom and gloom the sun breaks out??

    I agree with Hawk, 3 for 3, that's good for now. :)

  4. Did you know they are having a big fire up in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the North of our State? I think I read they are seeing heavy smoke and charred areas about 20 miles southeast of Ely, MN yesterday. A bad thing!

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  5. I always envy your Columbine, but you can keep the snow! We had more than our fair share last year.

    I think I'd definitely want to break that birthday tradition, particularly if I were The Runner, since it sounds like he hasn't had a turn yet! :P

    That grouse seems awfully proud and sure of himself! After you've kept his secret, well, as George the Lad would say "The cheek of it!"

  6. That grouse is something else
    Benny & Lily

  7. The snow on those mountains are teasing you and showing you just a glimpse of what mother nature will share with you. It is hard to believe that the season of snow and cold and chill is near.
    The photos are so gorgeous...
    the droplets on the leaf,, so amazing

  8. Beautiful images and thoughts of the change of seasons, and the positive thoughts for a healthy happy year ahead!!

    I do hope the Bobcat kitten finds its way...

  9. Not quite ready for snow here on our mini-mountains!

    Amazing, amazing shots.

  10. The spider web and grouse shots are great.

  11. You've had a summer full of Columbines. They're so lovely. I bet it does your heart good to see K frolic like a pup! I know it puts a smile on my face. She has been through so much.


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