While we struggle to maintain some sense of normalcy, nature is thriving evidenced by cleaner air, clearer water, active wildlife and bountiful birds. This spring, trails leading into the backcountry are deserted so the environment is healing at a noticeably accelerated pace.
Shackled by a strict quarantine, I spend my mornings traipsing through Elk Meadow with a camera slung over my shoulder before sheltering in place the rest of the day. The daily routine begins in a spacious meadow and expands gradually into a lively woodland.
Some days are more photogenic than others but in general there has been a plethora of engaging creatures. Right at the forest’s edge is where most of the action occurs because the animals can easily withdraw into the nearby safe haven.
Elk and mule deer graze out in the open on shoots of new grass while up in the ponderosa pine trees, red and Abert’s squirrels scamper from branch to branch. One morning I crossed paths with a curious coyote which was remarkable because they're not normally seen in broad daylight.
A diverse variety of bird species are building nests and I’ve been thrilled to see juncos, jays, nuthatches, chickadees, flickers, robins, sparrows and a Say’s phoebe. Down in the valley proper, in the shadow of big peaks, red-tailed hawks soar over a vast grassland that supports a profusion of bluebirds and meadowlarks.
Over the last few weeks, bulbous clouds have unleashed a stream of unpredictable weather ranging from fierce blizzards to torrential rainfall to searing heat. Mostly this difficult time has been an excruciating season of hope, inspiring a spirit of rebirth and new growth.
We have learned a great deal during the prolonged hiatus and a positive result from this unusual experience is that we can apply an enlightened perspective to starting over. I believe the population will eventually recover from this devastating disease but our society will never be the same.
|Mule deer at the forest's edge|
|Rocky Mountain elk|
|Rocky Mountain elk|
|Western terrestrial garter snake|
|Red-winged blackbird female|