Nature Friday ~ October 18, 2019

Looks like our BFF has arrived (can I get a collective ‘Amen’ here) which means it’s time to welcome the weekend celebrate the beauty Mother Nature. As always, we’re joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers over at LLB in our Backyard. Since Halloween is just around the corner, let’s feature one of the iconic symbols for this time of year, the beautiful orange pumpkin. Did you know the word pumpkin originally was derived from the word pepon, the Greek word for “large melon,” or something round and large. The French adapted the word to “pompon,” and the British referred to it as “pumpion.” It’s not a stretch to see how American colonists came to simply call it “pumpkin.”

PumpkinThe term pumpkin itself has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, used and is often interchangeably referred to as “squash” or “winter squash.” In North America and the UK, pumpkin generally refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo (Australian English notes it as winter squash of any appearance). As a warm-weather crop, seeds are generally planted in July and are generally quite hardy. The plants produce both a male and female flower and must be fertilized, usually by bees.

Pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been cultivated as early as 7,500 to 5,000 BC. Pumpkin pie is often a staple in both Canadian and US Thanksgiving Day feasts though pumpkins used in pie fillings are different from varieties used to carve Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. In 2017, over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in the US with the top pumpkin-producing states being Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

PumpkinsSeveral of our neighbors plant pumpkins on that little strip of ground between the sidewalk and the street (affectionately known as the ‘hell strip’ in these parts) and are frequently noshed on by squirrel thugs who seem to treat them as a fast food drive-through. Those gigantic pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) you sometimes see were developed from South American large squash varieties through efforts of botanical societies and pumpkin enthusiasts.

PumpkinsNutritionally speaking, pumpkins are versatile and most parts of the plant are edible. Canned pumpkin (not filling) is often recommended by vets as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats for digestive ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs. It’s a mainstay around the Ranch for keeping canine tummies content. Elsa in particular, is a connoisseur of the orange fleshy pureé. The high fiber content aids with good digestion. Did you know raw pumpkin is often fed to poultry, as a supplement to their regular feed, during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops off during cold months. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc for peeps and are a delicious and low calorie snack.

I don’t know about you, but with pumpkin pie season getting started, maybe it’s time to start thinking about stocking up on whipped cream.

Pumpkins

Here’s hoping the weekend weather allows you to get out and enjoy some classic aspects of autumn nature. Me personally…I think I’m going to follow this truck.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 4, 2019

It’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides us and because it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Autumn has definitely arrived and judging by your kind comments this week, a favorite of many peeps.

This week nature has had a lot to offer. Sadly, not all of it was good either. Several wildfires continue to burn in our fair state and there have been a number of officially ordered evacuations. Winds, warm weather and tinder-dry conditions have fueled these fires and we pray for the  safety of residents and firefighters.

Fires
Photo courtesy of Jerry McBride/Durango Herald via AP)/The Durango Herald via AP

Human activity can impact the look of nature in any number of ways. Last week while visiting the Vail area, I saw what extraction mining can do to a remarkable landscape. The ghost town of Gilman, Colorado, located near Battle Mountain was once a thriving mining operation with a number of mines being opened beginning in the 1870’s during Colorado’s silver boom. Gold and silver were mined until the 1920’s.

As is often the case, mining operations went deeper and deeper and the extracted ore contained heavy sulfide content which local smelters refused to process. Separators were installed in 1905, and a problem was turned into an asset. Zinc, often a by-product in silver mining, became the economic mainstay until the early 1930’s. When the zinc market dropped, the mines switched to copper and silver ores which then became the main focus until the zinc price returned. Zinc became the principal ore until the mine was forcibly closed due to extreme pollution by the EPA who designated the town a Superfund site; it being listed on the National Priorities List in 1986. Gilman’s residents were forced to abandon the 235-acre site, many leaving much behind. By 1984, rock-bottom zinc prices coerced the company to leave Gilman for other profitable enterprises. A couple of attempts have been contemplated for redevelopment of the site but much like the town, they have also been abandoned.

The thriving town of Gilman (population of around 350) once included an infirmary, a grocery store, and even a bowling alley in its heyday. By 1970, total production was 10 million tons of ore ( 393,000 troy ounces (12,200 kg) of gold; 66,000,000 troy ounces (2,100,000 kg) of silver; 105,000 tons of copper; 148,000 tons of lead; and 858,000 tons of zinc) while an astonishing 8-million tons of mine waste was excavated and deposited into the ecosystem.

The townsite has long been notoriously vandalized over the years with worker’s homes being heavily tagged in graffiti by trespassers and nearly every window broken. The main shaft elevators still sit ready for ore cars, permanently locked at the top level. Various vehicles still sit in their garages, left behind by their owners. The town has been the subject of interest for many historians, explorers, and photographers.

