June 26, 2020

I Am not a Pixie-bob! I Am a Wild Cat!

A yummy rat makes travel time go by more quickly.  Our neighbor
wildlife rehabbers like to put stuffed toys with small mammals for companionship.
Some where in southeastern Colorado, someone "found" a bobcat kitten in an abandoned house out on the prairie. (In other words, the kitten was probably part of a litter, with a mother, but was snatched.)

The "finder" took her back to town, where she was kept as a pet and described to everyone as a "pixie-bob."

I never heard of a "pixie-bob" before this week. Apparently it's a bobtailed domestic cat breed that (allegedly) has some bobcat genetics, but don't waste your money on a DNA test.

Someone tipped off a Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager. Keeping wild mammals as pets is totally illegal, unless you're a rehabilitator or a licensed zoo, etc. Since her mother's location was unknown, a wildlife rehabilitation center was the only place for her.

M. and I, the volunteer wildlife transporters, met him partway between here and there and picked her up in a busy big-box store parking lot. Is there anything more dissonant than handling a wild animal amid acres of asphalt, rumbing motors, truck traffic on the interstate highway, the smell of fast-food restaurant grease, and a hot summer wind?

Back in the foothills of home, we left her with the rehabbers for a short stay. They had raised three bobcat kittens over this past winter — those three were released earlier this summer.

But one kitten is a lonely kitten. A rehabber in Douglas County already had two kittens and was happy to take a third.

By now we were calling this one "Pixie-bob," and she had been happily eating elk and chicken bits in a Tuff Shed-turned nursery, but it was time for her (wriggling wildly) to go back into the blue carrier and travel more than an hour northward. She got a freshly thawed rat to occupy her on the trip; when I cleaned the carrier afterwards, nothing was left but a short section of the tail. Crunch crunch!

With any luck, this will be her next May or June:

Bobcat release (Colorado Parks and Wildlife).

June 20, 2020

An Orphan Fawn with Pretty Good Prospects

Orphan mule deer fawn arrives at the rehabilitation center.
This is the time of year when fawns are dropping and wildlife agencies are telling people, "Don't think that fawn has been abandoned unless it is still there 24 hours from now! Its mother had to go eat, but she knows where she left it, and she will be coming back."

Generally that is true, unless she is lying dead by the side of the highway, which is the back-story to some of the wildlife transport runs that M. and I do every June. That was the case with this little mule deer from eastern Fremont County.

We picked him up two days ago from the woman who had found him. He had a quick 45-minute ride to the wildlife rehabilitors, and now he is in the antelope/deer fawn enclosure, behind a high chainlink fence reinforced with barbed wire and electric wire— all to keep predators from thinking it is some kind of snack bar. (So far, so good.)

As all Colorado Parks & Wildlife volunteers are trained to do, we politely thanked her for taking care of the fawn and for contacting CPW about it.

As I picked up the carrier, she asked that I hold it up to the passenger seat of her Chrysler Pacifica so that the young kids in the back could say good-bye to the fawn. I did that. 

I got the impression that she had kept it longer than she should have as a learning experience for the kiddies. Like some people let the cat have kittens so that the kids can witness "the miracle of birth."

On the plus side, she had given him goat's milk, which  he accepted, and he was alert and lively when he arrived at the rehabbers' place. No harm.

Not like the woman who lived in a little house up the river in Huerfano County and found an injured great horned owl. I think it had collided with a fence or power line.

She kept it for about four days while looking up information on the Internet, where she got some site that told her to feed the owl oatmeal or something equally wrong for a carnivore.

Finally she or someone talked to the Raptor Center in Pueblo, and I was dispatched to get it. When I picked up the owl, she cooed over it, "You'll be going to a better place where they will make you all better."

No, you will be going to a better place where you will get the needle because you are too far gone.

But I was polite and (I hope) upbeat, even though I knew it was a hopeless case.

So if Colorado  Parks & Wildlife ever moves on behind the "Leave the fawns alone!" message, which is super-important, maybe they could add, "If you pick up an injured bird or animal, call now, not two days from now!"

