Sunday Services for a Panentheist

Bear and I had a walk like we haven’t had in a while. There was so much to smell. The trail was a mess — snow, packed snow, ice, bare gravel, mud, whatever. We don’t care. I only wanted to go as far along the river and into the slough as I knew I wouldn’t be entering the great cattle litter box that is the Rio Grande Wildlife Area at the moment.

The views were amazing — I took pictures but…

It was truly the first magical hike since I hurt my foot in September. Bear felt it, too, which is the great thing about dogs and Bear in particular. She is capable of entering into my experience which is, I guess, an attribute of the livestock guardian dogs. They are bred to be “tuned in.”

The Rio Grande is still mostly frozen, but a channel in the middle is flowing and breaking up the ice. That was very cool to hear. The sound made me think of Into the Wild. I thought of Chris McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp) and came up with the McCandless Rule of Survival: park your bus on the side of the river from which you came and where you remember there having been a store and a gas station.

A magic hike is my version of a religious experience. Lots of things can interfere with that — lately it’s been apprehension over the foot. Now I know the limitations of that foot and also that I can ignore most of the twinges.

THE moment came when I heard a few geese take flight over the river in a spot where the bank was too high for me to see them. I thought of climbing up the hill then thought, “No, this is perfect, this is ideal. They don’t need me to see them. And, for me, hearing them is enough.” So bear and I watched the bank where we couldn’t see the geese. We tracked their flight — there might have been anywhere from 2 to 4 geese — through their calls and it was lovely. Then the little prayer wafted into my heart directly through my eyes as it does. “I love you so much,” I said, softly to the world, to the light, to the trees, the uneven snow, the geese, the moment, the pure blue sky, the moment. Bear leaned against me, wrapping herself so I am standing in a shallow curve made by her body.

“Thank you for bringing me to this river,” I said softly to the sky. “Thank you for understanding my fucked up knees, and thank you for showing me this world which has been completely new to me.” Bear continued leaning and I pet her ears. “Thank you for bringing me this dog who doesn’t need to hurry and who is such amazing company.” I also thank whatever it is for all the huskies and all the trails we ran. I am again in the timeless embrace of “god.” It’s been a while.

I don’t know how to explain it, but in the gesture of loving me Bear shares my love for everything. I am 100% sure she — as much as a dog needs to pray — prays my prayer with me. We do love it so much.

All the human BS of the last few days retreated into the vast chasm in which it belongs. I have returned to the timeless transience of light, land, water, rock and beast. Thank whatever. ❤

Canine Crisis and Foot Injury Update

Today I took both dogs on a fool’s errand. Teddy hasn’t been on a walk in two months; Bear got a little something Wednesday. I didn’t want to take them both, but they were so EXCITED this afternoon. I think Bear told Teddy, “She took me. I’m sure she’ll take us both next time.” When I brought Bear home Wednesday, it was clear she’d missed Teddy. I felt kind of bad.

So, today, hoping to find a solitary trail somewhere, I put both dogs in Bella. I thought first of the golf course. Because I still can’t walk far, Wednesday I drove to the club house (yeah, I know it’s a block and a half away) from which Bear and I could go straight out to the good stuff, the Big Empty beyond the driving range.

If you’re not familiar with this blog, you might have a different picture of my golf course than the reality. One of the rules of the course is “Don’t let your livestock loose on the greens.” It opens onto a small slough and miles of fields and emptiness, cattle, foxes, deer, elk, moose and an elusive (thank goodness) black bear (who’s brown…) Bobcats and mountain lions also appear from time to time on the cameras people have in their back yards that face the golf course. Late fall is the transition time when the animals and I reclaim the golf course, though, in fact, the golfers don’t mind me at all. We’ve been sharing those acres for five years now. I just make it my rule not to take my dogs if it will interfere with their fun. They’ve been known to let us “play through” so to speak, on our way out to the fields.

But, I could see there were several guys playing golf today (58 F/13 C). No one cares about winter grass and autumn leaves. They’ll play in an inch or two of snow (I love them for that). I drove out of town to the wildlife areas and found fishermen and hunters at Shriver/Wright. It’s hunting season. Bear will wear her hunting vest out there anyway. A dad and his son waved and said “Hi!’ to me. I’ve really missed the little neighborhood of people who hang around out there. Across the street, there were cattle all over Rio Grande Wildlife area which meant Teddy (Australian Shepherd) was NOT going there. Bear is calm and we walk past the herds in vigilant tranquility. The Park and Rec guys put electric fences where they DON’T want the cattle to be, so people have the trails, for the most part. But Teddy has a very powerful herding instinct, so all that remained was the lake and YAY! NO ONE WAS THERE!!! I parked where I would get a mile RT. That’s my walking limit right now.

