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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick and Treat

At sunrise this morning, I knew that Halloween was also the first day of our winter. The winds off the Divide were howling, like they do only in winter. Before a gust would hit, I could hear it coming, like a freight train rumbling through the forest. Then, I'd sway under the force of each gust. We sought refuge in the trees, hoping that none would be blown down.
Shyla was giving me the "you are being too serious" look. So, we lightened things up. I'd never ask Shyla to wear a costume, at least not yet, because I think it would scare her. But, wearing a hat is okay with her. An orange hat is perfect for Halloween!

She's doing her "trick" so she got a treat!
After that first trick-and-treat, she was determined to keep doing her trick, every time we stopped.
She was making me laugh with her insistence! Look at those eyes!
After our fun and games in the sunrise light, I pedaled up high while Shyla zig-zagged next to me. Oh my, it is HARD to pedal my snowbike. The huge tires make me tired!

When we arrived on Hug Hill, Shyla wanted more treats. So, I asked her to wear her hat and do her trick!
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A brief autumn sojourn

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weather synopsis: "Ice pellets"

Shyla and I went out into a world of freezing fog this morning ("pogonips"). Indeed, Weather Underground usually has a word to describe the forecast for the day at the bottom of the little picture for the day. Usually the word is "sunny", "partly cloudy", or "snow". Today, it was "ice pellets" for our area.

Those "ice pellets" had coated almost every surface with incredible ice sculptures. Those are aspen twigs behind Shyla.
The ice pellets were still hanging in the air so the world was spooky.
But, I do love how alien it looked!
Here's what it did to the remaining aspen leaves. Wow!
Unfortunately, my spine was killing me, making my mood dark. In these situations, I keep pedaling because it usually helps.

It didn't help my pain but I was distracted by the amazing beauty. I don't know why the fog caused ice spikes on most things, rather than just coating them.
Near the end of our ride, the sun started to peek through, burning off some of the fog.
Unlike the start of our ride, I could see more than 10 yards away, and it was beautiful!
I left Shyla at home and kept my hope alive that pedaling some more would ease the pain. I climbed upward through a pine forest toward a hilltop. Unbelievably, I could see that the sun was shining up above me!

While I was still in the forest, the ice on the pine boughs was illuminated by the indirect sunlight. My trail was a tunnel lined with frost like this.
As I approached the top of the climb and was just about to emerge into a meadowy area, I saw the frost melting off the treetops. Do you see the drops in the next photo?
When I emerged into the meadow, I realized that I'd popped out above the clouds. Wow!
Looking at this landscape, I cannot believe that I rode my bike while wearing only shorts and a sleeveless jersey just a couple of weeks ago. It looks like bona fide winter here!
Alas, it was only the highest points in my ride where the sun really shined. As I descended, I slowly reentered the clouds.

I love the mountains, even when the world is cold and damp. The world is sublimely beautiful and is rarely the same even from one minute to the next.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Duo's Bond

We are in the first day of three that are supposed to be just below freezing, gray, and foggy. Fortunately, we had wonderful weather over the weekend, and memories of the sunshine can help us through these yucky days.

I am now sitting by a warm fire after a trip to the physical therapist to have my neck worked on. My neck discs have been a serious problem for a few months with wrenching pain radiating down one arm but I'm still holding out hope that I can recover without surgery. My physical therapist is not as optimistic as usual but I am keeping my hope alive.

For the moment, I'm going to lose myself in a few fun photos from the weekend to help me forget about the aftermath pain from the work my PT did on me today.

I had the honor of hiking with both dogs at sunset a few times last week when the weather was perfect. It was warm and the forest was quiet. We enjoyed the solitude and peace of the mountains.

During Shyla's first months with us, I commented that she played very hard with R, so hard that he would shy away from her sometimes. Well, Shyla has dialed her intensity down and R has dialed his up. So, they are now perfect playmates. They wrestle for a long time every morning and evening, while we humans have our breakfast and dinner.

When they're off-leash outdoors together, they love racing each other. For some reason unknown to me, they both stick out their tongues as they start a sprint to me.
R uses his wily ways to win some of the races but Shyla wins some too.
After the sun dips below the mountains, the dogs like to scan for wildlife. Fortunately, they are both very good about not chasing whatever animals they spot.
It's been so wonderful to see their bond grow. Indeed, as I am writing this, they are play-growling at each other as they wrestle. When they get tired from wrestling, they often snuggle together on a dog bed. They seem to truly love each others' company.

