The first day of school was only an hour, and it was the first decently hot day this "summer," so I squelched down my guilt, played hooky from a thousand and twelve urgent tasks and we took the kids up Whistler mountain for a picnic hike.
On the way to our favorite picnic spot, this happened:
It was a magnificent gift. What struck me most, apart from the unbearable cuteness, was that Mama was the one who took the initiative to play, rolling about and gently dragging her cub into the tussle. Even when she judged it time to leave the lovely cool snow and get back to the serious business of eating (and it is a very serious business, with winter approaching on the heels of a lousy berry crop, and males hogging all the best territory, as usual) she let him push her over every few steps in what was clearly a "just one more minute, Mom!" ploy.
I never cease to be amazed and thankful for the trails on our very doorstep. The fragrance of the forest on a warm day, dappled sunlight filtering through trees, the buoyant spring of a pine needle laden trail, pillows of moss, babbling brooks.... it truly is luxury for the soul and the senses.
Cedar boughs reflected in a swampy bit filled with kid-sized skunk cabbage:
Caterpillar exploring the precipice of a weathered footbridge:
Little dogwood stars speckling the undergrowth:
Tiny flowers, barely noticeable until you lie down on the trail to peer into their bright pink faces:
Magical kingdoms of lichen and moss on every rotting stump:
Luminous red berries:
The aforementioned babbling brook, invigorated by the meltwater of a very snowy winter and unusually late spring:
And the squirrel. Because it wouldn't be a proper hike without a squirrel:
I have lots more to tell you about life and yarn and why I've been kind of absentish for a bit.... but that takes more brainpower than I've got today. Soon.
This morning was part 2 of the Grade 5 bear watching experience... though since the massive amount of snow we had this winter is lingering well down the mountain, there are actually more bears hanging out in places like the golf courses and our front yard than there are on the slopes.
Nevertheless, we spotted this handsome fellow striding across a ski run / meadow:
Our local bear expert and tour guide, Michael Allen, believes him to be one of the largest bears in the valley, second only to his massive father, Slumber.
Panting a little on the warm day, he appeared to be heading for a cool stream on the other side of the run.
To the delight of the class, he paused to relieve himself just before disappearing over the crest of the hill. I'm afraid I missed that particular photo-op, but in answer to the age-old question "does a bear s**t in the woods?" I have to say that I have only ever seen their scat in meadows and the middle of trails, usually those which are fairly open and well-travelled. It's purely anecdotal, of course, but they seem to show little inclination to disappear discretely into the bushes!