Cattle trimming the grass in the Rio Grande Wildlife Area. Sandhill cranes calling out from the sky. BEAUTIFUL afternoon.

We walked, slowly, and I used my cane. Teddy was attached to the waist belt by his bungee leash. Bear was on her usual leash and head harness. All went well until, as we were returning to Bella (my Jeep), a lady with a little terrier approached from the rear. Teddy barked at the terrier, the terrier barked back. All hell broke loose. I tried to hold onto Bear but she’s 75 pounds of livestock guardian dog, and I ended up being pulled down and dragged across the dirt road until I let go. Bear, of course, went for the terrier who was barking menacingly (naturally). For Bear, it was only three long steps. She didn’t even hurry. The owner was yelling “No! No!” terrified for her dog whom, it looked like, Bear was trying to kill. I was glad Teddy was fastened to me. I apologized and apologized from my position on the ground and wondered how I could get up.

But I did.

When Bear was finished disciplining the terrier, she wanted to meet the lady and be nice to the dog (who was in the lady’s arms). There were no injuries, of course. But the lady wasn’t having it (nor would I). Bear just stood calmly, smelling the ground by the lake, and, to my immense relief, she waited for me to come and get her. I was — and am — so sorry. I’m sure the lady was terrified.

I need a sign on Bear that says, “If your dog barks, Bear will attack your dog.” I just try to avoid people. I don’t think Bear would hurt any dog unless the dog hurt me (or her), but I can’t say that to anyone because I don’t really know. I certainly can’t answer for anyone else’s dog. The times Bear was attacked really changed her attitude about dogs when she’s leashed and with me. 

Finally the lady said, “I’ll go the other way.” I would have, but it would have meant another mile around the lake on uneven ground. I would never have made it.

BUT the foot wasn’t re-injured, though it is a little more sore than it has been, and all seems to be well.

I just have two dogs who are instinct driven. When Teddy caught sight (or whiff?) of the cattle, he was all about it, standing on two legs to see them over the weeds and the irrigation canal. Then a car went by way too fast and Teddy was ready to chase it. No one ever said an Australian shepherd, like Teddy, is an easy dog to live with especially in the first two years of their lives.

Teddy sees cattle…

Bear is a livestock guardian dog. Normally, they’re not house dogs or pets at all. They’re out there in the back of beyond working in complete independence caring for numerous goats or sheep, sometimes cattle, as have their forefathers and mothers for millennia. She might sit, stay, down, come under normal circumstances, but not when she believes she’s working.

How could this angelic beast do ANYTHING wrong???

So, will have to walk them one at a time for a while unless we’re alone at the golf course, I guess. I was stupid to take them both out.

What a Walk Means to a Dog

My injured foot has slowly been getting better. I have not, cannot and will not stay off of it completely nor will I see a doctor. I don’t know why. I guess I’m just sick of shit going wrong. Dr. Google (and previous experience) tell me that there no “cure” other than time, RICE and supportive shoes. It’s OK. It has three months + to get back to normal. I’ve been walking the dogs less frequently and less far and choosing trails carefully. Sidewalks are the most painful places, so I’m not walking around the hood. The golf course would be best, but guys are still playing golf. That leaves the wildlife areas, but Shriver/Wright is better than the Rio Grande Wildlife area because the trail is softer and there are far fewer rocks..

The poor dogs had gone without a walk for three days, so once I had done a ton of chores, I leashed Bear and Teddy, and we went out there. We were relegated to the Rio Grande Wildlife Area by dog owners parked at Shriver/Wright.

My foot is still hurt and walking on that rocky trail was difficult, requiring that I pay good attention to where I placed my foot. Teddy was a pain in the ass, continually walking behind me and nearly tripping me. I lost it and started giving him the what for — I never do that, but there I was. Pain makes people not themselves, and I definitely had a hurt foot. But afterwards, I was really sorry and embarrassed. We turned around at 1/2 mile and within 10 steps I’d re-injured my foot. “Karma,” I thought.

