April & May 2022 Highlights

A double rainbow over Horse Butte.

I took too long to publish April highlights and the month became a blur. There were some good things that happened, but a mash-up seems appropriate since it is all part of the same season. This has been a heck of a time and these highlights are a way for me to stay present in this beautiful world.

Sand lily explosion: This was the earliest date I've seen sand lilies near my house in four years of living here. And they are prolific! Some magic combination of heat, water, and cold has brought them out in droves. They graciously thrive where the land is disturbed, and are much more charming than cheatgrass and other aggressive invasives.

Sand lily in Central Oregon
The lovely sand lily

Chipmunks and ground squirrels: The zippy little critters are awake! The chipmunks mostly hang out in the driveway, using the rock pile as a home base. The chubby little ground squirrels (Belding's Ground Squirrel) live in/below our yard with what appears to be a pretty complex underground lair. They are only active for a few months each year, but we know they are waking up when the piles of dirt start appearing. Holes form in the piles and then the race is on — squirrels run back and forth between bitterbrush, the grassy area, the barn.

This year we have counted 12 babies. The parents stand tall and chirp while tiny balls of squirrel fluff dart in and out of the bitterbrush, wrestle, and kick up dust around their holes. I could spend hours watching squirrel tv.

Eagle-eyed neighbor: We helped the neighbors with some wildfire prevention — clearing brush, mostly — and one of them found a branch with what I think might be real-life slime mold! He graciously allowed me to have it so it wouldn't get pitched with the rest of the branches.

Slime mold (I think)
I am not sure, but I think this is slime mold (dried up, but still...)

Creative people: Going down the internet rabbit hole of slime mold photos, I learned of an artist Toni Losey, making work inspired by lichen and slime mold. One of her pieces is now nestled in with some antlers on a shelf in my house.

A favorite blogger that I have read for over a decade went quiet, but recently started a substack! When you read someone's stories for so long they begin to feel like a friend you have never met, and you miss them when they are gone. I am grateful for every essay of hers that appears in my inbox.  

Men with animals: RK and I were out driving in the woods near our house. We saw a man walking cross-country, not on a trail, with a pet cat draped on his neck. The cat was alive and looked quite comfortable. The man waved. I guess he lives out there...?

A few minutes later we saw another man with maybe 8 airedale dogs, all full-grown and looking pretty identical. He herded them off the road and they looked at us with big dog smiles. The man waved. We called him the airedale shepherd.

Lunar eclipse: The best lunar eclipse I ever saw was one I didn't know was happening. Camping out in the middle of the desert, I crept out of the tent to pee in the night. What the hell is up with the moon?!? Super blood moon eclipse, turns out. During the recent eclipse, the shadow that made the moon appear red also made it look extra 3-D. Full but not bright, and melancholy. RK and I took turns gazing at it through binoculars until the shadow moved off the edge, revealing the moon's bright self.

Clean windows: I have cleaned windows before, but until my co-worker married a professional window cleaner and I hired him to come on out to the ranchito, I now know I have never actually had clean windows. Our house is small but "glassy," we have a wall of windows for passive solar heat, and this wasn't inexpensive. But if you want a quick way to completely elevate your world view, let me recommend having your windows cleaned by a professional. Especially if you have a view or just enjoy looking out windows.

Wilderness Study Area in Central Oregon
Surveying the vastness in the Wilderness Study Area

Getting out there: RK and I signed up to help monitor a Wilderness Study Area about 100 miles from home. Traveling up super rugged roads in areas completely unknown to us is our happy place. The north wind was chilly, but the wildflowers were plentiful and we found a tiny antler.

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Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA