A Cloudy Day

Sometimes grey is just the right color for a day. I’m grateful for a cloudy day with scattered snow showers and mist. Wren, Topaz and I enjoyed a break from work with a mid-afternoon walk up the driveway.

Where’s Wren?

Minutes after we got back inside, the dark clouds opened and snow pelted down for a few minutes, but overall only an inch or so fell here. In the mountains, though, a wealth of snow to replenish the reservoirs. I’m grateful for a cloudy day.

Crawford State Park

I’ve camped in a lot of state parks across the country over the years, and found them to be reliably clean, safe, and interesting; sometimes surprising and gorgeous. I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to see so many natural gems in so many states. And I’m grateful that one of Colorado’s state parks is just a ten minute drive from my house.

I’m grateful to have known the man whose vision led to the first trail in this park, John Barcus. He worked hard as a volunteer to get the first leg of the trail built. The most recent leg is still under construction, but in the past few years the trail has been extended from the main parking lot on the peninsula, through both campgrounds, and all the way around the south end to join the west shore day use area.

Wren and I got our Colorado State Parks pass yesterday and took our first walk on the trail, from the Peninsula to Clear Fork Campground and back, close to a mile altogether. We’d been meaning to do it all year! But finally the time was right. I’m grateful to the state for offering an amazing deal on a parks pass: When you renew your car registration online, you get the option to purchase a Keep Colorado Wild pass for $29 instead of the regular parks pass for $80.

We were greeted at the entrance window by a cheerful neighbor who first gave Wren some cookies, then put the registration in a little red envelope to set in the window for access to any state park, no decal necessary. What a deal! Then we set off down the trail. It was a perfect, mild fall day. I had to stop every ten feet the whole way so Wren could sniff and pee.

I was grateful for the level, easy trail; for the views of the lake, the dam, the mountains, and a gaggle of Canada geese; and I was grateful for the little bench under the tiny juniper. I was grateful to see so much water left in the reservoir at the end of the irrigation season. In recent years it’s been nearly dry by this time of year.

It felt so good to walk an easy trail out in the sun that we went back today, and walked another bit from Iron Creek campground around the south end until we hit thick, untamped gravel that I didn’t want to wobble through. I was ready to turn back anyway.

At the very south end of the trail we crossed a bridge strong enough to contain a herd of bison, which seemed like a bit of overkill, but I’m sure they had their reasons.. The railing was as tall as my forehead and I had to rest my phone on top to get a picture.

The views from the west side are even more beautiful than those on the east side, with the West Elk Mountains beyond burnished grasses, rushes, thickets, and spent milkweed pods. I’m grateful for easy, affordable access to the new trail around Crawford State Park.

A Happy Outcome

Garden season is winding down, the roller coaster crawling toward a full stop. Before the first freeze next week, I got in another couple of types of garlic, with gratitude to Ellie for sharing some local organic bulbs of two hardneck red varieties, Russian and Vietnamese. I now have two full beds planted with garlic, and I can tell the softnecks I planted a few weeks ago have rooted because they are sending up little green shoots. Between Friday and Monday nights upcoming, low temps are forecast to drop from 40 to 21℉. That will put an end to the remaining scarlet salvias, zinnias, and calendulas still blooming. I’m grateful they’ve held on for so long. And grateful to get the last garlic and some more tulips in the ground today.

Go figure: I transplanted these cauliflowers back in the spring and they stayed tiny for months before finally starting to grow good leaves, which were devoured by grasshoppers even as they grew. I held little hope for them ever making fruit, but left them in the ground all summer as grasshopper bait hoping they’d leave some of my other plants alone. They eventually devoured the leek and onion green tops leaving me next-to-nothing there, but still I left the cauliflowers in the ground. Lo and behold, at last they are making heads, albeit tiny. I wonder if they’ll survive sub-freezing nights, or if I’ll harvest these tiny heads this weekend.

I’m grateful for a next-to-last lunch outside with one of the last little tomatoes, leftover coleslaw, smoked gouda, and toast, along with falling golden birch leaves and the first volume of The Rain Wild Chronicles. I’m also grateful for some meaningful meditations, meetings, and conversations today.

I think I’m most grateful today for a happy outcome for this little dark-eyed junco who crashed into a window this afternoon. I heard the thump, dropped what I was doing, and went to the back door, where I was dismayed to see Topaz with the bird in her mouth. As I opened the door she set it down and walked inside! What a good kitty!

I picked up the bird who had no apparent damage but was limp with an open beak. I dripped a couple of drops of water into its mouth, and carried it to a secure fork in the chokecherry tree, where it was able to grip and rest. Not long after, I looked out the window and saw it was gone, so I walked out to look around and make sure it hadn’t simply fallen. It had recovered and flown away! A large flock of these little birds has been hanging around for a couple of weeks; or maybe there are multiple flocks migrating through. Three have hit a window in the past week, with one fatality; that’s more birds hitting windows here than over the past entire year or more, so I tend to think they are migrating through and are unfamiliar with the lay of the yarden. I added another visual barrier to the large window, and hope that’s the last accident for a long time.

A Morning Stroll

I’m grateful to be getting back into a good habit after too long away from it: a morning stroll in the woods. Today I strolled with my two little companions, aimless on various trails. We took a couple of breaks to sit on some logs, and I got reacquainted with some tree friends. It’s so different without big dogs, but I’m getting used to it.

Wren watches Topaz watching something.

