Nature Friday ~ March 18, 2022

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nature Friday blog hop, where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link to see what others are sharing.

While the Spring Equinox is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, it continues to tease the Ranch Hands as it takes one step forward and then retreats briefly. Tuesday and Wednesday were warm and inspired me to cleanup various flower beds before another storm was forecast to arrive. While raking up winter debris, I took note of a few unexpected early arrivals.

Flowers

These hyacinths are beginning to wake up from their winter snooze and should be ready to bloom in a couple of weeks or so now that Mile High sun has nudged them.

Garden poppies are beginning to wipe the sleep from their eyes as they started greening up. Seeing green not related to St. Patrick’s Day was so exciting, I nearly did an Irish jig. The  key word being “nearly.” I don’t think I’ve actually ‘jigged’ for decades but in my mind I was pirouetting with joy as if I were young and limber again. The ground was moist and loamy with that invigorating scent of a world of microorganisms. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly tilled ground: earthy and fragrant, full of life from decayed material.

Flowers

Raking up leaves accumulated over the winter, I interrupted several bees hoping to nosh peacefully amidst the freshly bloomed baby-blue, grape hyacinths (their purple cousins continue to sleep in for a bit). When these little charmers appear, I know spring is, indeed on its way. These cuties continue to naturalize throughout the garden as I discovered  some in unexpected spots between the flagstones. The spring cleanup will continue for some time to remove marauding plants to better sites.

Flowers

A lovely day spent getting my hands in the dirt, I waited for the forecasted spring storm to arrive. True to the ‘Springtime in the Rockies’ adage and all which that means to Front Range gardeners, yesterday’s landscape turned into a beautiful sea of heavy, wet spring snow.

Snow

I had previously scheduled my tax returns to be prepared yesterday and decided to walk over rather than drive. It was surprisingly as quiet as it was beautiful. I say ‘beautiful’ because like 99% of all spring storms in the Mile High, it will be mostly melted by late today, a nice drink of welcome moisture for the landscape.

Snow

As I took in the scene, I couldn’t help but notice some ground cover tumbling over the rock wall surrounding the grounds of the assisted living home across the street from my appointment.

Snow

Walking along two of the sides of this oversized city block,  beauty along the fenceline emerged like lace.

Snow

The weekend promises more spring-like temperatures which will beckon more garden work but commitments for the ongoing Canine Colorado magazine fundraiser has higher priority, taking me south to the Colorado Springs area to help another supermodel with his day before the camera, after which I’ll continue southbound and drop in to see my dad. As Norman will be heading to hospital on Monday for visits, it will be a busy weekend getting him ready for his shifts following the photoshoot. Just don’t mention the bath/groom to him-wouldn’t want to wreck spring’s arrival on his tender psyche with his aversion to getting wet.

What plans are on your dance card for this weekend when Spring arrives? Whatever you do, we hope you are able to get out there and immerse your soul in Nature’s gifts.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 4, 2022

Welcome to the first edition in March to the Nature Friday blog hop, where we join our New Mexico hosts, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Make sure you stop by the clicking on their link to see what others are sharing.

SpringLast week, the Mile High spent most of it suffering in brutally cold conditions with multiple days in a row of snow. Total accumulations were between 8-10 inches.  Apparently this week, Mother Nature reconsidered and then decided an about face might be appropriate, apparently trying to make up for being so bloody harsh and mean last week.Spring

Yesterday morning’s walk showed how she was trying to make up by being pretty and nice. Look at that lovely clump of early blooming crocuses.

Spring

No doubt Mother Nature thought all could be forgiven if she merely provided a burst of beautiful color with some reticulated irises. Well…okay…maybe. Sights like this make you begin to think perhaps all those previous HBO thoughts you had weren’t warranted after seeing gorgeous deep purple crocuses with those vibrant, brightly colored stamens. Sigh, how can you stay mad with Mother Nature when she delivers days like this?

Spring

With sunny, warm days like these, one could easily be seduced into thinking Spring was just around the corner ready to burst forward. And then you hear the weekend forecast foretelling of the age-old battle between Winter and Spring duking it out with two back-to-back storms colliding in the metro area beginning later tonight with accumulations of 2-5 inches, depending on where you live. This, following record-tying temperatures in the mid-70’sF this week.  In March! Today will be fairly nice again (albeit dreary) until this afternoon when the first front moves in with a splatter of moisture.

Weather

And then the bungee cord snaps your head back in the ongoing battle between the seasons here…often referred to as “Springtime in the Rockies.”

