profile in courage
confident outside burrow
until whistle blows
hit me with a haiku
profile in courage
confident outside burrow
until whistle blows
hit me with a haiku
swiveling for sound
lucky rabbit ears hear all
hold your secrets close
hit me with a haiku
We camped at Mueller State Park last week and were gifted with this view out the back windows of our campervan:
It’d started out as “Hey, look! There’s a deer. Wait, there’s another one.” And then we lost count of them browsing and moving through the trees. Zippy saw two bucks with their antlers locked, but I missed that sighting. Still, I’m grateful to have seen these beautiful creatures.
Yesterday I spotted what I thought was a chipmunk on the back fence. But when I got out the binoculars, realized it was a very small squirrel. And when I saw how tentatively it moved on the uneven fence pickets, guessed it was maybe a youngster.
Then I saw this:
Definitely a youngster.
Nut-Munch veterans know exactly how to get at the food. This young one made several failed attempts, sometimes moving even farther from the destination. Eventually, they figured it out and moved closer.
And then . . . success.
One amber moment
Emma’s barking got me out of bed at 6:00 this morning. Turned out, there was a bobcat on the other side of our fence. Zippy saw it when he went to investigate and I was consumed by envy after he came inside and described peering over the fence at the growling bobcat.
Ah, well, I thought. Maybe someday I, too, will have a bobcat sighting.
Fast forward five hours when I was in my writing room with the window open and heard a strange sound coming from outside. It took a moment for my brain to kick in: growling bobcat! Emma’s brain kicked in right after mine and she began barking near the fence. I looked out my window and, sure enough, the bobcat had returned to the yard next door.
As it listened to the barking Emma, the bobcat’s tail moved side-to-side. Oddly, it moved more like a wagging dog’s tail than an irritated cat flicking its tail. The unperturbed bobcat remained there until Zippy came out into the yard to get Emma to stop barking. At that point, Zippy didn’t know what was happening, but the bobcat went on alert at Zippy’s approach.
After assessing the situation, the bobcat leapt onto the back fence. (Look at the size of those back paws!)
It settled in to watch Zippy and Emma for a bit as I continued to snap photos from the second-story window. When first photographing the gorgeous cat, I saw a flash of white on one ear and thought maybe it’d been tagged by a wildlife agency.
Then I realized both ears had white patches. I’d known about the tufts on their ears, but learned today bobcats have false eyes on the backs of their ears. I didn’t capture any images of both ears so here’s a photo from the linked site. I knew about false eyes on moths and butterflies, but was unaware mammals also have them.
Wow. Wow. Wow. And as if the bobcat excitement wasn’t enough, a few minutes later I looked out another window and was gifted the sight of a Turkey Vulture riding the air currents. I watched for several minutes, filled with gratitude for the local wildlife. This day’s a WIN!
Here’s a bunny for your Monday.
May you channel the attitude of the many bunnies in my neighborhood this coming week, exhibiting confidence along with a steely disregard for that which doesn’t concern you.
I spent the afternoon reading through my middle grade manuscript after a ten-day break and am very pleased. There are a few tiny continuity issues to clean up, but that’s it. I am really proud of this novel in which I shine a light on the prison industrial complex via a story of friendship set in a little town called Grapple.
None of us is free until we are all free. Abolition, yo.
I’ll say it again . . . I love this book.
Snacks on me!
See this squirrel’s clenched paw?
That little fist is a result of me tapping on the window to stop it from eating the peanuts we put out for birds* and, for the longest time, I thought it was the same brazen squirrel making a fist at me in response to my tapping. But then I realized it couldn’t be the same squirrel every single day and that ALL squirrels do that. Their immediate reaction to threat is a fist.
I can relate. Maybe I should enlist some squirrels to join me because, Yes I Do Want to Punch / fascists in the face.
*the squirrel food is on the back fence
Look at this beautiful bunny. So very mellow and timid-looking.