“I’m sorry Teddy.”

Teddy didn’t care and he’d stopped walking behind me.

I thought about what I’d read about Australian shepherds, “These dogs are tough. Think about it. They get kicked in the face by cattle.” I felt a little better.

We walked. Slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly. The dogs were good, and I was philosophical — the best I was going to get and it was pretty OK.

Back at home, my dogs — who have been a little insecure and, in Teddy’s case, aloof, since the two nights at the kennel — were back to their old affectionate selves and I thought about that. When I walk my dogs, that’s when the real bonding occurs between all of us. It’s not the food bowl. It’s not being petted, trained, given cookies or played with. It’s the hunt. This is the actual reason I have had so many dogs and love them so much. The hunt is the biggest thing in my life, too, the best part of any given day and the redemption of many a bad day. When my mom accused me of having dogs as “child surrogates” I said, “No. We’re friends. They like to do what I like to do.”

All of us basically hang around all day waiting for the moment when we can go hunting. My new plan is to take a couple days off and then walk them each on alternating days and take my cane. 🙂

Just Another Dog Walk

I think Faith, the late-blooming Australian pumpkin, is going into autumn with the best possible attitude. She isn’t paying any attention. Her growth outward might have slowed a bit, but she’s busy building actual pumpkins now, not just solar collectors. As of now, she has four pumpkins and a few little girls hoping to be fertilized. I won’t be helping her out anymore. I know what’s ahead and I think she’s going to need all her energy for the pumpkins that are already growing. Nonetheless, hopeful bachelors continue reaching for the sky and opening their golden blossoms to the bees.


Since I’m in one of those “What’s going on?” life moments, I’m scrutinizing everything and every moment for clues. Yesterday in the late afternoon Bear, Teddy and I headed out to the Wildlife Area for a walk. When we arrived, there was a man, a car and a dog. I recognize the dog. He lives two doors down and has for the past three or four years. I’ve wanted to meet him, but never could because, out on walks with Dusty, it was just too difficult.

I sat in Bella for a few minutes pondering what to do. Finally I jumped out and went over to ask the man if I could meet his dog.

“This is Roscoe,” said the man, introducing himself. But, of course, I forgot his name instantly. “You’re my neighbor, right? Two doors down?” Then, as is normal for this place, I learned his life story. Roscoe came from a shelter, already 4 years old. “That was four years ago,” said the man, “so he’s getting up there.” I think an 8 year old dog is in its prime, but that’s OK. “My wife brought him home, and she died a few months later. Then, last year, I had a stroke. I’m starting to do OK now, but I just want to be alone.” I said I understood that. I told him how when I retired from teaching and moved back here, I didn’t talk to anyone for five months. “Those big life changes,” he said, a comment that somehow made perfect sense. We made a few more remarks that were definitely deep clichés about being older, how when we were young we wanted to change the world and didn’t understand that the world would change us, first.

I wanted to get on the trail because the dogs were closed in my car. “Hey, Bear isn’t really dog friendly, so I…”

“Your black dog?”

“No, he died this year. My white dog, the livestock guardian dog. I have her and an Aussie puppy. He’s a year old. Bear was attacked by a dog on one of our walks and it changed her.”

“You know those apartments that look like motels? That little pit bull has attacked Roscoe twice. He bit me, too. And you know what? The people call the cops on ME.”

I shrugged. I never go that way because of that. I didn’t even utter the appropriate and expected remark. I just said, “I know. I’m sorry about Bear. She used to love every dog and every person, but she feels she has to protect me and…”

“Go get your dogs. I’ll leash Roscoe.”

“Great. Thank you. Which way are you going to go?”

“Tell me which way you’re going and I’ll go the other way.” The wildlife area is immense so we could still both have good walks.

I got the dogs and we hit the trail. It was a windy, crystalline early fall day in the wetlands. The light was incredible. It looked like we were going to go all the way to the river, maybe do the loop, when I stepped wrong on uneven ground and felt my foot go, “HFS!!!!” and that was that. It hurt like the furies of hell had pounded hot nails into the outer edge. I had to turn around. I had nearly a mile to walk to the car.

