Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Redux

I dusted off my bike and went for a ride yesterday. This morning I went for a run up a favorite ridge to check the runoff in several streams.  Who can resist the allure of a heart-shaped rock?  It is going to be a wonderfully wet spring in this high alpine desert.  There has been so much snow that I've been skiing all winter, not running; hence, I'm experiencing that run over by a truck feeling that comes from calling upon a whole different set of muscles.

I found bear and mountain lion tracks near the trailhead/parking lot. With the lion, there appeared to be a kitten.  It's possible, since cougars can go into estrous at any time of the year, like humans, rather than seasonally, like most other mammals. Tracks are hard to read in melting snow, so I reserve judgment. It is definitely an area that has been a cougar's territory for years; of that I am certain. I've seen plenty of signs.

Bears are emerging from hibernation, with cubs.  I saw signs everywhere of them digging like mad to uncover insects to eat. Imagine the appetite you'd work up in 3-4 months. It seems mercilessly ironic that early spring is the time when forest animals starve to death in harsh climates. They manage against the odds to survive a brutal winter, and then, when the sun is shining, the birds singing, the streams flowing, and temperatures rising, they starve. Spring may have arrived, but there is little to eat  for herbivores, omnivores, and, the carnivores who hunt them. All have severely depleted the fat reserves with which they began the winter. I am offering prayers that all beings find enough to eat.
At least one coyote family I've been watching looks reasonably well fed. They are in my neighborhood, in the foothills. We've been crossing paths often lately. I only recently learned that coyotes live in family units, much as we do, not packs. I assume that the small group I've been seeing is a mother, father, and perhaps a yearling from last spring, and that there are probably pups in a den nearby. I'm not going looking for the den. I don't want to be the stressor that causes them to move.  I'm pretty sure of its general location, from the sightings and the howling.

I visited a nearby beaver pond the other day and saw that they, too, made it through the winter. Likely there are kits in the lodge.

I haven't seen any deer yet this spring, but I saw signs this morning that they are heading up into their summer territory, much of which is still covered with hard-pack snow and thus largely out of bounds for me. The deer and other forest animals must treasure this time, before the trails are crawling with two-legs.

I have a problem painting hanging on the studio wall. It is not going where I thought it was, and it is not offering up any guidance re: where it is going, so I suppose it is time to give it a little rest. Perhaps I shall begin a painting that is rich in the greens that I want the deer and bears to find in the forest.

Meanwhile, I am still driving around with my gaiters and yak trax in the trunk, hoping for one or two more good snows.  It looks as though we might see one this weekend, at least in the high peaks.


  1. The "heart" rocks are great. I have a friend who collects them. I've managed to find one. Obviously, I'm not looking hard enough. I'm planning to get the bike out this weekend. Temps are predicted to be near 80 degrees. Too warm for me this time of year but I'll go with it. I like a cool spring--its just how it should be in my mind.

  2. I too like a cool rainy spring, but I'll take what comes. It's warm here, but no bike ride today; there's a controlled burn in the forest, stinking up the air. It rarely rains here in the spring, but it is about to do so today. It will cleanse the air, the animals in the forest will breathe easier, it will snow at altitude, and I'll get my skis back out. While I am waiting for the snow to accumulate in the mountains, I'll finish a painting & then take the train to Albuquerque to see my grandchildren. Life is good.

    I have quite a collection of heart-shaped rocks. For awhile, I was bringing one home to Carmen every time I went running. The black one in the photo is one of my favorites, with the break right down the middle.