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It’s the peak of summer now with hot days and hills covered in tall dry grass. Everyday we don’t have a wildfire, we are grateful. I rarely take my camera out on days like this but today I did and I found lots of beauty in the everyday scenes around here.

The holiday season was a blur of events and meals and non-stop entertainment. A week into the new year and I am beginning to feel ‘normal’ again. So far the snow in the valley is less than normal but the groomed trails are in good shape for skate skiing and classic skiing. The Loup even opened up for New Years. Here’s hoping for more snow and winter fun in the Methow.

Lots of birds have successfully nested on our hillside this year – American Robins, Say’s Phoebes, Western and Mountain Bluebirds, House Wrens, Tree and Violet-green Swallows, Bullock’s Orioles and more. The biggest highlight has been our Nice Nests kestrel box hosting its first successful nest of American Kestrels. Four birds were raised and got out of the box and were standing around on branches up until a few days ago. That is the branchling stage. Now they are out doing flying and hunting lessons. I hope they stay here and work on our rodent population. And I hope they return next year. We have another kestrel box that hasn’t been used yet!

Our valley has been inundated with wildfire smoke off and on for over forty days. This week is particularly bad with an inversion trapping all of the smoke and holding it down throughout the day and night with no relief. A person, or a dog I suppose, should be wearing a mask whenever she ventures out in it. Otherwise, she ought to just stay inside and be grateful for air conditioning and a tightly built house.

Dogs don’t understand this and they want/need a walk each day. Here are a few images from this morning’s walk.

Honestly, I have no idea where the time goes. I finally just let go of November images. November was mostly warmish and very wet. And December has been cold and dry. Seems like every other day we get an inch or two of fluffy powder snow that can be swept rather than shoveled from the porch. Quite different from the heavy wet snow that fell last year early in the winter. I have gotten used to the cold and if the temperature gets up to freezing, it seems warm, almost balmy! Skate and classic skiing has been excellent on the Methow Trails! Morning walks have been beautifully illuminated with wondrous light.

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