Wild Clematis

Clematis

I’m going to try it again with the wildflower pics. I didn’t realize the Trillium was so blown out on my iPhone. It’s hard to tell sometimes.
Anyway, here are a couple shots from yesterday’s wandering at our favorite wild flower stations! The Clematis was really quite abundant.

Clematis-group

And, a red friend stopped by so that I could photograph him ? under the blossoms – Service Berry, I believe.

red squirrel

Small things matter

Muscles

This is a lesson for me in building community. How many live critters are crammed together here in this colony? Mussels muscling in on any available space but watch out for the little ones!  They all seem to get along.

Finch-eating

Take time to give thanks for a quiet moment. This is a rare opportunity for a Finch – having the bird feeder all to oneself.

Bird seed! My favorite! Hey thanks…

sand-flower

And I’d say this little, coastal flower I found nestled in the sea grass pretty much says it all.  It is perfect just the way it is. Fragaria chiloensis or sand strawberry.

Swan River afternoon

Some of the most lovely river canoeing and kayaking is only about an hour away from us.  We drove up to Flathead lake on Sunday hoping to put in somewhere, but the white caps and the numbers of people on the lake detoured us up the Swan River drainage.  We only drove just a few miles to put in at a a small river park. There was no one there except the fleeting glimpse of another kayaker just taking off upstream.

The day was warm but not unduly so. Still, the sun was not to be forgotten, so on went our sunscreen and off we paddled up river too.  Downstream, right behind us at the boating access, was the dam and restricted white water rapids, so what was the intrepid paddler to do?  Here, as you can see, the river is more like a small lake.  The camera doesn’t really like that much sunshine but wasn’t the day dazzling?

Swan summer

As we paddled up river there were dozens upon dozens of Bohemian Waxwings feeding on a mayfly hatch along the river banks. Their acrobatic sweeps kept me amused the whole time. Ducks complained at us and kingfishers scolded us even more. We stopped once to stretch our legs only to find the Belted Kingfisher’s leftover lunch. Way leftover.  They do like their crayfish.
kingfisher lunch

Lazy afternoon and lazy water; it was slow going further up river where there was more current.  Mostly we just meandered along.

tree bones

The Swan – mountains wherever you look on either side and soon they will have snow up high once again.  For now, we will continue to enjoy those lingering, yet waning  summer days.  Can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
Swan Range

A spray skirt for the canoe

Here are more photos of our paddle up in the Missions.  I wanted also to show off the spray skirt which I made a couple weeks ago for the Red Raven.  Matthew cut out the pattern and sewed on the fasteners. So, it was more like we made it together.  You can click on these to enlarge the photos. A spray skirt helps keep water out of the canoe, but more, it shields the boat from wind resistance. We tried it out in some hefty gusts and it worked very well.

canoe skirt 2

In the springtime wind is usually not an issue out on the water, but as soon as July hits then one really seems to be fighting it on the lakes around Montana, especially Flathead Lake.  Early morning is best but sometimes we simply can’t make it; for instance, McDonald Lake started to get windy about 11 a.m. We will be sewing a front and a rear piece later for the Raven, but the mid-section is the most important piece for us now.  Just a reminder, the boat is 18 feet long.

spray skirt

Here I am looking up at a very large waterfall behind McDonald Lake. With all the snow melting it was really rushing and loud! I kept my eye out for bears but didn’t see any, thank goodness. I love knowing they are here but I don’t want to have any kind of encounter with them. I am totally and completely respectful of the fact that they are on top of the food chain when we are in their space, especially when I’m happily munching down on my turkey sandwich…

looking up

There is not much snow left up on these mountains but then they get the full sun.  Majestic Mission Mountains.
east

Back at Lake Alva

We’ve been jaunting about with the canoe; thus the silence here on QP.  When it stopped raining on Tuesday we headed for Holland lake over in the lake country but the skeeters were so awful we decided to try Lake Alva, where we spent a weekend in May.  The mosquitoes were considerably less annoying at Alva although there were standing pools of water in just about every nook and byway.  We made a fire to combat them at night.

