Thursday, March 18, 2010

waiting for spring

Up at the ranch last weekend, I took some pictures, quick, before spring springs. I love the way its winter-bare bones look. Before the cottonwoods and willows leaf out, the view goes further up the river and deeper into the trees. It's always a peaceful place, but for this moment before the trees and the river fill up with birds and critters, it seems suspended in a quiet waiting. When the snow melts and higher water comes to the river, everything living thing follows, and life gets loud.

The ranch is right at the foot of the mountains and is surrounded by protected land. Wildlife enjoys that protection and is abundant. Everybody's there and everybody's welcome. Some are shy, and some have no shame. For example, this very impressive 16-inch pile of plum pits begs the ago-old question, "Does a bear shit in the woods?" 

The answer is, "No, he shits anywhere he wants to, including in our yard." 

Here are some observations: 1) this scat is old and has had all winter to decompose, meaning it was much bigger last fall and its producer is a big bear, and 2) the white tape is the high-voltage electric fence. It's about four feet off the ground and packs enough of a wallop to keep the one-ton cows and their piles away from the house. It didn't seem to impress the bear at all. I mean, did he even notice it?

Now that spring is here, that big ol' bear is waking up. 
He'll be back.  


Jala Pfaff said...

Great photos. They also look like pastel paintings waiting to happen...
Those musta been some tasty plums. Or perhaps unripe ones.

SamArtDog said...

No, Mama Bear; the plums were ripe. Ripe enough for pre-hibernation gluttony.

Melinda said...

Thank you for sharing these photos. I do see them asking you to paint from them as Jala suggested.

And, the bear scat...Hmmm. Reminds me of the time I was camping and a family of four bears moved through the campsite. Yup. They own the place.

SamArtDog said...

Four bears? I assume that's counting the mother-in-law.

Janelle Goodwin said...

Hilarious post! Thanks for the chuckle!

Melinda said...

Yes, truly...four bears. We talked to the rangers later and they said that they'd been in forestry for twenty years and had never seen that many together. Greaaat, we said.

We assume it was mama, two small cubs and one teen not quite ready to leave the brood. Mother-in-law. I like that. It was like watching a very powerful pod of whales move through. We could only tremble and watch.

We had dusty paw prints on our car windows and a small tear in the tent from a gentle and curious nudge.

Hope you're working on more pastels!

SamArtDog said...

A tear from a nudge? Or are you just being nice? Mama bears tend to be pretty crabby.

Yes, I'm pasteling and trying not to notice the 8 inches of snow that's fallen since morning. Good ol' springtime in the Rockies.

Melinda said...

No, really, a small rip next to my husband's backside as we all slept. He heard the snuffling. We all quickly centered ourselves in the tent. No one made a sound, including our wise and beloved shepherd/doberman mix. We were afraid to breathe. However, ever the curious one, I unzipped the tent door and watched as they tipped over the pots and pans, rummaged around and peered into our vehicle where the cooler was stored.

Thanks to Girl Scout rules, I do not allow food, soap, toothpaste or anything really, that has a food-like odor. Even though I was a rebel in the scouts, they liked me because I always dug the latrines.

Fun story, eh? Glad I'm here to tell you.

Yay! I'm glad you're working. It's a gray day here--maybe rain. Wish we could have some snow.

Karen said...

The ranch looks like a beautiful place...maybe a bit scary because of the bears though?? Funny to think of how he didn't care at all about the fence!

SamArtDog said...

The bears generally only show up in the fall to eat the wild plums. By the ton. Then they go where they go to crash for 6 months. We should set up a BearCam to watch them ignore the voltage.