June 14, 2020

New Front Range Colorado Wolf Report

The Grand County wolf-like animal. Photo: Janice Freeman via Colorado Parks and Wildife.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife field officers are trying to confirm a wolf sighting in western Larimer County, just south of the Wyoming border in the headwaters of the Laramie River. According to CPW's "Colorado Wolf Update" for June 2020,
Wildlife managers are attempting to confirm a credible wolf sighting in the Laramie River Valley in Larimer County. An animal sighted in the area was wearing a wildlife tracking collar, which indicates it is likely a dispersal wolf from monitored packs in Montana or Wyoming, however flights and ground crews have been unable to detect a signal or visually confirm the wolf. It has been determined that the animal in Larimer County is not wolf 1084-M from neighboring Jackson County. If a wolf or wolves are confirmed in Larimer County, they would be the furthest east in Colorado in nearly a century.
Further west, in Grand County, campers reported being approached by a large wolf-like animal. Reading between the lines of the news release, it sounds as though wildlife officials suspect this could be wolf-hybrid, perhaps one that was dumped "in the wild" but is used to being fed by humans.
Biologists responded to the area to gather biological evidence that could be used to confirm the presence of a wolf versus a coyote, lost or escaped domestic dog or domestic wolf-hybrid.
"Biological evidence" . . . . that sounds like they need a very specialized tracking dog.

May 22, 2020

A Blue Bird, but not a Bluebird, Out of Place

Mountain bluebird — not what I was
seeing (Cornell University).
After my experience while mushroom-hunting last August, I am half expecting to bump into the Realm of Faerie again.

So when I looked out the front window and saw an abnormally blue little bird (junco-size) pecking around one of the sunflower seed feeders, I could have just said, "Well, it's some weird pet of the Other Crowd, you know. Better leave it alone."

But no. I flipped through some bird guides, trying to figure this out. It looked like someone took a junco and dunked it in blue hair dye.

I knew it was not a mountain bluebird. They are relatively common once you get out of the thick trees and into some open country, and they are a big ol' thrush, relatively speaking, like an American robin.

Indigo bunting (Cornell University).
I even tried Merlin, Cornell's online bird ID guide (which I have on my phone), and which tried to tell me that it was either a mountain bluebird or a white-breasted nuthatch or something else completely wrong.

So I started asking birder friends (and my patient spouse),  and they all came back with "indigo bunting." Obviously the Merlin app was fooled because they are not supposed to be here, but hey, it's May, when migrants are migrating and birds pop up where not expected.

When you look at the indigo bunting's range map, my house is not in its territory, but you know how it is, sometimes wild animals forget to read their owner's manuals. What was it doing up in the montane pine forest? I don't know. It did not stick around.

May 21, 2020

Do Your Duty as a Hominin!

Mountain lion — or cougar, if you prefer. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
I have had some mountain lion encounters, none of them this bad, so permit me some second-guessing. Everyone does it in regard to predator attacks.

Washington state mountain biker Isaac Sederbaum, the initial victim, having then seen his companion attacked by a lion, "later told the authorities that he had to travel about two miles before getting a cellphone signal and calling 911."

Isn't it your duty as a hominin to pick up a heavy stick and go full-on Angry Ape at the cat? They are ambush predators, so they avoid face-to-face showdowns. That might have worked.

But no. Got to make that 911 call. And eventually the lion is tracked with dogs and shot, as so often happens.

Ten thousand ancestors sadly shake their heads.

* * * 

True story: my friends the wildlife rehabilitators had a somewhat parallel experience. She was attacked by a lion inside an enclosure who grabbed her by the head. Her husband was not far away, and as he said, more or less, "I tried to kick a forty-yard field goal with that lion's head as the football."

Then he pulled her to safety, closed the gate, and got her some medical help. Apparently she was a celebrity at the hospital. They don't get to see big-predator injuries very often in Pueblo, Colorado, so all the docs were curious.

Lesser Prairie Chickens Reintroduced in SE Colorado

Some footage from Colorado Parks & Wildlife's ongoing efforts to re-establish lesser prairie chickens on the Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado.

From the CPW news release:
CAMPO, Colo. – Lesser prairie chickens, gone for decades from the Colorado landscape, are again living on the eastern plains, thanks to an ambitious four-year project led by biologists from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Kansas, the U.S. Forest Service, along with private landowners.

