The Things We See

To my faithful readers - I am very sorry. I am WAY behind on blog posts. I have had a combined problem - a laptop on its last leg and more work than I know what to do with. Both ended up for the good - lots of work translates into enough extra income to buy a new and improved laptop. So, my best intentions include returning to weekly posts!

One of the most common questions we hear from guests is, "Where and when is the best time to view wildlife?" Of course this is a perfectly logical question since most of our visitors are here to enjoy the natural beauty, abundant wildlife, and incomparable serenity in which the Centennial Valley specializes.

However, I was pondering this question as I enjoyed a rare walk a few mornings back. This time of year is not the 'best' wildlife viewing time. At least not if you are hunting a glimpse of big game - which most folks are. However, I still found myself stopping, stooping, and speculating over the things I was seeing. From my speculations on this hike came the fodder for this post.

Early summer and late fall can offer incredible and abundant wildlife viewing opportunities, especially to those willing to search quietly and diligently. However, these seasons only make up a fraction of the time we spend in the valley. Nonetheless, I never find myself bored on my hikes. Why? It certainly is not because I always see wildlife or even something most folks would even notice.

What keeps me intrigued and makes each hike an adventure is the ever changing world through which I trek. It often is not the BIG things or even the things most would consider 'noteworthy'. In fact, if I shared everything I find intriguing about the world around me, some of you would probably think the summer heat had gone to my head!

But, I'm not the only one who sees value in what is often overlooked. There are the wildflowers, of course. But why limit it to flowers? What about the trees and the grass and the 'weeds'? Each one has its own life story to tell if we are willing to watch.

But, why stop there? There are the tracks. Even when the ground has turned hard and dry, there is usually some sign of what has passed through the area before us. And, it doesn't take a well-trained tracker to learn to watch. In fact, it doesn't even necessarily require you to walk. My hubby ran across a black bear sow and cub's (little tracks - must be a first cub) tracks while riding his motorcycle up the road toward Hidden Lake.

But, that is not all. What about scat? Scat? What is scat? To put it bluntly - poop! I learned a lot about the fox who spent the winter in our vicinity just from their tracks and scat on and along my ski trails. Of course I'm not the only one to have decided 'poop' is worth looking at. Some creative person has written an interesting (and informative) little book, "Who Pooped In The Park?" based on the Yellowstone area.

Then there are the birds which, I think, are overlooked by many because they are too 'common' in our world. Yet I get as much pleasure from the common House Wren singing outside my bedroom window as I do from glimpsing most of the wildlife I see on my hikes.

Wait, that is not all! This time of year there are the butterflies. I have been told butterflies are a sign of a healthy eco-system. Whether or not this is true, they certainly add color and variety and offer learning opportunities as I hike. But, don't stop there! Even the insects are interesting, although, not to worry, I'm still not a bug enthusiast. (NOTE: The gorgeous Dragonfly photo above is courtesy of David Slaughter, one of our wonderful repeat guests - and a very talented photographer.)

All this to suggest we often miss more than we see when we hike. So, next time you take a walk, regardless of where you are, take a closer look around. Even non-mobile objects like rocks and trees and ridgelines offer learning opportunities if we are but willing to look.

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