Wrong. This rabbit was sitting there when I came out with my camera to photograph my snow-downed poppies after last month’s big snowstorm. Not knowing it was there, I’d made zero attempt to walk softly. Despite me being practically close enough to tug on its ear by the time I spotted it, this bunny was not at all phased by my presence.
Time to face facts: brazen little bun-buns have taken over the neighborhood. Ah, well. Probably beats an alligator invasion.
In case you’re curious, this is what two feet of wet, heavy snow does to poppies:
Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.
When glancing out my window the other day, I briefly thought someone had tossed a rabbit carcass in our yard. Happily, this bunny was very much alive. The same can’t be said for our “lawn.”
The neighborhood has been bunny-rich for the past several years and they’re slowly eating away the grass, leaving behind larger and larger bare spots. Fine by me. Colorado is in extreme drought (I learned this morning that the current statewide snowpack is 53 percent of median) and none of us should be dumping water into lawns. The good news? We’re supposed to get rain (and snow!) on Friday. I’m hoping for more rain than snow because the trees and shrubs are leafed out and that extra weight will break limbs. Still, let it rain OR snow! Whatever needs to fall from the skies is one hundred percent welcome here!
Here’s one more bunny pic to calm the climate anxiety. These two started fussing with each other and became so aggressive they frightened the above dirt-lounger into hiding. They chased and tussled all over the place, including in the iris fans and lavender.
Here’s hoping they’ll be tucked away somewhere warm and dry during Friday’s storm.
Last week after leaving the Crow Valley Campground, we drove the 21-mile Birding Tour in the Pawnee National Grasslands. Alas, due to strong winds and dust, there weren’t a whole lot of birds out and about (aside from a huge number of Horned Larks which we’d never seen before plus some hawks on the ground that were too far away to identify).
However, we were gifted with antelope sightings. This small herd ran away from us as we sat idling on the road way far away from them. It seems antelope do not take any chances and will bolt at the first sign of danger.
And here they are after reaching a distance far enough away to feel safe. They stopped and wheeled around to watch us.
The scenery for that entire bumpy drive on the gravel roads was brown-brown-brown and we constantly scanned for movement. My (hopeful) eyes were often tricked into believing I saw running antelope, but it was almost always tumbling tumbleweeds blowing across the desolate landscape. Those tumbleweeds moved very quickly and I would’ve loved to see one blowing alongside the running antelope in order to compare speeds.
The antelope, though, brought me the most joy. No contest.
As previously mentioned, I’m having vision issues and haven’t been taking photos because focusing is a real struggle. However, earlier this week I took my camera with me to Standley Lake where I walked with a friend. The day was windy. So windy we got sand in our mouths. So windy, I didn’t want to take time to mess with camera settings. So windy, the gusts buffeted my camera as I took shots. So windy, I didn’t really worry about photo quality. And it shows.
These are American Coots, riding the waves. Standley Lake doesn’t usually have whitecaps, but it did that day.
Here’s a coyote my friend spotted across the lake. We’d kept wondering why the coots chose to stay out in the rougher water rather than sheltering in some cove. Maybe they knew this predator was roaming the shore.
We heard a Western Meadowlark and turned to see this perching bird. A quick snap of the camera before I ducked my head against the wind again. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was an American Kestrel.
Lastly, here’s what I believe is a Bald Eagle. This photo is garbage, but I can still remember the thrill of standing there on the sand as it flew directly toward us before veering off over the trees.
All in all, a successful outing. A nice walk-and-talk with my friend, nearly 4.5 miles of walking, and some wildlife sightings. (Not to mention the free microdermabrasion treatment as sand blasted our faces).
This morning, I ran on the trails for the first time in a while and my heart soared. A Red-winged Blackbird sang its song as I chugged up the first hill, but from then on out it was a magpie-rich experience. They raucously called from trees and flew overhead. One perched on a bush next to the trail and I watched it as I ran closer, regretting that my approach would startle it away. The regal corvid remained there until I was nearly within arm’s reach before flying across the ravine.