Recently completed surveys by CPW biologists revealed that hundreds of the birds are now thriving on breeding grounds, known as leks, on the plains extending across southeastern Colorado and western Kansas.

Lesser prairie chickens once numbered in the tens of thousands in those grasslands. But a variety of factors led to their gradual disappearance. Experts blame, in part, the conversion a century ago of grasslands to cropland that contributed to the Dust Bowl in 1932 and wiped out many of the birds. More recently, the lesser prairie chicken population in Southeast Colorado and Southwest Kansas was devastated by severe snowstorms, particularly in December 2006, followed by years of drought.

They even vanished on a 330,000-acre swath of sand sagebrush and grasslands known as the Comanche National Grassland in Baca County, Colo., and the Cimarron National Grassland in Morton County, Kan., as well as privately owned rangeland and Conservation Reserve Program grassland. . . .

By 2016, biologists counted just two males on the Comanche and five males on the Cimarron.

That same year, CPW decided to try relocating lesser prairie chickens from thriving breeding grounds in Kansas in hopes of resurrecting leks on the national grasslands. So a CPW team, led by conservation biologists Jonathan Reitz and Liza Rossi, began working in collaboration with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Kansas State University and the U.S. Forest Service. . . .

Over the past four years, the team of Colorado and Kansas biologists, and K-State graduate students, relocated 103 males and 102 females to the Comanche. The team also released 101 males and 105 females during the same time period just east of the state line 
Read the whole thing. 

Extra-credit question: What is the relationship between prairie chickens and contemporary pow-wow fancy dancing?

May 14, 2020

After the Fire, There is Art


If I were a landscape painter (like Dad), I would try to do more
with this than just a photo. Golden banner (Thermopsis divaricarpa)
against burned pine trees from 2012.

As you read, Australia had a rough fire season in late 2019-early 2020. To landscape painter Warwick Fuller, that was an opportunity.
The 72-year-old was in the Wolgan Valley in New South Wales, painting the aftermath of the devastating Gospers Mountain fire, which burned through 500,000 hectares of bush over the summer.
It's an area he had often visited in a career spanning 40 years.
Warwick Fuller at work in a fire landscape (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Fuller, internationally recognized as an impressionist landscape painter, finds himself drawn to areas recovering from fire.
On his recent painting expedition, green shoots covered the burned trunks of trees throughout the valley, new grass was emerging and the ancient sandstone bluffs, which had inspired him for decades, were a strange mix of colours. 
They reflected renewal amidst the destruction caused by a fire which burned for three months. 
"Light is what really drives me, it's what makes me want to paint the landscape but on top of that I'm trying to interpret what's deeper than just the physical surrounds, the physical objects in the landscape," Fuller said.
He inspires me to do more, although more likely with a camera. I should be more systematic, get out in more weathers, all of it. The year-to-year changes after a fire can be fascinating.

May 09, 2020

'Winter Burn' on Ponderosa Pines

Ponderosa pine with winter burn "Needle drop" is normal with ponderosa pines and other conifers. The pine's needles last two or three years before falling off in a normal way and becoming "duff" on the forest floor. Usually the dead needs fall from the interior of the canopy while new growth occurs at the tips of branches.

On this pine, however, and some growing near it, you can see that the dead, yellow needles are at the tip. A recent news release from the Colorado State Forest Service suggests a reason:
A cold snap in October, coupled with last week’s [mid-April 2020] extreme temperature fluctuations, injured ponderosa pines, other pine species and spruce trees in the Douglas and Elbert county areas, including Castle Rock, Franktown, Parker, Elizabeth and Kiowa.
I  don't live in one of those counties, which include the part of the Black Forest area NE of Colorado Springs, called that for its stands of pine trees. But we had the weather: On April 14, a neighbor's weather station recorded a low of 2° F. (-16° C), following a week of warm temperatures.
Damaged pine and spruce trees may appear grizzled and possess white or straw-colored foliage, referred to as “winter burn.” Other symptoms may include the tips of needles appearing rust-colored while the base of the needles remains green.
The tree I photographed is rooted in a small gully, which means it gets a little more moisture, so it has grown taller than the pines around it. On the other hand, that gully is a conduit for cold air rolling down the slopes.
Unfortunately, little can be done for trees that have sustained winter burn damage, according to Meg Halford, a forester in the Colorado State Forest Service’s Franktown Field Office. However, “the buds on these frost-injured trees may have survived, and they may produce new growth this spring,” Halford said. “Don’t count them out just yet.” 
Some others are showing dead needles that might mean more pine beetle kil/fungus infection. We don't lose whole mountainsides of trees, as has happened with the lodgepole pines further north. It's more a question of a few here and a few there. There is not much I can do about that. The standing dead trees mostly become firewood.