Our Visible Universe

I’m grateful today that I got to make Fried Artichoke Sandwiches for Boyz Lunch. The recipe came to my attention a couple of months ago, but it wasn’t until this week that I had (almost) all the ingredients to make it. There was no organic red cabbage, so I substituted green; and there were no more dill pickle slices in the pantry, so I used dill pickle relish. The overall effect was, I assume, essentially what was intended. I was grateful, as always, to have the right tools for the job, notably the Fry Baby to deep fry the battered artichoke hearts. I served the sandwiches with smashed, roasted potatoes. It was a simple lunch, and so delicious that the Boyz put it on their short list and said I could make it again any time. If I only had an actual short list, it would include several dozen ‘Top Five’!

The slaw is made with vegan jalapeño-ranch dressing, but I just used regular mayo, Penzeys ranch seasoning, and one pickled jalapeño, along with the fresh lime juice.
It certainly fulfilled my craving for a fried fish sandwich; all I really wanted was the crunchy, light ‘meat’ and the drippy coleslaw. The artichoke flavor was a bonus. Life’s simple pleasures!
Dessert was easy: one giant Trail Mix cookie for each of us. It was a perfect fall day, with perfect weather, great food, and wonderful company.

Later, after lunch, cleanup, and a work meeting, Wren and I sat by the pond and read a little more of our gripping nine-hundred-page novel, the third in The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb. I’m grateful for the luxury of being able to toggle between the fantasy world of a novel, and the real world of my back yard which is just as amazing. Tonight we sat outside for half an hour under a blanket watching for shooting stars of the Orionid meteor shower. We only saw one before it got too chilly, but I was grateful to know about this celestial event and to spend some quiet time under the indifferent immensity of our visible universe.


I’m grateful that I got the new Covid vaccine today at the Safeway pharmacy and am now better protected from potential infection, hospitalization, or death from this virus. I know I’ll probably pay for this protection for a day or two with fatigue and soreness, but I’ll take that any day over lung damage and the possibility of another longterm virus. I’m grateful, too, when I look out over this beautiful little canyon, that I was able to offer it some protection as well, when I put the portion under my stewardship into a conservation easement in 2006.

Wren surveys her domain. She may get shivers being that close to the edge on that ledge, but I get shivers when I look over it at the landscape that landed me here. I first saw this canyon in summer and fell in love with it, then bought it that winter; over time I was able to preserve it for wildlife in perpetuity. I wish I could protect the entire length of it, but I’m grateful I could at least protect the middle third. Over the years I’ve seen deer, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, bears, and mountain lions in and along the canyon, as well as a few stray dogs and a couple of lost humans. I’ve seen it in drought and in flood and in ice. The past couple of years, since the big dogs died, I haven’t spent as much time down here as I used to, but this morning the shivers reminded me what a remarkable blessing it is, and I hope Wren will drag me down here more often this autumn.

Fall Day

I’m grateful for waking up alive on another beautiful fall day, savoring coffee on the patio as potential days to do so decrease.

I’m grateful for two days worth of harvest putting the garden to bed; it could freeze tonight or come too close for comfort for the peppers, so I brought them all in: two types of paprika peppers, Fresnos, jalapeños, and the last little blot pepper.

Where’s Wren?

And grateful after a busy day for a lovely walk up the driveway with Wren and Topaz, in the golden grasses and rabbitbrush, with decorative clouds, and a mountain bluebird hopping fenceposts ahead of us. We heard our first sandhill cranes overhead on the way back downhill.


I’m so grateful for colors! My life is full of them. No blank white walls in this house. Everywhere I look, inside and out, colors and more colors. I’m grateful for my friend who introduced me to a new word when she described herself as ‘a colorist’ — and I’m grateful for her wonderful blog where she shares the colors of the world when she travels.

Continuing to enjoy the puzzle ‘Canoe of Fate’ today in between work work, housework, and yard work. Here are some more details of whimsy pieces and images. Note the deer pieces making up the wolf image, and the wolf whimsy piece upside down right above it.

Six feathers above, and one of them in place in the feather headdress below.

More whimsy in the garden, and the birch tree turning yellow with pendulous catkins, flowers that will hang on until they open in spring and release their pollen. As I sat outside for a few minutes this afternoon, soaking in all the colors, I thought of a painter I admire whom I haven’t spoken with in a long time, so I looked up her number and called her out of the blue. “What a lovely surprise!” she exclaimed, and I was grateful to have an easy, happy phone call reconnecting with her.

Liberty Puzzle’s designer had to have had Peter Pan in mind when he drew this lovely little piece. As for what Roy de Forest had in mind with the faces below, who knows?

I saved these two figures for near the end because I love the color bubbles in them, and it was fun to find their hands touching in dance when they fit together.

They ended up fitting into the top edge and so hang upside down in their dance. I really enjoy that moment when two large sections I’ve been working independently suddenly show how they connect, when they’ve been building right next to each other for hours. The star below brings together the dancers and the canoeist.

Losing Growths

Grateful for a quiet day, for groceries, and for seeing this handsome buck in the yard. Looks like he’s dropped some of those awful growths, with only a couple remaining and not bad scars. I’m grateful for losing growths!

Fun with Birds

Morning coffee has gotten very exciting recently with all the bird action. A Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay flies from the Gamble Oak with an acorn as a hummingbird sits serenely in the next tree. The young oak is another beneficiary of the wet winter/spring, and consequently also the jays.

Lots of young hummingbirds zipping around the yarden now, sipping from the prairie salvia…

…the red salvia

…the purple whatever it is in this pot…

These hummingbirds are all juveniles and/or females so I can’t say which species any of them are. It’s hard to catch two in one frame when they chase each other away from nectar, but that’s my project for coffee time this week. I’m surprised I haven’t seen any males the past few days, but maybe this happens every year and I just noticed it this time. Maybe the males leave town early. I’m grateful for fun with birds on this first morning that feels like autumn.