Showing posts from July, 2012

The Awesome Walrus - Search for the Golden Fish

The Awesome Walrus Guest post by Theo Miller It was the frosty winter of 2006 and snow was falling from the Northeast. A sudden flash of light came from behind me, then everything went black. When I awoke, I thought I was back home, but there was no wind, frost or even snow on the ground. When I turned around, I realized what happened to the snow... There was a 25 foot tall, glass window and people were watching me. There were little kids, old kids, smelly kids and teenagers taunting me. The parents were on their phones not aware that kids were dangling themselves over the wall, almost falling into my habitat. It looked like I was going to have the same day for the rest of my life. One day a child got pushed into my enclosure. I brought him to the glass wall and showed his mom. I climbed a rock and gave him to his mother. That was the right thing to do until I realized I was out of my pen. Now the chase was on! The Zoo Crew chased me to the San Diego beach. I used my swimm

The Great Sand Dunes - A Surreal Landscape

The Great Sand Dunes Earlier this summer, curiosity propelled us to go investigate The Great Sand Dunes National Park. On the way there, I was struck by the desolation of the high desert region known as the San Luis Valley. The dunes first appear as a small, pink band sprawling out humbly beneath the jagged, blue peaks of the impressive Crestone Needles. Not until you arrive at Medano Creek do the tallest sand dunes in North America begin to flex their muscle. It's a surreal landscape and the sheer scale of the dunes is breathtaking. It took more than 400,000 years for nature to sculpt this masterpiece. Water, wind and sand are the ingredients of a process that continues to this day. Sand from the river flood plain are picked up by strong, westerly winds. The tiny particles are deposited in a pile against the foothills. Zebulon Pike is credited with the first written account of the dunes. In 1807 he wrote, "Their appearance was exactly that of the sea in a storm, except

Troublesome Creek - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Troublesome Creek" Colored Pencil After a storm blankets Noble Meadow with fresh snow, Troublesome Creek is swollen with spring runoff. Normally this gulch is parched but now the proud, little creek rushes down into Buchanan Ponds. The diffused light neutralizes the colors but this time of year even the snowy landscape can be expressed with warm hues. In March we get milder temperatures but more extreme snowfall amounts. The snow seems to come every day and the wind screams down through this draw making it an inhospitable place. A person can get the local weather forecast by gazing up into Squaw Pass. If Squaw Mountain gradually disappears into dense clouds that is a sure sign moisture is on the way. This unassuming meadow is teeming with wildlife. Some of the more notable, local inhabitants include Elk, Mule Deer, Yellow-Bellied Marmot, American Kestrel, Great Horned Owl and Garter Snake. Near the ponds I've seen a Turkey Vulture, Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, S

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake - A Beautiful Creature

Western Terrestrial Garter Snake I have a fear of heights, but I love to climb mountains. I'm scared of snakes, but I will eagerly handle them. A few days ago while hiking the shoreline of a small mountain lake, we encountered a Western Terrestrial Garter Snake. My first reaction was to recoil in fear. Surprised to see a snake at this elevation, we cautiously observed the reptile for a little bit. He was about two feet long and a striking yellow-gray in color with dark patterns. He appeared fairly harmless. Modern symbolic traditions tend to stress the negative role of the snake - like the fear inducing danger of it's venomous bite. As a teenager in Western Nebraska working on a cattle ranch, we were under direct orders to kill any rattlesnake seen near the homeplace. That's something I couldn't do today. Older legends and myths, however, often include mysterious, positive traits of the snake. The snake is often associated with healing and reincarnation. Nati

Impression Evergreen - Colored Pencil Drawing

"Impression Evergreen" Colored Pencil An impression of peace and calm. Heaven blends into the earth on a late fall afternoon. The distinct contour of Bergen Peak melts away into the background while elk graze in the foreground. The scene is described by cool, gray tones and soft, feathered edges. The aspen leaves have fallen to the ground and the bluebirds have flown to the south. The air is cold and crisp. This is the way nature tells us winter is coming. I love this time of year because the trails are void of human activity yet the mountains are full of life. If I listen closely, I can hear chickadees and nuthatches chirping in the forest. If I keep my eyes open, I might see a humble mountain cottontail quietly staying close to the rocks. A confident red-tailed hawk intensely gazing from a snag or playful Abert's squirrels happily chasing each other up and down the ponderosa pines. Maybe I'll see a shy red fox easily leaping across the creek. A nervous mule d