We came back with a lot of images, mostly of the flora and fauna.  Below is the outlet of the Clearwater River at lake Alva.  We paddled all the way around this small lake one morning.  The Clearwater river was very inviting but we declined its invitation to canoe down it.  It ends up in lake Inez and we didn’t want to have to walk and walk all the way back to our car afterwards. We’ll have to hire someone for shuttle services if we want to do that sometime.  It looks beautiful, though although running very high.

Clearwater River

We stopped often to look at the numerous wild flowers and I had to get out in one little bay to check for amphibians. I was not disappointed. This frog just sat the whole time while we tried to get a good image.  I think this might be the Columbia Spotted frog but it is my first attempt at amphibian  identification.  If anyone knows otherwise… they were leaping all over on this side of the lake.
frog

Here is the quiet little bay where we saw the frogs. Red Raven is liking it here.  We also saw a pair of Common Loons too but I have yet to get a photo.  They like you to be very not-fussy, very non-intrusive.  We never get very close for that reason.  Tomorrow I will post some flower photos.  The wild flowers were abundant, large, and gorgeous.  Firstly, I have to identify all of them.
Alva bay

This was taken that evening on the north end of Alva. It is very much like a pond here. The sky was reflecting perfectly in the water and it was mesmerizing while paddling. I know, I know – the hat again. Always, always with the hat.  But, my Mom told me to always wear a hat outdoors to avoid getting wrinkles prematurely.  I almost always listen to my Mother.  And do I have wrinkles? Case in point.
heaven reflects7

Spring at the Bison Range

Buffalo1

We have lived underneath the eastern hills of the Bison Range for nearly twenty years. We took a walk there earlier today and I don’t think we have ever seen so many different kinds of creatures all in one afternoon. Everyone wanted to be out in the sunshine although it was interrupted by clouds off and on.  This particular bison above was grazing in the new grass near the visitor’s center quite close to the road. I was using the zoom lens but it was still too near for my comfort even in the safety of the car!  There were about thirty of them in this area. They are such huge, magnificent animals.  Below the greening hills show up beautifully underneath the white-covered Mission Mountains.  Our last storm brought some very badly needed snow cover and rain for the valley.  Snow in May is definitely alright to celebrate; I am grateful for it.

I will try to post more photos of some different critters tomorrow.  My Mom has been in the hospital with pneumonia and now that we are getting her settled in after being released today, I should be able to resume a bit more blogging.

IMG_2444

Whatcha' doing?

Alpacas2

Judy, from Lilacgate,  mentioned that the Alpacas looked like they are wearing baggy, four-legged PJ’s. I actually think that is pretty funny. They really are adorable – but yes, they do spit! Just a little. And a friend told me they Hum if you pet them. I didn’t pet them because there were two HUGE guard dogs in the field with them. I suppose they are worth a lot of money.  I have a sweater made from Alpaca wool which I love. I guess I will have to be content with that.

This big work horse was in the field prior to us finding the Alpacas.  Matthew took this photo of  Mr. Huge.  He really needs to call in the hair dresser though because the Suzanne Summers look doesn’t work.  Look at the muscles on this animal; now that is real horse power.  On another note, I just discovered that I don’t have a category for pets or farm animals. I guess these are all a little wild…

heavy horse

Surprises on SWF

Two days ago it was snowing like mad and quite cold at 37 degrees F.  Winter was stubborn and seemed to be begrudging us our Spring; apparently winter would never leave.  However, a lot can change in two days.

Today it is 70 degrees and the sun is in full tilt. I was dazzled by it, walking around in a daze. I glanced up to see the pussy willows surprise me overhead. Here we are! Finally! It is about time Spring arrived and all within two days.  BAM!  – a true Montana Springtime. Gotta’ get out in that holy sunshine!  So off we went.

pussy

We explored down the road across from town this afternoon after school.  We hadn’t been on this road for years.  We turned a curve and discovered another surprise – what in the heck?   Montana Alpacas!  “Happy Sky Watch Friday“, they say.  Oh my, they are so cute and I have never seen Alpacas up close and personal before today.  Who would have thought such creatures lived only a mile from our house?

SWF is here again and thanks to all who make it possible.

Alpacas