May 04, 2020

Everything Picturesque about the Upland Southwest


Yellow-blossom cholla cactus, dead Gambel oak, one-seed juniper, barbed wire, old sun-baked tires, pile of rusty tin cans. If it can stab you, it will.

And in the air, the overpowering smell of musk mustard, only slightly sweeter than skunk spray. 

Back home, M. was out picking some wild greens to put in our supper. I suggested musk mustard — all the very best foraging blogs recommend it.

"I don't care what the foraging blogs say," she replied. "It makes me nauseous."

So we get lambsquarter instead. 

Musk mustard, Chorispora tenella, a/k/a purple mustard.
What do the foraging blogs say? Things like this:
There are very few greens tasty enough to make an entire salad out of; musk mustard is one of those greens. Lightly dressed with a drizzle of oil & vinegar and a few crumbles of goat cheese…it’s the perfect salad. If you listened to the National Park Service and cattle ranchers, you’d think musk mustard was a noxious weed. And you’d be missing out on an easy-to-identify, plentiful wild edible.
Or  this:
Among the plants I observed and collected on this trip, wild mustards made a strong showing. These are often overlooked or passed over for sexier wild fare, but wild mustards are plentiful and accessible throughout Denver area right now—making them a good choice for a late April, early May foray. 
No quelites wars at our house, though. I picked some prickly lettuce, which is a little bitter on the line of dandelions, but not more than some of the greens sold in stores.

May 03, 2020

Colorado to Require Hunting or Fishing License to Access State Wildlife Areas

The past has just turned into the future again. Back in 2006, Colorado began to require "habitat stamps" with hunting and fishing licenses. Here is the rationale:
The program provides a means for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to work with private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations to protect important fish and wildlife habitat and provide places for people to enjoy our wildlife heritage.
The agency has leveraged a variety of other funds around this core – including Great Outdoors Colorado and federal State Wildlife Grants – to extend the program’s reach. These combined funds have been focused on protecting fish and wildlife habitat and opportunities for hunting and fishing.
It's not a physical stamp; it's simply a surcharge. The then-ten dollar stamp would also permit recreation at areas leased by what was then the Colorado Division of Wildlife, such as Lake DeWeese in Custer County. Then, if I remember right, that requirement was dropped.

Now the Wildlife Commission has tightened the rules:
A valid hunting or fishing license will be required for everyone 18 or older attempting to access any State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land leased by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, beginning July 1.
The rule change was adopted unanimously April 30 by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.
“By policy, state wildlife areas are acquired with hunter and angler dollars, and are intended specifically to provide wildlife habitat and wildlife-related recreation,” Southeast Regional Manager Brett Ackerman told the commission at its meeting. “This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties.
It says "everyone," not just one person in the group or per carload.And it says "license," not habitat stamp. I wonder how this is going to shake out in practice.

From the news release:
At the meeting, Ackerman presented examples from across the state of the increasing use of state wildlife areas inconsistent with their purpose, including set up of temporary residences, vehicular use on big game winter range, vandalism, and other uses detrimental to wildlife and wildlife-related uses.
To continue with my earlier example, Lake DeWeese SWA is leased from an irrigation company. It is already stipulated that non-fishing boat use (such as water-skiing) is not permitted. But now, a fishing license in order to picnic on the shore? Hoo-boy. What a job for the local game warden.

UPDATE, MAY 9, 2020:  "Hiking Bob [Falcone]," columnist for the Colorado Springs Independent, weighs in: "Buying a fishing license to hike in a state wildlife area makes sense."

May 01, 2020

CPW Volunteer Coordinator Gets Retirement Parade

Up in my county seat, a high-school senior, a 90-something resident, and some small children have somehow earned "social-distancing" birthday greetings that involve sheriff's and fire vehicles driving past they homes with lights and sirens. It's "a thing" now.

M. and I did it yesterday, joining dozens of Colorado Parks & Wildlife volunteers and staffers (some of them have light bars and sirens) in a farewell parade for Jena Sanchez, volunteer coordinator for southeastern Colorado, in lieu of the previously scheduled retirement party.

I cannot recall the exact numbers, but CPW uses a lot of volunteers, which add to an equivalent of something like 150 full-time staff. For this quadrant of the state, Jena was the one who coordinated training, assignments, hours-tracking, general hand-holding, and rewards and recognition. She had the gift of doing all that while making you feel like you were her favorite volunteer.

Some photos from the event, held at the Lake Pueblo State Park visitor center and environs. For video and words from Jena herself, go to Fox 21 (Colorado Springs).

CPW volunteer decorating her car at the Pueblo fish hatchery parking lot.
Some "Bear Aware" vols had a real but old-looking bearskin on their car. (They are
in a program that teaches residents and campers how to avoid bear problems.)
Jena Sanchez (blue shirt) waves to well-wishers as a Colorado Springs TV crew
and a CPW photographer film the event.
And the well-wishers keep coming!
Jena and Larry Sanchez, definitely not at Pueblo Reservoir (CPW photo).

April 27, 2020

Corvids Are Smart and Have a Better PR Agency

Crow with tool (Cornell University).
Corvids (crows, magpies, ravens, jays) are smart birds. So are parrots. But what I notice is that the Corvidae are better at getting their message out. Now why is that?

Take this article from Science Daily, "How Birds Evolved Big Brains." It seems even-handed:
The two groups of birds with truly exceptional brain sizes evolved relatively recently: parrots and corvids (crows, ravens, and kin). These birds show tremendous cognitive capacity, including the ability to use tools and language, and to remember human faces. The new study finds that parrots and crows exhibited very high rates of brain evolution that may have helped them achieve such high proportional brain sizes.
But then the photo (not the one here) is of a crow, and the closing quote is this bit of corvid triumphantalism:
"Crows are the hominins of the bird kingdom," says co-author Dr. Jeroen Smaers of Stony Brook University. "Like our own ancestors, they evolved proportionally massive brains by increasing both their body size and brain size at the same time, with the brain size increase happening even more rapidly."
Corvids are better than parrots at manipulating the news media, after all, but maybe it's not that hard. 

April 13, 2020

A Czech Hunting Photographer in the 1950s

Cameras and lenses used by Karel Hájek. The Irish
setter shows up in a lot of photos, but I am not sure
if it was his dog or someone else's. Likewise the rifle.
At the end of his folio-sized book of hunting and wildife photos, Hunting with Camera and Gun, the Czech photographer Karl Hájek writes,
I have taken many hunting pictures, but I know that I have a lot to learn. New situations arise which create new photographic or aesthetic problems. One keeps coming across something that could improve the pictures, that could improve the pictures, that could make them more interesting or more graphic . . . . For our work we can well take the old tried saying as a motto: "No one knows his job so well, that he could not do it better." As an example from hunting let us take pictures of stags in the rutting season. We are delighted with the first picture if we succeed in photographing the stag when he is "bellowing." A fine picture! The we suceed in catching the stag again in better light. A better picture! And then another one! And then another one, this time with the rutting stag against the light. And finally an even better photograph: on a raw early morning we catch the stag against the light while he is bellowing and one can see the vapour of his breath as it issues from his jaws. We could still take the stag in a dozen other positions—opposite us, to the right of us, to the left, and so on. Each one would be different, new, and perhaps better. . . .

The photographing of game has a charm of its own. One experiences many wonderful moments. Some of the most magical of one's life, for they are the sort of magic that never repeats itself, moments that are always different. First of all, it a wonderful thing to be able to see game in its natural environment, to observe its habits, and to discover how wisely nature conducts life. It is a moment of great experience, giving man, the opportunity of really understanding nature.

Karol Hájek, Hunting with Camera and Gun, trans. Jean Layton (Prague: Artia, 1956).
Beaters and shooters warm themselves during a mid-day break in a "driven" hunt.
Seventy years later, with all the improvements in camera gear, you can see better photos of flying birds, for instance, in any issue of Colorado Outdoors. But what brings me back to the book years after I found it in a secondhand-bookstore in Boulder are Hájek's photos of the hunting experience and his character studies of individual participants.