Just up the trail and around the corner on the approach to what we call the Bunny Run (because, you know, bunnies frequently seen there), two more magpies perched on either side of the trail, silhouetted against the sky. That sight prompted me to open my arms wide and proclaim out loud, “I receive this. Thank you!” And as I did, another gift appeared.
A coyote about 50 feet away, loping through the brush behind one of the magpies. The dark-faced coyote* stopped to watch me. I stopped and watched it, speaking in a low voice. Reassuring it that I came in peace. Then it took off again and I resumed running. When I reached the top of the Bunny Run, I stopped to look back. The coyote had also stopped to watch me. I waved, shouting my thanks and good wishes, and resumed the run with a smile and a little more pep in my step.
Farther up the trail, I saw two people. As I got closer, I realized one was sitting. In a chair? And then I noticed a hawk circling overhead. I watched the hawk as I ran, wondering at the flash of white underneath the wings. And just as it hit me that it wasn’t a hawk, I heard the loud buzzing sound. That non-hawk was a drone. Ugh. No more bird sounds. No more solitude. No more smile on my face.
But after grumpily running past the people and their drone, I reminded myself of all I’d already been gifted. So I less-grumpily continued up to the turnaround point at the top of The Slog (because, you know, never-ending uphill) and did my stretching. Then I raced down toward the people who sent up an even larger and louder drone right as I passed, and focused on the joy of movement. The only thing that mattered was being out on the trails again. Moving. Alive.
Thank you, universe. I receive these gifts.
* my search for images of dark-faced coyotes was unsuccessful
Just popping in to wish everyone a good week!
It was sunny and warm here in this part of Colorado, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to get outside with a friend. We walked a somewhat muddy trail that passed through a small prairie dog town with some gregarious inhabitants.
*I truly thought today was Monday. Oops…
Bird feeder raider
strategizing next assault
Nuts to you, human
I’d just gotten on the gravel road leading away from Cataract Lake Campground when a pair of enormous ears poked up from behind a shrub. I stopped Moby (our great white campervan) and handed the camera to Zippy in the passenger seat. By the time he had it up, another set of ears had joined the first and then the two mule deer kindly stepped out into the open.
They very calmly watched us and seemed prepared to do so for as long as we wanted to sit there. We bade them a good day and continued our drive back home, smiles on our faces.
As we hiked around Lower Cataract Lake, we were gifted with a moose sighting.
This young male had stood perfectly still, watching us watching him, before starting his slow slog across the lake. The mud and water created a loud squelching that brought smiles to our faces. And we were happy to again encounter (from a distance) this moose on the other side of the lake as it headed into the aspen.
One of the hardest parts of leaving Alaska for me was saying goodbye to almost daily moose sightings. There was a large bull that used to run out of the forest and abruptly stop in the clearing next to the road I drove home. The dewlap below his chin would swing wildly as he stood motionless. I loved that moose and am grateful I got to see this youngster. They are magnificent beings.
I get where Patti Smith is coming from in this quote: “In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.” And I think when I originally drafted my work-in-progress, I did approach my art with abandon.
But today, as I continue to revise, I’m feeling a bit stealthy as I sow bits and pieces of backstory throughout the first 50 pages of this middle grade novel. I need the reader to know certain things, but I don’t want the reader aware of my presence. I very much do NOT want those bits and pieces to scream
WARNING: HEAVY-HANDED AUTHOR ON THE LOOSE!
Instead, I’m trying my best to adopt this squirrel’s attitude.
No sudden moves. Only careful and deliberate revisions that I hope won’t call attention to my presence.
(Note: Patti’s quote resonates with me so much I previously used it here.)
Came for some bird food
discovered feeder missing
Nothing is more revealing than movement. ~ Martha Graham