Join us next week when we share a big announcement-it’s gonna be ‘pawsome!’

Whatever you do this weekend, we hope you get check out to see what Nature has to offer-whichever season she deigns to share.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 4, 2022

Welcome to February’s first Nature Friday edition, where we join our pals Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Rosy and gang recently relocated to the Land of enchantment so make you you click on the link to check out their adventures.

Originally I had planned on doing a post about the big storm that hit the Mile High City this week, bringing windchill temps down to sub-zero levels. And then I heard a most remarkable story on the radio this morning about a nature story of sorts from the Western Slope and decided to rewrite it.

It all started the day after Christmas. Returning to their Grand Junction home from Denver, Charles Reigies, girlfriend Hannah Poscente and their dog, Mia hit a spot of black ice near Gypsum, CO late at night and crashed. When Charles came to, Hannah was injured, Mia had disappeared and their Jeep was on its side. Hannah was rushed to the hospital by ambulance with a broken neck. Charles searched for Mia until the tow truck arrived. He wasn’t able to find Mia in the snow but that’s not where this story ends.

When Hannah was released from hospital the next day, she reactivated her Facebook page and joined various lost pet sites hoping for a miracle.

Lost Dog
Photo Courtesy of Hannah Poscente’s Facebook page

At the time, this was one of the first snowstorms to hit the region and cold temps moved in. Hannah’s post were liked and shared and thus the ‘village’ began the implausible quest of Charles and Hannah finding their beloved pet.

Enter Janet Cross, who lived near the crash site, and heard about it. She set up a trail camera near the accident. When reviewing footage, she realized Mia (like many pets do when separated from their family) returned to the area twice a day. Mia was skinny, temps were freezing, but she was alive. There were other sightings among various people but living 2 hours away from the crash made it difficult for Charles and Hannah to follow up quickly on them. But Janet didn’t giving up. She obtained a trap from animal control and checked it every hour. She refused to give up on finding Mia and continued to help reunite the family.

The deer fence the vehicle crashed into was rebuilt making Mia’s reunion even more challenging. Mia was not seen for 8 days. Then a miracle happened. Janet received a call from someone who lived 10 miles from the crash site indicating that Mia had been spotted so Janet repositioned the trap near that area. Mia was initialled scared off but after receiving a message about  being sighted, Hannah and a friend returned to the area to continue the search. Still in a neck brace, Hannah decided to go out and look again while the friend took a meeting on her phone. Snow and sagebrush camouflaged the surrounding landscape but Hannah continued walking along the train tracks. Mia was there! And she didn’t scare off, instead she came walking toward her person. Hannah recorded the reunion with her cell phone.

Dog
Photo courtesy of Hannah Poscente

Mia was so excited to see her mom, she began jumping all over her and the video cut off. The same scene was repeated when Hannah returned to her Grand Junction home with Mia with Charles being knocked down by his happy pup. This improbable rescue ended one month and one day after Mia was lost. “She’s still got a lot of weight to put back on,” said Charles, patting Mia, her ribs showing, “but the vet says she’s doing good, all things considered.” No one will know what Mia endured while lost and her story continues to be shared on Facebook, often with the title “Never Give Up Hope.” And what about Angel Janet, the caring soul who made it her mission to help out? “She fought traffic and predators and snow and wind,” Janet said, “and I mean, she made it.”

Dog
Courtesy of Stina Sieg, CPR News

{sniffle} I hope you can now see why this week’s nature post needed to be rewritten and how it really does take a village sometimes.

Snow

While today’s post was about a shy dog whose adventures in nature we’ll never know the details about, here are a few photos of the Ranch Hands who finally were able to take a brief walkabout yesterday afternoon when temps finally reached 25Fº. The snow was still deep enough to require boots (much to their chagrin) with warm jackets but the Vitamin D outing was much needed by all 3 of us. For those still in the grips of Mother Nature’s cruel hands, we hope you stay safe, warm and cozy.

Ranch Hands
How are we supposed to walk in these stupid boots?
Norman
Ahhhhhhh! This is how you spell relief.
Elsa
Hurry up, bozo. I have snow drifts to enjoy.

Have a great weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wordy Wednesday ~ Groundhogs Day 2022

Happy Groundhog Day, the day where normally intelligent people rely on a rodent who supposedly predicts the arrival of spring. I myself have never put much stock in this silliness but it made me wonder where did this madness originate.

