Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Walk in the Woods....

Did I mention that Mr Dearling loves the mountains? The rest of our Colorado vacation was spent driving a long distance over those amazing twisty-turny-switchback-y roads, UP until the air is thin and then DOWN (remembering the descriptions of my OTR Driver sons, who weren't delighted with the scenery on these runs). I sort of plastered my face against the window, opened my eyes as wide as possible and drank in this exotic, foreign, stunning and unWisconsin vista.

We finally came to rest at a trailhead. It was a beautiful day - warm enough to be comfortable, slightly overcast. Mr Dearling got himself set and headed out for a proper Hike. (He walks between 7-10 miles a day at home most of the time, but it's through town and nothing like this.) He'd looked forward to the moment for a while.

I, in the meantime, was also ecstatic: I found a picnic table in the shade and arranged my book ("Wendy Knits") on the little bookstand, got out my baby wrap, arranged my honey-nut granola bar thing, looked around (see above) - and began knitting and reading. Then I realized I had a Little Friend. "Sooooo...what are you reading?" he said, "and more to the point, what's that you're eating?"

"Uhm...a honey-nut granola thing. Would you like some?"

Fast-forward a couple of hours. I had knit about three rows, read the same page five times - and fed a whole BUNCH of my little friend's little friends and half the population of the park of nine-line ground squirrels and chipmunks. Fed them the rest of my granola bar - and a large bag of walnuts, diligently broken into teensy bits. ("The WHOLE bag of walnuts???" said Mr Dearling. "Welll...yeah," said I.) It really was amazing; the birds and little fuzzies were bold. NOT fearless, and although they might have, I didn't try to feed them straight out of hand. But I didn't use the zoom lens, they were all within inches. I do, however, remember the saying of us Bear Aficianados: "A fed bear is a dead bear", by which we mean that animals who become so accustomed to humans as to lose their wariness can wind up in serious trouble.

When Mr Dearling returned we compared notes, and it would be difficult to say which of us enjoyed the time more. If the right combination of factors came together he would move out there - or to New Hampshire, Vermont, Upstate New York - in a heartbeat. He used to climb in the Shawungumk {sp?} Mountains near New Palz; he says with pride, "Oh yeah, I was a Gunkie Junkie". And truth to tell? If his terrain was covered with trees and forests, I could move just as fast.

On the way back to the motel we came to an area where there were a few cars pulled off the road and having Snoopy Genes as keen as the next one, we pulled over too. It was just the barest sinking of light - and there, in the large meadow and deep forest, were two young male elk cavorting and stomping around in a creek. There were a couple of females ambling around looking unconcerned. I couldn't actually see from that distance, but I'm sure they were peering out the corner of their eyes and saying to each other "Don't you think the tall one's cute?" and "Does this angle make my butt look big?"

Then - as we stood there ("we" being four or five people and two ranger-looking ladies who were, it turned out, volunteer Elk Rangers, knowledgeable folks who manage traffic control in such instances and provide no end of fascinating facts about their charges) - a huge bull elk emerged from the deeps of the forest. He strolled along, bearing his enormous antlers high. The elk-boys noticed but kept their distance; the ladies looked, if possible, less concerned ("Oh nuts, I KNOW it makes my butt look big" "But Sylvie, we're elk, that's a GOOD thing.") And twice, as we watched, the bull elk bugled - short, wavering tones which the Rangers told us are practice tones; the actual full-throated "I mean business, c'mon punks, gimme your best shot" bugling would start in a couple of weeks. It was,, more than all of that. I found myself whispering to him "Megwetch" -the Chippewa word for "Thank you". I have some pictures, not so good, but I'm going to do another post today of a bunch o' pictures and see how that works.

The next day Paul took another hike and I stayed in the motel room; not as nice a view, but it was drizzly and I had my computer, the TV, my books, my knitting....

The last of our time in Colorado included a stroll through Estes Park (where our motel was). We found a spectacular shop serving coffees and stationery! To my forever delight I found a new daybook exactly like the one I have this year, which I LOVE and haven't found anywhere at home. Also in our conversation with the pleasant young proprietor I mentioned being a calligrapher (and therefore a lover of papers and blank books and pens) and he said if I were ever in the area for any length of time to consider myself hired to teach! Ooooh...yeah, I could surely do that. We also spent some time sitting on a scenic bench by a small grassy park - in which there were four female elk! Square-splat in the middle of town! They were lying on the grass, enjoying their cuds, as people stood around taking pictures. ("Point your nose straight at 'em, Stella - otherwise your ears look too big".) I was relieved to see that no one, in spite of their docile appearance, approached too close to them. For they are BIG and carry Sharp Hooves.

The next day we began our wending-homeward...but Mr Dearling, living up to his name, made a point to stop in Loveland and Greeley armed with yarn shop addresses! In one I found that pet skein of alpaca (which is dozing on my desk); in another, three pair of DPNs, one looking like bone and two looking like tortoiseshell..did I mention that before?

We stayed in North Platte overnight, continued our trip home, arriving Saturday evening. Today - being Thursday, I am contentedly Tucked Back In. I will now resume your regular programming, including What Evangeline and Lilliane are up to; What I'm Knitting; and What I'm Reading.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Such forward wildlife!

I'm so jealous of your trip.