Gilman, COThe once colorful homes of Gilman sit close to the mining facilities with the waste tailings flowing down the hill. Though posted as a no-trespassing area, the town continues to draw vandals who have posted hundreds of images on social media sites. Looking through many eerie and creepy images on Instagram, it seemed the residents left in a hurry. One particular image, a box of Cheer soap, spilled on the floor along with children’s toys, magazines, among scads of debris haunted my thoughts. I did not trespass the fence area, instead taking in some of the natural beauty of the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder about those who lived and worked there and how many of them fell ill after they left.

Notice the mine tailings flowing down the hill on the right.Gilman, CO

Still, all is not all bad and I certainly don’t want to end on a sour note. All the changing leaves reminded me that Nature can still be a very beautiful place.

Vail, CO
Betty Ford Alpine Garden, Vail, CO

We hope you have a beautiful weekend.Vail, CO

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Waterfall Wednesday ~ October 2, 2019

The zen continues. How’d you like this view from your deck?

Waterfall

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Turning the Page to October

Welcome to October, my favorite color. Time to change the month on your calendar and since no one complained about seeing more images from Vail, I thought share another one from my recent trip taken on a hike Saturday morning. Not only was it a picture perfect day, the health app on my phone was tricked into thinking I’d walked 25 flights of stairs along the DaVos Trail in West Vail. That cracked me up but now that I’ve been home long enough, the lactic acid buildup in my calves suggests it was more than accurate.

Autumn, Vail

The changing of the aspens is a annual ritual in the Colorado High Country and starts with ribbons of color weaving through various kinds of pines and rock formations. It’s one that makes your heart sing with ooh’s and ahhh’s as you take all that beauty in to your soul. Typically you stop periodically to check the view. As you savor all that beauty, that scenery (as well as the exertion) just takes your breath away. And then you find a whole new religion.

Happy Tuesday.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ September 30, 2019

Is it really the last day of September? How did THAT happen? After a few days of soul rejuvenation in Vail, Colorado I’m back in the city. And what a shock to my morning walk routine. It’s been ages since I’d gone up to the mountains and I sure noticed the difference in the air quality and noisiness upon my return.

So that means I’m probably going to be hanging on the quiet beauty of the high country for a few days to keep those tranquil vibes lingering just a bit longer as I re-assimilate. Hope you won’t mind. Happy Monday.

Autumn, Vail

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 13, 2019

Today is Friday the 13th and I’m handling today’s post for mom. Sam here. Despite the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, I think it’s lucky for mom that I’m taking over for her today as we join our Blogville fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Did you know Friday the 13th occurs any month that begins on a Sunday? According to a local NPR station, “the last time a full moon happened on Friday the 13th was on June 13, 2014, said Paul Hayne, assistant professor in the Department of Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “You might say it only happens once in a blue moon,” he said. “This particular full moon is unique in the sense that it both falls on Friday the 13th and it’s also the Harvest Moon.” A Harvest Moon is the closest full moon to the fall equinox, when our days start to get shorter than our nights. The fall equinox is on Sept. 23. The last time a Harvest Moon happened on Friday the 13th was on October 13, 2000. The next time a full moon will happen on the superstitious day will be in August 2049.” Pretty cool stuff, huh?

The mornings have been wonderfully cool (today it was just 48F and the Ninja and I showed our super sled dog skills dragging pulling mom on our the walk) but it warms up during the day (into the 90’s this weekend). Who knows nature better than me, Ace Snooper-Sniffer about snuffing out nature’s coolest stuff? After all, I know all the best places to check out where I leave loads of coded messages for other doggos who walk in my paw prints. As mom’s whined told you multiple times, it’s been hot and dry this summer. After a nice little shower a couple of days ago (the first in forever in our ‘hood), something strange happened. These guys started popping up in the weirdest spots. This first one is located in one of my all time favorite spots to read pee mail. The nerve that now there’s a house there now. Ugh…naturally that means mom won’t let me sniff there now. Boy she can be such a killjoy!

Mushrooms

Look how the guy managed to push itself up through that mulch. Makes you wonder how much force nature used to that.

While we were walking this morning, we found this straight line of mushroom caps.  I think they’re making a stand against some garden mouse.Mushrooms

I think this little fella is a tad sleepy-see how he’s leaning sideways.