Apparently (and unbeknownst to moi), the tradition of consulting a rodent for a sign of an early spring or a late winter stems from the Christian tradition of Candlemas having its roots in pagan observances. Wait, another pagan influence? Ahem…move over Halloween.

“Candlemas was originally a Celtic festival marking the ‘cross-quarter day,’ or midpoint of the season,” according to the Almanac website. With the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox , a sunny day “predicted” the arrival of spring in about 6 weeks. Which, I might point out, is around the same time as the arrival of the spring equinox. Hmm, what a convenient ‘coincidence,’ you say?

Digging into just how we arrived at this annual rouse tradition where rodents predicte spring’s arrival, did you know there are a slew of season-predicting rodents, all from the Eastern part of the US. Probably the most famous of course is Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania, followed by Dunkirk Dave and Staten Island Chuck both of New York, Millville Mel of New Jersey (who recently passed away and efforts to find a replacement were unsuccessful since groundhogs are hibernating this time of year), and Buckeye Chuck from Marion, Ohio. Interestingly this custom seemed to originate in Europe. Seems a bear brought the news to the French and Brits, while Germans looked to a badger for a sign of spring’s arrival. Why they just didn’t refer to the Gregorian calendar is beyond me, but then again…a lot of folklore seems baffling. When German immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1800’s, they brought the Candlemas legend with them. Pennsylvania being bereft of badgers but finding lots of groundhogs or woodchucks there, well lo and behold, an adaption of the legend came into being. Because a woodchuck is just a small bear, right? 😳

Anyway, I only had to look outside to realize spring ain’t coming any time soon. The Mile High was ‘gifted’ with between 8-12 inches of white stuff with wind chill factors pushing temperatures below zero.

Snow
Just look at that powdery pile!

These sunflower stalks in the front garden are about two feet tall and are pretty much halfway buried. The dogs weren’t very keen on trying to partake of their early morning ritual–going potty. Elsa gave me a look to chill my soul, though she bounced around once she finished while Norman’s eyes seem to ask…”do I really have to?” It’s safe to say today (and probably for the next few days) will be spent more indoors than normal given the brutally cold temps and Norman’s aversion for walking in snow.

If you were hit by this monster storm you already know the rodent’s prognostication wasn’t any kind of newsflash. And to think all we had to do was look at a calendar and not wake up some rodent from the squirrel family who shouldn’t be trusted anyway.

The good news is Friday is just a couple days away though. Stay safe and warm. Happy Hump Day.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ December 31, 2021

It’s Friday which means we’re are joining the Nature Friday blog hop with our friends, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

WildfiresWeather and climate change continue to dominate nature  along the Front Range. Unless you live in a cave, you’ve no doubt heard about the catastrophic Marshall and Middle Fork fires which hit the northern metro suburbs yesterday afternoon. Hurricane force winds of over 100 mph are believed to have knocked down power lines sparking dry grasslands which moved quickly between Denver and Boulder. The entire towns of Superior and Louisville were evacuated yesterday which remains in effect today. Nearly 600 homes, the Element Hotel and a shopping center were destroyed. Six people were reported to have suffered injuries but it is unknown if there have been any fatalities. Winds were so strong yesterday, there was little firefighters could do but evacuate homes and businesses in the fire’s path as quickly as possible. Major traffic jams occurred when some cars four-wheeled over bike paths and through parking lots to escape the wildfire’s path. A state of emergency is in effect.

Wildfire
Photo courtesy of AP 

Wildfires are becoming a year long phenomena throughout the Western U.S. but this latest fire is highly unusual in that it occurred in an urban area and not in any wilderness area.

The fire has consumed over 1,600 acres as of last night. Officials hope they can get a handle on the fire with less severe winds, cooler temperatures and several inches of snow scheduled to arrive later today. This map from the New York Times shows the affected area. Colorado Highways 93, 128, 170 and parts of US 36 are closed to traffic.

Wildfire

Wildfire
Photo courtesy of AP

The aerial image below gives you an idea of the scope of the fire area.

Wildfires

As if 2021 hadn’t been exhausting enough with record-breaking COVID cases despite vaccines, we now face a year round fire season. Don’t know about you, but I for one am SO. OVER. 2021.

However you celebrate the New Year, we pray you’ll do it safely. Best wishes from everyone at the Ranch who will probably spend most of the weekend huddled together on the sofa under a thick pile of blankets as single-digit highs arrive tomorrow. Yo Mother Nature…could you please lighten up?