Somehow, although it didn't seem possible when K died in July 2012, our family feels content again. K gazes down on us from the wall above "her" dog bed in the beautiful Kathleen Coy painting that many of you gave to us. I know that K helped raise R to be the dog that he is and that she helped shape us humans to be who we are today. So, K lives on in all of us, and I smile whenever I think of her.

And I always think of her when we sit out on our sunset rock watching Mother Nature's glory like we did last evening.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Black and White Sunday: Bear Butts and Canines

Mom, Does this tree make our butts look big?

Rare Silver morph of the Red Fox

My Girl

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Winter - It's almost here

In every season of life, there are good and not-so-good parts. I try to focus on the good rather than the bad, whenever I can. It's becoming winter here in the mountains of Colorado. Every morning, the air is very cold, often below 30 degrees when Shyla and I head out for our mountain bike ride. 

Before I had fusion surgery on my lower back, I used to look forward to winter because I adored skiing. After that surgery, I thought that I'd be able to go back to skiing but I discovered that I lacked the ability to twist my lower back that I needed to telemark ski. Moreover, my neck was deteriorating to the point that my docs worried about paralysis if I fell the wrong way. So, I stopped skiing - and my reason for looking forward to winter disappeared.

I had a few years when I really didn't look forward to winter *at all*. But, a few things have turned around my attitude. One thing I love about winter is the light. The sun rises late and stays low in the sky, creating wonderful warm light for photography. In fact, I love this light so much that I sometimes daydream about visiting Alaska in the winter, when the sun hovers close to the horizon for the entire brief day. That would be really fun for photography.

This was sweet Shyla at sunrise this morning, as I focused on what I love about winter. The red color of her fur comes from the special light of the rising sun. The sun had just crested our eastern ridge at this moment.
Shyla loves sunrise, because she loves the cold and the scents of the animals who have roamed the forest all night long. When her eyes are wide open like in the next photo, she is usually taking in the scent of some fascinating animal. I wish I knew which one!
Just after sunrise, I love going into the pine forest, where the soft sunlight filters through the trees, creating an almost spooky atmosphere. You can see the shadows of the pine trees all around Shyla in the next photo.
Shyla eagerly serves as my model - because she knows that, soon after the photos, I'll ride and she'll run, frolicking in the cold air.
So, for me, I need to focus on the good parts of a season to keep myself happy. In winter, there's the gorgeous light. And, I love my snowbike which makes it possible for me to pedal to my heart's content even when the white powdery stuff covers the forest floor. I will admit that I don't love wearing many layers of warm clothing and the nip to my fingers when I pull them out of my mittens - but that's part of the season.
Parts of Mother Nature are slowly going to sleep, like the aspen trees, flowers, and bears. However, a few brave bright leaves remain, mostly on rose bushes. I'll stop to appreciate every one until they're all gone for the season. Then, I'll start dreaming of the first wildflowers next spring.
I can feel winter taking hold, and I look forward to months of enjoying the amazing winter sunshine. I'm not thinking about those -25° days or the blizzards yet!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy Friday

The Duo and I want to wish you a peaceful end of the week. May the sun shine on your face.
 May the autumn leaves shine all around you.
 May you have a good friend (or sibling) by your side.
 And may the sunsets be beautiful.
Happy Friday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Leap Forward

As many of you know, my Shyla was very very fearful when she first arrived here. She didn't want to meet anyone. She'd shrink away, making it clear that she was terrified. If cojoled, she'd belly crawl toward the person who wanted to meet her.
Recently, something has changed for her - a switch in her brain has flipped, and she's leaped out of the darkness.
We see people on our trails occasionally - and more so recently than usual. Believe it or not, Shyla *wants* to meet them!
Yesterday, we met a friend for a hike. I gave my friend the "standard instructions", including not to look at Shyla or act interested in her until Shyla made the first move to make friends.

It was only about 30 seconds before Shyla was giving my friend kisses!
I am in awe of her sudden boldness. I think some combination of all the work we did with our trainer, the passage of time, and the growth of our bond has made the difference.
We haven't been to town in a while but we'll go soon. I'm very curious to see whether Shyla's new confidence shines through even in the midst of the bustle of town - a stressful place for any mountain dweller.
Regardless of how the next visit to town goes, I now know that the sky is the limit. I am beginning to believe that Shyla will someday be anything but "shy". In fact, her shy days might be nothing but a distant memory sometime in the future.
I must say thank you to all of you who told me to "be patient"over the past 14 months and told me inspiring stories of very fearful dogs who learned to navigate the world with ease. Each of those stories buoyed my spirits, and I am very grateful.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013