Mushrooms

We noticed something else kind of weird in our own garden. Mom planted a couple of vegetables (a cherry tomato and a pepper plant) in pots this year to see how’d they fare. In a word, the cherry tomatoes have been going “nuts.” Mom is thrilled but I don’t like them, they’re veggies and as a Standard, well…I have my standards concerning anything remotely sounding veggie-like. As in…nope, nada, ain’t happening. Elsa of course thinks otherwise, but then she eats wool socks so she obviously has no standards. There’s never any rhyme or reason as to what shows up in our garden.

Veggies

Mom saw new  ‘neighbor’ this week. Although a pair of falcons have been seen a few times in the past couple of years several blocks away, she’s never seen one this close to the Ranch. He was pretty skittish and she couldn’t get very close so this isn’t the best photo with a cell phone, but it’s still pretty cool. Elsa and I would have made him fly away flushed him out for a close up but mom won’t let us. That woman is too heavy handed with killjoy stuff.

Falcon

Mom was hoping he’s looking for squirrels who are eating acorns. Gawd knows there is a gigantic bouquet of those buggers. But he was still pretty cool to check out.

We hope you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful Indian Summer weekend but don’t forget to enjoy some nature at the same time.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 6, 2019

Let’s hear it for the arrival of our close personal friend, Friday. This is also when (after a hearty welcome) we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard and stroll around Blogville checking out the beauty of Mother Nature.

It’s been a busy, if not shortened week and I’ve been somewhat derelict in finding a lot of new blooms to share so let’s take a look at some of of the our insect friends, pollinators and predators around the Ranch.

Insects

Honey and bumble bees are our best friends in the garden; they pollinate flowers and create that scrumptious nectar, honey. I’m not sure what that little stick-like bug is just to the left of this bee but he watched that bee working for a long time. I think he’s some sort of ‘voyeur’ bug.

Insects

Moths and butterflies are also big pollinators in the garden. This colorful guy was filling up like a thirsty SUV. Check out the schnoz on that dude. You’d think he was drilling for oil.

Insects

The Plumbago is in full bloom right now and the bees and butterflies are grateful for the tasty smorgasbord being offered.

Insects

Known for their triangular heads, bulging eyes with flexible necks, long bodies that may or may not have wings, all Mantodea have forelegs that are enlarged and perfectly adapted for catching and griping unsuspecting prey. Their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name “Praying Mantis.” I couldn’t get as close as I wanted without scaring this bad boy off (thus the lousy image) but was so excited so see him in the garden that I named him Harvey. I’d never seen one before in person. Mantis generally wait for prey to venture close by and only eat live prey. Because they lack any chemical protection, they often stand tall spreading their forelegs and fan their wings out to make them appear larger and more threatening. Mantises lack chemical protection, so this display is mostly a bluff. If pursued, they may slash their captors with raptorial legs. They are a fascinating garden predator.

Spider web

Some garden residents build remarkably beautiful homes. Around the Ranch, those intricate structures often don’t last long. Whenever I happen to absently walk into one encounter one, too often I start simultaneously screeching while wind-milling my arms like a maniac trying to remove the web from my face. The neighbors no doubt think of me as that crazy dog lady who flips out with spider webs. I’m really not an arachnophobe and find spiders quite fascinating, but that close-to-invisible, Velcro-like fiber turns me into an arm flapping weirdo. It’s a wonder I don’t lift off the ground trying to get that stuff off my face.

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you are able to get outside. Mother Nature is still offering a whole lot of wonderful and should be enjoyed. If you live on the east coast, we hope you stay safe and dry. But before you go outside and savor Indian Summer, don’t forget to check out the e-shop for items including the recently published BarkBook chock full of easy to make tasty recipes, stylin’ bandanas, hand-painted note cards, and “Scrubbies” (which work great as exfoliators on uprights or work hard cleaning your veggies or around the house in general).

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 30, 2019

Welcome to Friday where we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in the Our Backyard. Today let’s stroll around the Denver Botanical Gardens where ‘gardening with altitude’ is how we roll in the Mile High City.DBG

Officially created in 1951, the Denver Botanic Gardens has come a long way from its humble roots. Beginning as a small rose garden in Denver City Park near the Museum of Natural History, it became clear the garden was a bit too public as the roses were constantly being dug up by visitors. Thus a number of influential city leaders began looking for a more secure space. They found a large flat spot a couple of miles to the south in the Cheesman Park neighborhood. Originally Denver’s first cemetery, the graves were relocated (although an occasional grave still turns up every once in a while) and the garden oasis began to evolve into what it is now. Featuring the largest collection of plants from cold temperate climates around the world, it includes seven diverse gardens that primarily include plants from Colorado and neighboring states.

DBG

Located just behind the Ruth Porter Waring House (originally used as the administration building and gift shop), the Romance Garden has a spectacular Chihuly sculpture (from the 2014 exhibit). It’s beautiful during the day but near dusk, it is even more spectacular.