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ December 3, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to this week’s edition of  Nature Friday where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

This week’s nature moment is a bit of a travelogue from last week’s Thanksgiving festivities from my trip with my Dad and brother to see family in the Lone Star state. It was so special seeing everyone after losing mom earlier in the year. One moment however did dampen the holiday when we ‘encountered‘ a deer at dusk in rural Texas. Other than the deer, the only other casualty was Dad’s car but we were thankfully, unscathed (other than frazzled nerves). Getting there was quite the adventure with miles and miles of wide open spaces that were particularly stunning for this here city-slicker.

With miles of driving, taking hours and hours to reach our destination just outside Austin, our route took us through the northern part of New Mexico’s quiet plains. Vistas with plateaus in the distance and flat-to-rolling plains along the highway showed a “Dances With Wolves” landscape. Wide open and unblemished save for the occasional fence post. It made me wonder what was being corralled for no antelope, deer or cattle were spotted as we drove through.

NM

Apart from wide open spaces, miles and miles of cotton fields were encountered once we reached the Panhandle. It was beyond anything I’d ever seen before. Fields of white fluff as far as the eye could see.

Cotton fields
Image courtesy of Flicker, Northwest Texas

Getting to Texas is a long, challenging drive. My first shift behind the wheel was 5 hours long and yet there was still so much farther to go. After my brother hit the deer and made a turn in the wrong direction, we ended up spending the night in Abilene. We arrived at my sister’s the next day.

Pecan

Reaching my sister’s took us through pecan country. These beautiful trees can be seen from roadsides as well as directly in my sister’s neighborhood. The pecan tree, like the fruit of other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut, it’s technically a drupe meaning fruit with a single stone/pit,  surrounded by a husk produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower (the internal structure of the fruit, i.e. its ovaries). The  nut develops from that structure and contains the seed. My sister said they are a ‘messy tree,’ having spent days and days raking up leaves and hulls before we arrived. I was captivated by the large, wide canopy on these trees.

Pecan

In addition to pecans, live oaks (which don’t lose their leaves) were abundant. This one was full of  acorns and filled my head with visions of clever craft projects.

Oak tree

The landscape was not all drab, with this colorful beauty gracing the pool area. “Duranta repens” (a part of the verbena family native from Mexico to South America and the Caribbean) is a flowering ornamental shrub. It’s apparently considered an invasive weed in some areas of Australia but is very striking.

Flowers

Despite warm temps (warm by Colorado standards), Thanksgiving Day was deemed ‘chilly’ in that it only reached the upper 50’s for our traditional family game of football following the tasty meal. There was a brisk wind which, coupled with humidity, made it seem cooler than the numbers might suggest. It struck me how relative perspective played out with each of our interpretations of ‘chilly.’

My canine buddy during the visit was sweet little Miley who decided I was a good auntie and kept me from missing Norman and Elsa too much. A pocket full of tasty treats and belly rubs go a long way.

Miley

Our return trip was uneventful and we powered through 13 1/2 hours of driving in one felled swoop. A long drive buoyed by great memories of a family who enjoys celebrating holidays with one another no matter what the cost. Hopefully we can make another trip down there without time restrictions and really enjoy some of the amazing slices of nature along the way.

Now that we’re in December and many of us are preparing for the next holiday, we hope you’ll be able to sandwich in some time during these hectic days enjoying a quiet moment of pleasure experiencing nature at its best. Have a great weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 15, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we take a look around our urban neighborhood to see what Nature has served up. As always, we’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

Leaves changing colors continues to be hit or miss. One tree will show color while the tree right next to it steadfastly holds on to the green. It’s one of the oddest autumns I’ve ever seen. Earlier in the week, mild warm days graced the Mile High which allowed for extended walks around the ‘Hood.

Trees

So let’s check out this week’s most interesting plant discovered on one of our afternoon walks. I’ve seen these eye-catching plants around before but never knew what they were called until I did some further investigating. Castor bean plants (Ricinus ommunis) are often planted for their striking foliage. Originally native to Ethiopia, the plants are now cultivated throughout the world. Caster bean seeds have been found as far back at 4,000 years ago in ancient Egyptian tombs. The oil obtained from the plant was used to light lamp wicks and is still cultivated as a natural laxative or massage oil. With it’s extremely high fatty acid content, it can be useful for treating dry skin. Caution should be exercised however when planting these striking plants around small children and pets, as the seed pods are extremely poisonous. After looking it up, I was grateful I didn’t touch those seed pods. {shudder}

Castor Beans

Castor bean

Yesterday Mother Nature decided to do a runner and skip town with temperatures plummeting and snow falling in some metro areas (though not in my neighborhood). The nearby mountain ski area, Arapahoe Basin received 14″ of white stuff and will officially open one lift this weekend, bringing a collective hear-hear from Front Range hardcore skiers.