Bear got it that we were going to go very, very slowly. She immediately slowed down and began paying rapt attention to me. It was like the old days when my hip hurt so badly that a mile walk took at least an hour. This was the pace at which she’d learned to walk with me. Teddy, though. Oh the smells that this lingering pace brought to his canine radar — including a skunk who was most probably in the reeds beside the trail. “I don’t think so, Teddy. That’s not an experience you want to have.” I remembered when Lily and Dusty got skunked in my yard in California and all that followed from THAT.

“I love this, Martha!”

On we went at the pace I could manage, being careful not to bend my foot.
I remembered all I learned about looking at the world while in pain and going slowly. I saw so much more. I quickly returned to the discipline I’d learned during the year or more of my bad hip, and took in the analgesic beauty of the light on the blue water of the slough and the gold of the changing cattails.

My foot hurts today, but it’s not broken, not very swollen, and it’s wrapped and I am icing it. I still don’t know what’s going on but looking at life, it seems like a lot of the time I haven’t known what’s going on. So what else is new, right?

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/21/rdp-saturday-autumn/

Beautiful Walk to the Rio Grande

A sweet cloudy day with a breeze, what to do, what to do. Hmmm. I look at my roommates who just got their Barkbox and are very distracted. “What do you think, guys?”

Suddenly I had two very alert dogs. Within the next 15 minutes we were at the Rio Grande Wildlife Area on a trail that has — for me — been mostly a late fall/early winter walk. Hunting season for waterfowl starts in three weeks and the first month of that pretty much precludes me rambling around out there. Usually by December the birds have flown (except raptors!) and it’s one of my favorite winter walks.

To my North is the wildlife area — a slough that comes off the Rio Grande, a waterfowl paradise. To the South is a fence along a pasture about 1/2 mile from the river most of the way. The trail intersects the Rio Grande after about a mile and it’s a beautiful spot. I did a watercolor of it last winter:

Rio Grande, partially frozen, January 2019

We walked there today. Part of the trail was not well-mown and the grass was almost to my knees. Teddy was fascinated by the nether-areas of bushes lining the trail. I tried to suppress my rattlesnake paranoia, but then I thought, “Why? It’s not completely stupid to keep an eye on the trail.”

It’s not stupid. In fact, it’s a good idea.

What a great walk. I was very happy to see “my” river from my favorite spot, while the trees, grass, bushes, reeds are still mostly green with summer and, especially, on this, the anniversary of leaving my beloved stone house in Descanso, California and beginning the trek home. I had the sense as I wandered this now familiar and yet new landscape that I am now fully home and this is my world. ❤

Rambling Post about Something, maybe Mindfulness?

We humans make a lot of choices — and pursue hobbies, interests — that, by their nature, silence the jumble in our minds. I’m not a climber but I’ve known enough climbers and done enough boldering (sometimes a little more) to understand how climbing pretty much eliminates anything from your thoughts except getting up safely and back down again (safely).

What I loved about hiking in the days when I could hike for hours and hours was that after a while something happened in my head and there was nothing left in there but the trail, whatever was happening in the natural world in those moments and my dogs. A lifetime of hiking habits has trained my mind so that even though now I don’t hike 12 miles a day, I can get into the “zone” pretty quickly, even riding the sainted “bike-to-nowhere.”

Several years ago, back in California when I had a shed that was a little art studio, I discovered that painting was the same thing. Out there — away from my house (only 10 feet or so) and focused on a canvas, panel or paper — all that mattered was the work I was doing and where it was taking me. Writing a good story can be the same.

It’s such a relief from all the stuff that clutters the inside of my head.

Yesterday — a cool, cloudy day, presaging fall — we headed out for a walk. I decided to take the trail along the Rio Grande. It was the first time this year because the pathway in was very overgrown in tall grass and weeds. I noticed yesterday that a few people have trodden down the plant life a little bit, so I parked, took out the dogs and made them walk behind me, single file — a new “trick” for Teddy.

I love the Rio Grande, and it’s fascinating to watch throughout the year. I have never lived beside a mostly-wild river before. The trail along the river is wide enough for an ATV cowboy to ride along which is good for me and the hounds. Most of the way the river runs alongside it. The sound fascinated Teddy who had never heard a river before — it was a little difficult to keep him where I wanted him, next to me. It seems like rattlesnakes are not very common down here on the floor of the San Luis Valley along the river, but years of hiking with them as an ambient part of the environment has made me very vigilant about the nether parts of the bushes lining a trail.

