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Echoes of my dreams; reflections of the colorado rocky mountains
John Denver, Rocky Mountain High
I've lived in many places including two foreign countries, however it's the sounds and memories of the Colorado Rockies that ever so softly echo in my dreams. It's that place you go to when times get tough and life becomes the most challenging. Vivid memories of the beautiful mountains, wild animals and nature in perfect balance still penetrate my thoughts, even though I now reside far away. It's here among the glorious mountains and nature that I became 'enlightened'. With each deep breath and slow exhale I became keenly aware of life's inter-connectivity with human and nature. Viewing Colorado's scenery is similar to taking in a cool, crisp breath of fresh air with it's majestic mountains and vast carpets of wild flowers splashed ever so delicately across the rolling hills.
It’s difficult to describe fully in words the astounding beauty of nature in all its splendid glory. Some of the state animals include; foxes, raccoon, mountain lion and big horn sheep among others. They litter the mountain side and bring the silent hills to life. Singer and songwriter John Denver captured this beauty with songs such as “Colorado Mountain High” and “On the Wings of an Eagle”.
Chilling Mountain Lion Encounter
One eye-opening encounter involved a run in with a mountain lion while traversing the mountains one spring morning. These cats are solitary animals, rarely seen by humans, yet powerful predators. While casually hiking with friends that day I caught one out of the corner of my eye curiously watching us from approximately 40 feet away. He was perfectly crouched on a large rock watching our every move with a prey-like alertness and tail ever so slightly twitching. My body froze with fear. Adrenaline kicked in high gear as we contemplated our next move. Protection was our first thought as we started frantically searching for some kind of weapon. Time seemed to stand still as we closely watched one another. I imagined how a mouse might feel. My gut instinct led me to reach for the biggest rock I could find. Carefully, while keeping a close eye on the cat, I managed to pick up two large stones.
After what seemed to be hours and an intense stare down we respectfully parted, going our separate ways. Our brief encounter reminded me that these mountains and hills were the cat’s home and territory. I was the intruder or possible prey who was allowed to enter and pass.
Run In with a Masked Bandit
Another wildlife encounter occurred at dusk one summer’s day while running on a quiet, rather secluded city street. It was the same, old, forgotten path I had taken many times before. But this evening would prove to be most memorable.
Running is almost peaceful. Each foot strategically placed in front of the other. Smells penetrated the air with wisps of fresh pine cone and sweet lilac. The calm was quickly interrupted when a family of four masked bandits 'raccoon' appeared from no where or actually from the drain on the side of the road. I don’t know who were more surprised by the encounter, however the raccoon seemed more agitated by my untimely appearance. My first thoughts were around how adorable these creatures were. They quickly changed when the largest family member reared on its hind quarters, almost doubled in size, and charged at me like a raging bull.The act was clearly a sign of aggression. I wasn't sure if I should run or throw up my hands but instinct told me to run. The chase began and after sprinting for what seemed to be a mile I got brave enough to look over my shoulder and realized that the raccoon had retreated. To this day I wonder what would have happened if that raccoon had caught up to me?
The Fox and the Hares
Strange noises are commonplace in the country and today was no different. Sounds of wildlife permeate the quiet days and include; the faint beating of wings, chime-like chirping of crickets and the occasional, high-pitched howl of a coyote at dawn.
Today’s noise was unique; almost blood curdling like a scream of an animal in great distress. Rushing towards the back door to investigate the strange sounds I saw several, red-colored, dog like animals with pointed ears. There was no doubt that these were foxes.
From a distance it seemed as if they were hurling themselves, one-by-one at the rabbit hutch. Their goal was to crush the wire mesh enclosure to get at the rabbits. I had never seen a fox before nevertheless one so close up. After witnessing the cunning attack, I was dumbfounded by the calculated measures they took to get at their prey. It didn't take long for the foxes to sense my presence and soon they scattered.
The rabbit hutch was clearly damaged from their furious attack. That evening the predators silently returned. This time breaking into the chicken coup where three young peacock chicks were carefully nestled for the night.
The next morning while preparing to feed the chicks I realized something was wrong. It didn't take long for me to figure out what had happened the previous night after finding pieces of flesh strewn around the yard. Foxes are predators and they had a feast due to our lack of wildlife knowledge or behavior. Wild animals and humans can live together peacefully in nature when we understand our inter-connectivity, habitat and behaviors when living among them.
Protecting Your Pets; the Great Horned Owl and the Chihuahua
Animals have always played a special role in my life. Every creature, from the smallest of pocket pets to companion animals such as dogs and cats to bigger animals were fascinating to me.
As decades past and I matured from adolescence to adulthood my fascination with God’s creatures grew. Living in Colorado was no different. I quickly adopted three new family members; a small Chihuahua, Poodle and German Shepherd.
One early morning before the sun rose I took a short walk with my Chihuahua. Our crooked path took us through an overgrown area covered with mature trees, dense thickets and thick shrubbery. Immediately after entering the grove l felt uncomfortable and heard a quiet but distinct, fluttering sound above my head. Before I could react a large Great Horned Owl swooped down with its sharp beak and powerful talons pointed straight towards my dog. What the owl failed to recognize was that the dog was on a leash which was attached to my arm. I screamed, jerked the leash dragging my bewildered pet towards me just in the nick of time. This bird of prey almost made a meal out of my beloved pet. Apparently, this silent but deadly predator couldn’t distinguish my pet from its natural prey or perhaps he was just an easy target. Every now and then my thoughts return to these magnificent creatures, nature's beauty and the beloved mountains.