Mountain vs. Wetlands

Life is a continual process of discovery.

For the past four years I have mostly been hiking in wetlands, the slough along the Rio Grande River. It’s nearby, and I have not been able to climb hills or go far until this summer. This whole time I felt like I was missing out on the good stuff. Now I’ve been up in the mountains, OK, only a few times, but I realize that the wetlands offer, in only a short walk, an incredible diversity of birdlife, plant life, and destinations along a trail. When I set out four years ago, venturing into that new-to-me landscape, I hoped to learn something about it, but I have learned a lot FROM it.

I’ve also learned I wasn’t missing anything. I still love hiking in the mountains, but the wetlands? It’s not a compromise, after all. It’s a world of wonder all its own and I am grateful. Bear, Teddy and I will be glad when the heat dissipates and my shoulder heals so we can all go back again.


After writing this, I decided to take Bear and return to the Rio Grande Wildlife Area which has been closed since March and reopened last Monday. It’s clouded up and I hoped for cool and wind, but we weren’t so lucky, but who really cares? Well, Bear, because I didn’t bring water but…

We had a wonderful buggy, soggy, happy, bird-song, flowers blooming, Monarch Butterfly on milkweed ramble in one of our favorite places. Red-wing blackbirds, a very rare flycatcher with a pretty song, an osprey, meadowlarks.

I first met Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog four years ago today. I thought we needed to do something special. ❤

Flowers, but I forgot what they’re called. This is their season. ❤

Now I must take the little guy for a walk.


It’s been about a month since I last posted and I am honestly glad to have stopped trying to write something interesting every day for my blog.

In the meantime I have finished a draft of the China book and sent it off to Beth Bruno my editor for a critique. The book is a collection of anecdotes and that turned out to be difficult to organize. I really need help with that and fresh eyes, as well, and all they may discover. Meantime I’m sorting photos and I think I have designed a cover.

Lois and her developmentally disabled son were here for the weekend and we went to the Sand Dunes — it was blustery and cold but very beautiful.

Reflection of Mt. Herard in Medano Creek — snow fell lightly while we were there

Otherwise life has gone on as always (and I’m grateful!) — walking the dogs etc. The Rio Grande is higher than I’ve ever seen it from a 160% snow pack — and it snowed again over this past weekend. Not here, much to my and Bear’s dismay, but in the mountains. A few ski areas are still open…

Rio Grande River covering two islands

The garden was getting going, but the cold spell killed a tomato and a basil plant and slowed down everything, still chard and salad are up as are cosmos. The iris are beautiful you see, not much to report after a month’s hiatus!

Sweet Dog Walk

It’s been almost three months since Dusty, Bear and I went out to the Wildlife Refuge. A combination of things has kept us doing other walks, most notably the possibility of encountering the Icky Man and then the first month and a half of hunting season. Since I’ve never seen the Icky Man in the place I was headed toward, I didn’t take weapons. We were rewarded with solitude, beauty, and silence. I was so happy to see “my” river again. 

I tried to walk fast, but failed, except in intervals. I guess we went just under 2 mph. I tried not stopping to look at stuff all the time, tried not allowing Bear to read messages or examine snow, but it was hopeless. 

First Night of the World

“No, please, no. No. Dammit. OK.” Augusta got up from her warm bed, pulled on warm clothes and opened her bedroom door to the small room that sufficed as everything — dog crate, living room, office, kitchen, dining room and hallway. “You poor baby. I dragged you all the way out here, the least I can do is take you out to pee.” The pale yellow creature lay at her feet, looking toward her with blind eyes. “Come on. No, don’t bite me. C’mon, Lily. You’ll get used to it,” she said, hooking the leash to the dog’s harness. Siberian huskies will run — even this old one would do her best — given half a chance. A simple collar was no insurance against that. After finding Lily with her head stuck under a chain link fence, trapped by the little hoop that held her tag, Augusta had found a different way to ID her dog, Twenty minutes later, Lily would have been dead. Augusta still shivered every time she thought of the goodness of fate, that she’d found her dog in time.

“You two can come too.” Dusty and Mindy got up from their comfortable sleep, instantly ready to go outside. Augusta worried about large animals — bears, particularly, having found bear scat on their trail — so she leashed Dusty and Mindy, too. Once they were out, in the dark night — or very early morning — Augusta realized she had forgotten her flashlight.

Nothing compared to this. No shimmer of dust or atmosphere came between her and the “glorious firmament.” Orion stood above her, only beginning his descent, pushed aside by Old Sol’s flaming shove. Silence. Complete silence. No trucks on the state highway, no coyotes, nothing. Like the first night of the world.

“Good girl,” she whispered to Lily then to Mindy. “Good girl.”

Augusta slowly became aware of a constant whooshing sound to her right. What? “The river,” she realized. “It’s the river. I haven’t heard it before. The traffic. I’m in the old days, now, before all this.” Augusta thought for a moment — how would it be if? She wanted to stay there, to imagine this, but the beauty was cold, as cold as her refrigerator. Colder. Her eyes were filled with tears, not from sorrow or from joy, simply from the cold. “C’mon you guys. I should’ve worn a hat.”

She took one last look at the sky and knew that she would always remember stepping out into the first night of the world. Silently she thanked Lily. “I wouldn’t have been out here if you hadn’t had to pee,” she thought, “you sweet wild thing.”