Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mission: Nothing

Text: Trina
Photos: Trina and Greg

Setting goals that are within reach, that are achievable without an inordinate amount of hardship is a key component of success. We had that in mind when we set out this weekend without bikes to find a quiet, remote place, preferably by a river, where we aimed to just sit with books, maybe read, maybe not, maybe just watch the water roll past, maybe play a little travel Scrabble, where we could watch idly as spring revs up, where the dogs could hopefully entertain themselves, where we could do pretty much nothing.

Mission Accomplished!

All around our chosen riverside domain, the cottonwoods were in various stages of bloom, from just-starting-to-flower

to flowers-raining-from-the-trees (aided by goldfinches knocking them loose in a feeding frenzy) landing on the ground with light thuds all around us, quite disturbing the peace and quiet.

Lovely shrubs and plants for which we know not names were blooming.

Spring gusts kicked up dirt devils and sent this ladybug tumbling arse over teakettle into the dirt the moment she lifted her wings for flight.

Last year's willow flower, or ... *gasp* ... willow cone gall???

It's when you sit still that you notice little things that you would just blast by, maybe even crush underfoot, if moving at a faster pace.

Steel blue cricket hunter (Chlorion aerarium) just entering its cow-poop-roofed den.

A male Phidippus johnsoni, or red-backed jumping spider. (The female has a black stripe down the middle of her red abdomen.)

We did actually muster the motivation for a slow, late afternoon amble along the river bank,

crossing a couple of side drainages

where muddy run off trickled in to mingle with the somewhat less muddy river,

and the evidence of salt leeching to the surface was made visible in intriguing ways.

Pinecone with salt

Fossilized dinosaur eggs. A whole nest of them. Obviously.

Evidence of others having passed this way.

The dogs did find various ways to entertain themselves, sometimes to our great alarm. When I was a teenager I volunteered for a semester in a preschool for developmentally disabled children. These were severe cases, each child requiring one-on-one aid at all times. One boy with some sort of extreme ADHD, if left unattended for even half a blink of an eye, would scale bookcases and be dangling from the ceiling by the time you completed the blink. I flashed back to that experience on this outing when I turned to see why I was hearing the sounds of toenails on tree bark and discovered Zeek and Sprocket 20 feet up a cottonwood. Perhaps this is the downside to the confidence-building aspect of agility class.

Fortunately, most of their exploits were lower in elevation and risk factor, and we can report a successful outing free of trips to the emergency vet clinic.

By evening, the spring winds had turned to ghastly gusts bringing a storm in their wake. We blew out, and headed home before we ended up like the last people who stayed in this canyon in a storm: nothing but whitewashed bones scattered about by spring runoff.

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