The sun greets me as a giant red ball hanging in the east. We have had such a bad fire season this summer I am afraid there is yet another fire somewhere along the Front Range whose smoke is causing this change in sunrise color.
The day slowly fills with Peter rabbit joining me for breakfast as we listen to moose grunts down in the willows. I catch glimpses of a bull and cow slowly making their way to the beaver ponds. Camera and coffee in hand I start that way also, checking behind me for that sneaky cow and her calf as I walk. I’m just a little tired of being startled by large goofy looking ungulates that despite their calm demeanor I know can be very dangerous.
With all the photos I have of moose this is the first chance I have of seeing them in the water. To my surprise I discover that this is yet another bull. Evidenced by the difference in his rack. Assuming that all the cows I’ve seen are the same two— I’ve been unable to determine a difference in the females—we are now up to three bulls, two cows, and a calf. I feel like I’ve been dropped in the middle of moose grand central.
The number of visitors on horse and donkey go up today. Looking around at one point I can count three groups for a total of eight equines just in the DeLonde homestead area. It feels natural to have them milling about and I am quick to get down there with the camera. I am especially taken with the donkey named Buster.
This last full day of residency has a sense of sadness knowing I have to go back to reality tomorrow and yet eager anticipation to get in the studio and start creating. I spend plenty of time in front of the barn reflecting on the last week. As I’m counting up the animals I’ve seen while here another pops his head up . . . a mole. The field around our house on Sugarloaf was riddled with mole tunnels despite dad’s determined trapping. But I have never actually watched the excavation of a tunnel in progress, and I’m fascinated by the addition of dirt at the entrance and how carefully it is compacted. Try as I might the mole never pokes his head above the mound of dirt long enough for me to get a photo of him.
The week is capped off with the return of the elk to the upper meadow. There is much bugling that goes on all night long. I wake often during the night and listen to nature’s lullaby then drift back to sleep.
It’s 4:15 am. My heart is racing, I feel panicked and disoriented, and then it comes to me . . . I’m listening to the Open Space cell phone ringing. By the time I am untangled from the sleeping bag it has stopped.
Welcome back to the real world.