Last weekend, a friend and I returned to Eldorado Canyon where for the last two years, we had been privileged to see swifts darting in and out of the sandstone cliff walls. I say privileged because this year they weren’t there. Was it because it was too windy? Had the swifts come and gone? Were there no bugs for these acrobatic birds to catch?
Maybe it’s a human tendency to want things to stay the same, to expect these birds to be there when we arrived to see them. I was disappointed but it also felt like an emptiness, that something was lacking in this spectacular landscape of soaring red cliffs dotted with rock climbers.
At the cabin, the first year I arrived, I was delighted to find that a house wren couple had taken up residence in a nesting box right outside the window where I sat at my computer. Not only could I watch the two fly back and forth with nesting materials and then food for their babies, but I could listen to the male sing, one of the sweeter songs in my neck of the woods.
But last year, the fence holding the nesting box fell down, and I had to move the box to another spot, not in direct eyesight. As far as I know, the wrens have never returned. At least, I don’t hear them. I miss them and the singing. It feels like something is missing, even though right now there’s a lot of life returning.
After months of seeing little animal life, almost overnight there’s rabbits (left), chipmunks, and ground squirrels scurrying everywhere. The young ones, especially, seem unafraid and let me get close, giving me a slightly deranged look as if they are still trying to figure out what they are doing here.
In Meeker Park, spring is still tentative, just a hint of green among last year’s brown grasses. The aspens in my yard are still bare, although down in the meadow the leaves are just starting to unfurl. There’s water everywhere, coursing through the fields and forming ponds in any depression in the land, where frogs have taken up residence, croaking night and day. The mountains are still deep in snow (above, Longs Peak), as if it were January, not almost June.
The pasqueflowers are usually gone by this late in May but the snow and rain seems to have given them a second life, and they are sprouting anew everywhere, providing color among the piles of pine needles.
At night, standing on my deck, I hear the frogs in the ponds but also a western screech owl, calling across the meadow to another owl, a tremulous haunting cry. And later, I’m startled from my reading by the sound of coyotes howling close by, from what sounds like on the other side of my neighbors’ house. It sounds like at least a dozen, their howls overlapping, and something in their voices makes me think they include young ones, a higher pitch. I imagine all those young chipmunks and rabbits getting chills down their spines.
It’s a slow start to my favorite season when my cabin world is teeming with life. I need to learn to be patient and lose my expectations. The summer will be full of expected and unexpected surprises.