DBG

At the opposite end of the gardens is the Shofu-en, or the Garden of Pine and Wind, a traditional Japanese strolling garden, another visitor favorite. Drawing its inspiration from the area’s climate and plants from Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region, there are 130 character pines transplanted from the foothills. The garden was designed by Koichi Kawana and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

DBG

No visit is complete without a stroll around the Monet Pool. The spectacular collection of water lilies in bloom this time of year are always well visited.

DBG
Courtesy of denvermodern.mariah.com

Last on this tour is the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. This structure is unlike any in the world, built from concrete (Charles Boettcher made much of his fortune in concrete), it contains faceted and curved plexiglass panels specifically designed to have the condensation flow down the structure into the watering system. When built, it was the only tropical conservatory between Missouri and San Francisco. Some 2000 species are cultivated in the conservatory.

DBG

Hope you enjoyed this week’s tour of nature in the city. The DBG is my favorite 24 acres in town and a wonderful place to spend a few hours enjoying elements of nature in a hectic world which proves you can find amazing views of nature even in an urban setting.

We wish you a terrific Labor Day ‘howliday’ weekend and hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of the many fine offerings nature provides on this last weekend of summer.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 23, 2019

Welcome to another Friday where we join our fur-iends and Nature Friday hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s [still] hot in the Mile High. A small shower with more thunder and lightning than rain blew through Wednesday evening which did help cool things down. The dogs have decided they are not fans of thunderstorms which is strange since nothing used to bother Sam but in his golden years, has become visibly distressed the moment he hears any thunder. This storm was a loud one so he was most verklempt.

Sun and heat loving perennials continue to take center stage around the hood. Come along one of my early morning walks where I came across an enormous trumpet vine that had fully covered an entire utility pole. Passing by, it was literally abuzz with bees and wasps enjoying the sweet nectar so I had to stay a comfortable distance away from them but I still just had to stop and take it all in.

Flowers

Flowers

For some reason, the sunflowers have been very prolific this summer, popping up across gardens throughout the neighborhood. My own garden is being taken over by them. It’ll be an interesting fight between the Lupines and the Sunflowers to see who takes over. I’m hoping they can learn to share the space since both are so pretty.

Flowers

Continuing along on the walk, I came across a beautiful, deep red Rose of Sharon shrub who was showing off. Such a pretty plant, but quite toxic to pets. The spent blooms are especially enticing to dogs so care should be exercised when incorporating this beauty in the garden landscape.

Flowers

Maybe Mother Nature’s way to warn us of its toxicity are the spikes surrounding the closed bud?

Flowers

One of the neighbors whose garden I enjoy walking past recently installed a new glass ornament with its whimsical look made me smile.

Falmingo

That’s about it for me. Tomorrow Sam and I will be attending the annual awards luncheon for pet therapy members and their dogs. It’ll be nice seeing the gang again since we’ve been absent this summer after Sam’s illness and recovery during June and July. I’m looking forward to meeting the newest members who have joined our ranks and for celebrating some of the program’s superstars. Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Whatever you have planned, I hope it’s a ‘pawsome’ weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 16, 2019

Is it just me or is August flying by? Seems like only yesterday that it was the 4th of July. At any rate, we’ve breezed through to another Friday. And if it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard.

WaterlilyThis week is all about waterlilies. A recent trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens proved this is prime time for viewing these plants. Frenchman Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac (1830-1911) often considered the father of hardy waterlily hybridizing, creating over 100 hybrids in a rainbow of colors using species from around the world, including North America, as parent plants. Until the introduction of these hybrids, most people in Europe were only familiar with their native white-flowering hardy waterlily, Nymphaea alba.

WaterlilyIn 1889, Latour-Marliac displayed many of his new waterlilies at the World Fair in Paris, where they won first prize and caught the attention of one Claude Monet. Monet placed an order with Latour-Marliac’s nursery (which still operates to this day in Le Temple-sur-Lot, France) and soon thereafter, planted them in his new garden in Giverny. The rest is history.

WaterlilyThe Botanic Gardens’ collection includes twenty of Latour-Marliac’s historically significant hybrids in its own “Monet Pool” that were originally introduced in the gardens in the early 1900’s.

Waterlily

The day was sunny and bright (not the best for picture taking) but the reflections were stunning on the still water. The ducks were actively skimming the sides of the pool for whatever it is that ducks eat and dragonflies flitted about enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures.

Waterlily

Hope you enjoyed strolling through one of my favorite areas at the Denver Botanical Gardens. Enjoy a fabulous weekend and don’t forget to enjoy some nature yourself.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