Here in the city, a light freeze from a few showers left a hint of frozen water in the solar bird bath last night but warmer temps will return by Sunday (forecast calls for 75ºF/23ºC). Colorado’s yo-yo weather remains intact.

First Freeze

While I don’t mind temperature changes since Nature has been more than generous with warm temps thus far, it will take some time getting used to juggling two leashes with poop bags while wearing gloves. The dogs seem to not only enjoy the crispness in the air but also the inability of my easily adapting to manage yet one more thing in hand on morning constitutions. Elsa in particular finds these are her best squirrel hunting moments and seems to relish turning me into a kite at the drop of a hat. Stay turned, no doubt there’ll be a good story about me landing on my back side while the dogs enjoy seeing me trying to ‘master’ the art of prestidigitation.

Any plans to get out into Nature this weekend? Whatever you do, we hope you have a ‘pawsome’ outing.

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 21, 2021

Happy TGIF and welcome to another episode of Nature Friday, hosted by our Pacific Northwest fur-iends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on the link to check out what they and others in Blogville shared.

Nature Friday

Having enjoyed more than a few days of life sustaining moisture earlier this week, spring has ramped up its presence. Tulips continue to bloom but other spring bulbs and tubers are now front and center. Alliums, a member of the garlic family, are now blooming and are quite gorgeous. We’ve been encountering many of them along our daily walks. Allium are a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, including cultivated onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives. Did you know allium is the Latin word for garlic? Allium vary in size in the different species, ranging from small (approximately 2–3 mm in diameter) to large (8–10 cm). 

Flowers

Bearded irises have begun blooming too, assuring lovely bouquets for alfresco dining.

Flowers

Even the heavenly-scented lilacs, are beginning to emerge from a long winter sleep.

Flowers

With all the rain we’ve received lately, woodland plants are verdant and beginning to bloom. Lupines and woodruff are some of my favorites.

Flowers

Not all the moisture that’s fallen recently has been rain. It recently has been ‘snowing’ a bit, too.

Flowers

Just kidding, that fallen ‘snow’ is just spent blossoms. Had you going there for a second, didn’t I?

It seems warmer and drier weather is in the foreseeable future and will be welcomed. Yesterday was a day of R&R enjoying the landscape while visiting my dad in southeast Colorado.

We hope you enjoy your weekend but don’t forget to use some sunscreen. Or you could spend outdoor time under an umbrella like I did yesterday. Either way, we hope any time is spent outside enjoying nature is ‘wagnificent.’

Sunny days

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 7, 2021

Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our ‘fur-iends’ from Adventures of the LLB Gang. Mother Nature has been all over the map this week. It’s been a bit of a typically weird Springtime in the Rockies kind of week weather-wise.

As I drove back from my parents house in southern Colorado, a large wet weather front hit pretty much most of the state but especially along the I-25 corridor. Monument Pass (just north of Colorado Springs) received several inches of white stuff. Luckily the roads weren’t too slippery but with nearly 15 miles of road construction, it was a slow, sad slog home.

Nature

While I was in Pueblo, Norman and I took occasional walks around the chaparral near my parent’s house. There are lots of ancient pinyon and cedar trees, some a few hundred years old. Norman wasn’t particularly interested in their history, only the crossing trails of bunny scents.

Norman

While snow this time of year is not unusual in the state, a couple of days of rain are (we’re more likely to receive snow than rain). The rain has refreshed the landscape, washed off the dust and grime of the city and brightened everything as Spring moves forward. The tulips have been extra gorgeous this year.

Flowers

After a few days of rain and cold, Colorado’s bluebird skies and sunny conditions returned. They made for a great background for the now flowering crabapple trees yesterday.

Trees

The yo-yo temperatures will continue today, likely reaching 81ºF. That said, the forecast for early next week once again includes snow, keeping the past few years of history intact around Mother’s Day, with snow in the Mile High. If you don’t like the current weather, just wait 10 minutes because it will no doubt change to something you may enjoy.

Whatever is your jam, we hope you have a lovely weekend and you’re able to share some of nature’s beauty with Happy Mother’s Day wishes to all moms, whether your kid has two or four legs (or wings).

Live, love, bark! 🐾