Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Morning Walk...

Debbie and I have been regularly walking up the hill alongside our home, almost always early in the morning (so it's not too hot).  It's great physical therapy for her, still recovering from her broken knee.  The chaparral can be very beautiful, and this morning's walk provided a couple examples.

But before we started this morning's walk, I caught our old girl (Lea) asleep on the couch.  At the ancient age of 16 (particularly old for a field spaniel), she spends most of her days in approximately this position.  It takes her a few minutes of movement before her joints work freely, and she doesn't play very often any more.  But every once in a while, she surprises us – as she did last night with me.  I had a Milk Bone for her, and when I held it up out of easy reach, up she went on her two hind legs, as if she was still a puppy!  I gave her an extra Milk Bone after that :)

This morning we took Mo'i along on our walk.  He's 14 – not far behind Lea – but still going strong.  He can easily make the 3 mile round trip walk with us...but by the time we get home, he's visibly dragging a bit.  It's easy to see how much he enjoys these walks.  This morning he was actually pulling me out the front gate, something he rarely does (he's always “lunking” alongside us as we walk, not straining at the leash like Miki or Race).

At left are the seeds of the mountain mahogany (a Cercocarpus, but which one I'm not certain).  Most of the year this is a scruffy looking chaparral shrub, notable mainly because the deer love to eat its leaves.  But for a few weeks in late spring, its hairy, fuzzy seeds put on a beautiful show, especially when back-lit.  This morning, as we looked to the east with the sun just over the horizon, we could see thousands of these mountain mahogany shrubs lit up in the valley below us and on the surrounding hillsides.

At right is the scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale), a chaparral native that is particularly beautiful this year (we presume because of the early rains).  I counted 24 plants in bloom along a 1.5 mile stretch of road (they love road cuts and the edges of open, rocky areas), easily double the density I've ever seen before.

It was a very pleasant walk.

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