Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Into the woods...

Autumn leavesTen years ago, if you asked me what my favorite time of year is, my reply would be simple.  Summer.  The warmth, the fun, the activities, the clothes.  Carefree days basking in the sun, filled with family, friends, and food.  Nothing better.  Can't be beat.

That was then...this is now.  Summer is great, but give me a beautiful autumn day filled with the warmth of a color kaleidoscope provided by nature and I am in heaven.  Why the shift?  Who knows.  Time...maybe.  But I love fall.  Summer too, for it will always hold a special place in my heart, but whether you call it fall or autumn, this is my favorite time of year.  Especially in the mountains.

Friday night Sam and I headed up to our place in the mountains.  After a stress filled week (for me anyway), we were both looking forward to some down time at the cabin.  With less than 15 miles to go, I knew we were in for a very special weekend.  It started off with a spectacular sunset treat...a jaw dropping vision of beauty that no camera can really ever capture.  Even now, this photograph does not do the moment justice.  Oh, it was beautiful, and I felt blessed to have witnessed it.

Sunset valley

Around each bend in the road, a surprise waited.  We saw more deer on this drive than we have seen in many years.  They were everywhere, eating in fields, standing along side the road, leaping over fences with their silent grace.  It was good to see their numbers; for too many years our drives to and from the cabin have been lacking this very sight.  I was getting worried, concerned about what appeared to be a sudden decline in the population.  Don't know where they have been hiding, but they were a most welcome sight for these sore eyes.

Early Saturday morning we took a walk, and toward the end we heard an elk bugle, a sound I've never heard in the wild before.  A few minutes later we came across another cabin owner, also out for a morning walk; he'd heard the bugle as well.  Excitement stirred the crisp morning air as we continued, and within minutes we saw them--a small herd of elk.  First, a cow elk ran across the path a few hundred yards ahead.  Then, a movement in the distance caught my eye; we stopped walking and listened.  And inhaled that telltale, pungent elk scent.  A flash of brown crossed our path again and we spotted several more cows with two small calves dashing between the trees. 
Morning light.We walked on, chatting with even more excitement at seeing elk again.  Like the deer, the elk populations have been scarce for several years.  The sight of these cows, and their calves, brought relief.  We reached the bottom of the draw, the place where the elk had been, and a spike bull stepped into view a few hundred feet away.  Armed with my camera I tried, in vain, to get a clear shot of the bull.  But he was much too high-strung and would not stand still; not when there were several cows nearby.  It is after all, the beginning of the 'rut'...the breeding season, and bull elk have only one thing on their mind.  Standing still for an amateur shutterbug like me is not at the top of their "To Do" list.  We returned to the cabin, our steps light, our smiles wide; what a morning.

But the day was just getting started.  I learned some new things aboutSam on the roof my husband; I've always known he has an amazing sense of balance.  And Saturday I watched him climb up on a neighbor's roof to help finish roofing a new addition.  I've seen him up on roofs before; at home as he cleans the rain gutters out each fall, and several years ago when he built our cabin.  He just gets up there, without hesitation it seems and gets right to work, while I stand on the ground, saying a silent prayer for safety.  With the tin securely attached to the roof on the outside, the guys moved inside to install the stove pipe for the wood stove.  Bill propped a ladder up against the trusses and climbed to the top with the pipe, followed a short time later by my husband, who just shimmied up the ladder and, with the agility of a monkey, positioned himself within the truss framework to help with the stove pipe.  Sam up in the raftersDid I mention that he is 50 years old?  Watching him from the safety of the ground, I was amazed by the ease with which he moved, suspended some 17 feet in the air.  No net, no safety harness, no rope.  He still amazes me.  And when all was said and done, after the task was finished and he stood by my side I had to ask him if he climbed many trees as a child.  His answer, of course, was a simple yes.  Lots of trees, apparently.

Saturday night we joined our friends for a wonderful feast, followed by a moonlight ATV ride in which we saw another cow elk, and a huge bull elk.   Late night rides are a mixed bag for me; on the one hand I love the feel of the brisk night air on my cheeks as we ride, but on the other hand it is so dark and there's no telling what is out there.  Bears, cougars...it is the woods after all.  For the most part, the noise of the machines does a lot to scare off the animals, and the guys do arm themselves, just in case.  Maybe it's just the makings of my overactive imagination, but night rides are a bit scary.  I love them, but I love the sense of relief I feel walking back into the cabin afterwards, more.

Buck printSam and I went on another walk Sunday morning.  Early on we saw the white flash of a couple of white-tail deer, but that's all.  Saw plenty of tracks.  Elk, deer, coyote, wolf.  Lots of tracks, such as the one made by a large buck, complete with dew claws.

Like all weekends, this one ended too soon for me.  There was much to see, smell and experience, and as we reached the highway that would take us home, an unusual sight caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a parachuter, then a hang-glider...can't recall what they are called but I was able to catch its slow ascent back to earth.  Just as it hit the airport runway, my view was blocked by dozens of trees.  I really wanted to get a shot of the landing, but was 'foiled' by nature.  Ah well.  It was a special treat and a wonderful way to close a really great weekend.

Flying home


~~Courage is what gets us to the other side.~~

~~Birds sing after a storm.  Why shouldn't we feel as free to delight in whatever light we can find?  -Rose Kennedy~~


pixiedustnme said...

It looks gorgeous (and what the heck was he thinking up there!)  Princess had to write a little note for school about why she loves fall and she wrote "I love fall because it looks like a ranebowe hit the grounde"  How cute is that?!

boiseladie said...

Beautiful photos and a wonderful weekend!

thinkingoutloud said...

P.S. I love the pics!

thinkingoutloud said...

There is nothing like the woods and mountains and nature being right there 24/7.

My husband and I are building a cabin in the woods. It's been going on(construction) for over a year now. I hope they finish by the year end.

I can't wait to be able to go the mountains and stay in my own place.

WE are a lucky bunch :)


karebear4x4 said...

your entry was like i was there...~kbear

justaname4me2 said...

Gorgeous pictures. I'm with you, there was a time I was all about summers. But now, give me a cool Fall breeze or the hint of a Spring warmth and I'm loving it. Your hubby must have been born without the 'scared of heights gene' I think thats pretty amazing. Most of us would look down 10 times and freeze from fright!
Enjoy this fall, it's a beautiful one.

labdancer51 said...

Great photos Dona, but the first one is stunning!  How nice that you have a place in the mountains, that would be ideal for me and hubby as we love wildlife and nature. :-)

Sandra xxxx

robinngabster said...

Nature is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.  I could live outdoors!!!

deveil said...

what a beautiful entry.  Wonderful shots, I love that sunset too!