The cottonwoods are still mostly green. The wild asparagus is beginning to turn the glowing gold of fall. The milkweed is between seasons. It was a sweet walk. In the act of observing the natural world and noting the changes, the jumble clears.

We even have a word for this nowadays, “mindfulness.” I hate that word and all that is behind it, one more thing to add to our list of “shoulds.” I hate the way the outside has come to be regarded, too, like it’s someplace to go because it will “heal” you. To me, that turns nature into just one more commodity. Nature isn’t a “commodity” and it doesn’t exist to “teach us mindfulness” or heal us. Conceptually that’s one more step in the distancing of humans from the reality that WE are nature. It’s not “out there” it’s INSIDE, and that means we — consciously or unconsciously — play an active part.

I recently read that the elk population up on Vail Pass has declined by a drastic percentage not because of hunting or predation, but because more people are “going into nature” in elk habitat.

“…there’s been a dramatic increase in backcountry use in the past decade. Bertuglia noted that trail use in the Vail area has doubled since 2009. There’s 30 percent more overnight use in the same period.” Vail Daily

All this human traffic disturbs the elk’s breeding grounds. Without “privacy” in an undisturbed world, elk don’t breed. Wildlife managers close the area, but people ignore the closures believing, I guess, that their “right” to go into nature trumps nature’s right to be alone.

My wildlife area closes in March and doesn’t re-open until mid-July. Those are beautiful hiking months, and I wish I could go there but I don’t. The water birds nest there during that time and have for millennia, I imagine. I don’t doubt for one minute that just one person — just me — with two leashed dogs, could be enough to disturb that. It seems to me that “mindfulness” more properly means being aware of the consequences of our existence.

Chamisa, cottonwoods, fall approaching…

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/rdp-monday-jumble/

A Simple Walk

“It’s hot you guys. I thought we’d go later.

Jumping around. Yearning eyes. Back and forth to the back door. More yearning eyes. Puppy pose, which is “dog” for “Please!!!!”

“Seriously?”

Paw on my leg.

“OK.”

Out the backdoor. Peeking inside to see “Does she mean it?” Relief when they see I’m putting on my shoes.

“C’mere, Teddy. Get your coat on. Teddy sits and patiently waits until his harness is buckled together. I clip a little LED light to the front for night walking. It’s not night, but evening before last, I wished I’d had done that. I recently got him a leash that attaches to a belt I wear around my waist. It works, it’s handy but it doesn’t have the simplicity of a leather lead.

I load my pockets with wallet and cell phone and we’re off. But where? As I drive by the lake, I see it’s empty of people. “Maybe?” Then I think, “Shriver/Wright?” but someone’s there, and. here in Heaven I have the luxury of NOT walking where there are other people — at least of starting a walk without other people around. Someone is there, I turn around and look over at the larger wildlife area to my left, “Hmmmm….” Last time it was very unpleasant. Millions of horseflies and heat, but today?

I drive up the dirt road under the cottonwood trees and park in the empty parking lot. Hunting season for waterfowl doesn’t start until October 8 or so.

Out come the dogs and we hit the trail.

It’s beautiful, a late summer day with a light cool breeze blowing in my face. I know when I turn around and face the sun, it won’t be as pleasant but live in the moment, right?

The whole Rio Grande wetland world is green. A couple of ducks cruise slowly over the surface of one of the slough’s bigger ponds. To my right, across the irrigation canal, is a herd of beautiful black Angus cattle. I stop to watch them. One of them notices me, takes a few steps forward, toward me, and stops. I hear my mom in my head, “Cattle are so curious.” It’s true. Unless there are calves involved in need of protection, they ARE curious. I hear a voice in the distance and see the most distant steers begin a slow trudge toward a barn. I think of my mom, again, and how, long ago, we sometimes, drove out of Denver to a spot that’s now under C470, where we watched a herd of cattle line up and walk home in the evening. Raised on a farm in Montana, she loved being outdoors, but she would not go alone and so she lived more-or-less trapped by fear in her condos. 23 years after her death, she’s still a mystery to me.

Teddy is VERY curious. He smells the cattle; he can’t see them for the willows that block his view.

There is no sign of autumn anywhere along the cottonwood horizon by the river, but the flowers are done. The sunflowers are brown and filled with seeds. Summer’s lavender/pink bee flowers are nothing but a memory. The milkweed pods have mostly opened their dry husks and sent the future off on the wind. It is Chamisa season and they are covered with yellow blossoms. I think that along the river the wild asparagus might be golden then think, “No, not yet.”

We can’t go far. I didn’t bring water and Bear is a snow dog and Teddy is black, so at .65 miles we turn around. The sun blasts my face and I put on my sunglasses, but they are really no help. A hat would’ve been smart, though. From time to time I turn back into the cool breeze and take in the view. Teddy is learning how to walk with Bear and me.

Training a dog is mostly a matter of doing the same thing in the same way over and over. You don’t think of it, but if you leash your dog and walk with him/her at a certain distance from your leg, pretty soon the dog gets it. “I walk here,” and that’s what they do. Bear likes to stop on walks and smell the air. I like to stop and look at scenery. These stops often involve Bear leaning against me and yesterday, we stopped, and my little Teddy, 25 pounds of energy and enthusiasm, leaned against my left leg as Bear, 75 pounds of calm and ferocity, leaned against my right. I thought, looking at barren Mt. Blanca under a thunderhead, “This is pretty good,” and that was an understatement.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/09/14/rdp-saturday-simplicity/

Panentheist Moment

Although I was very happy to be back on my favorite wetland trail with Bear yesterday, the hike was miserable in terms of physical comfort. As I walked, swatting horseflies, sweating and worrying about my dog — who’s a winter beast — I thought of an intense moment early in my acquaintance with the Southern California chaparral — probably 1988.

For the first year I hiked there, I stopped at the first sight of, well, second sight of, rattlesnakes. I returned when the weather cooled again and the snakes went underground. One afternoon in December, when the chaparral was green and sweet with the fragrance of black sage, I stopped on a ridge and looked out over everything. Those humped hills and valley, the two streams, were not yet a park, just an open space waiting for its future.

I said, “God, why are you so beautiful.” I wasn’t actually talking to God. It was more of an exclamatory word, but he answered.

Don’t call the guys with the white coats. There’s more.

God answered. He said, “So you would love me.”

“I do love you,” I answered.

“No, you just love me now when I’m green and comfortable, and my snakes are sleeping.”

I took that as a challenge and vowed to myself that I would hike in all seasons, and I did. Summer hikes were a lot different, but they were great, too. I got more or less used to snakes, and the one that killed two of my dogs wasn’t out there. It was in my yard. God knew what he was talking about.

That moment was a kind of passage for me and a lesson about love.

Yesterday at the slough I remembered all those summer hikes with gallons of water on my back for me and my dogs. I thought of how I learned that flowers bloomed in the chaparral in EVERY season, even the most sear, and that in the early evenings the air was tinged with pink as the ocean mist reached its soft fingers back up the inland canyons.

Yesterday I rolled down my shirt sleeves against mosquitoes (which don’t like me anyway) and horseflies (which might). I wished I’d worn jeans. My dog smelled the air and the ground in calm Bear joy, glad, also, to be back on this trail we love so much. I studied the cloudy sky that promised storms but didn’t deliver and wondered why it had been so windy at home (2 miles away) and so calm here. The stagnant inland pools left behind by the Rio Grande’s receding flood were covered with pale green algae. A white pelican flew over.

If it had been more comfortable for Bear — or if I’d brought water — I’d have taken the loop that brings us to the river. The milkweed was in full bloom and as tall as my shoulder. Monarch butterflies flew everywhere. And I thought of that moment so long ago, when God had answered my question, and thanked him.

*Panentheism = the belief that God is greater than the universe and includes and interpenetrates it.” Or, in the words of the five year old who explained it to me, “Everything is God.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/07/23/rdp-tuesday-passage/

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.

AND THEN…

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.

Autumn’s End

This is the harmonious mix of colors in Heaven’s wetlands right now. It’s pretty quiet out there. Most of the birds have, uh, flown. The slough is frozen and the river winds along slowly. There’s ice on both sides trying very hard to grow across the middle. The time will come and people will skate on it.

Dry grass and bare limbs are perfect camouflage for my deer. The buck’s antlers are very like the leafless branches of the trees. The deer wander back and forth a mile or so along the track, using the tank cars as cover. Good call as no hunter is going to shoot toward those things.

Snow is in the forecast for four days including Christmas. We will not get much. The mountains will, and that’s what matters. Behind the storm will be a few very cold days, meaning the snow will stay a while and the beige, gray, black and blue harmony of late fall will change to the miraculous blue and white purity of cold.