Although the photos were made in post-World War II Communist-ruled Czechoslovaka, they seem  representative of any time from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries. It's quite Central European: so formalized, so organized, so ceremonial — dead deer laid in a neat row in the snow as the hunters fire a ceremonial salute above them and horns are blown. Yet he quotes another Czech writer,
"The old habits have disappeared and in their place there is a state examination, without which no hunter can be taken on. At the same time, other ancient customs and usages have been abolished, for instance the severe penalties demanded for unhuntsman-like behaviour and for failure on the part of the hunters, who, if he trespassed against the huntsman's code or against hunting regulations, had to lie across the carcass of the stag or wild boar and suffer himself to receive three strokes on his back-side from the leader of the hunt. This kind of punishment was a frequent affair and even personages of high birth had to submit to it."

F. and L. Stetka, Lovecké rozkose (The joys of the hunt)




Original caption: Much emphasis is placed on the knowledge of how to use a hunting rifle properly, since a weapon in the hands of an inexperienced person can be a danger to other hunters. For this reason, the older hunters readily share their experiences with the young men and women of all professions who are now taking up hunting.

That  rifle looks like so much like Dad's Mannlicher-stocked Mauser in 7x57 from the gun works in Brno (now in Czechia), except that his lacked the set trigger but had a better scope. It left the Central European world of Loden coats and ceremony and ended up as a forest ranger's saddle gun. A different world with a different tradition of wildlife management.

April 02, 2020

Springtime, Vultures, and Snow

Spring is an iffy business on the Eastern Slope of the Rockies. Dad had one all-purpose adjective for it: "putrid."

There are areas of the Western Slope that have fiercer winters yet almost manage a proper spring. Like right now it is 59° F. in Durango while it is 40° F at my house, and both are at approximately the same elevation: 6500–6600 feet.

Turkey vulture
But there are signs. Driving toward Pueblo on Monday morning, March 30, I saw a turkey vulture eating a roadkill skunk by the highway, while M. spotted one overhead as she was out walking back at home.

Today a letter to the editor in the county weekly proclaimed "Vultures are back." (The message was to watch where you park your vehicle in town.) I like living where vultures are worth a headline.

Monday evening a little rain-and-graupel squall blew through, complete with thunder. The first thunder of the season. With thunder comes lightning — back in April 2011 we had to evacuate in front of a lively little (2500 acres) forest fire that was put out by  . . . a snowstorm.

Maybe Dad was right. Putrid.

So we look for wildflowers — only spring beauty (Claytonia) has shown up yet. M. picked a few early dandelion leaves and put them in a salad largely for what she admitted was symbolic value, but we have to obey the hunter-gather imperative.

I am expecting one or two more snows, in the natural order of things. And hummingbirds.

March 26, 2020

Piñones 2: The Lemonade Stand Rule

Bagged piñon nuts for sale by a roadside vendor.
The "Lemonade Stand Rule" originated when I was driving one time on US 20 across western Nebraska. I went through a little town — Rushville? Hay Springs? —  and saw two little kids selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of a Victorian house.

It was a picture-perfect small town scene. I was trying to be a photojournalist and to build up my stock-photo portfolio. But I knew that if I stopped to photograph them properly, I would have to track down a parent and get a signed photo release, which would mean some explaining— and did I really want to do that when I had an interview scheduled with this USFWS guy at Valentine National Wildlife Refuge (further east) later that afternoon?

I eased off the gas, thought for moment, and then drove on. But I soon berated myself on two counts: "You dummy! There were those kids alone under a big prairie sky. At least you could have bought some lemonade to cheer them up! And why didn't you take the time to get a good clear photo? You'll never be a professional!"

The Lemonade Stand Rule (LSR) states that unless I am extremely pressed for time or the traffic is impossible, I will always stop for kids' lemonade stands. In this over-regulated age, selling lemonade is a sem-Free Range Kids things to do, and the sellers should be supported.

(There should be an Oshá Stand Rule too, after the time I failed to stop at a table selling oshá root down in San Luisand something bad happened.)

What about piñon nuts (piñones) then? 

Last January I was driving and saw a pickup parked by the side of the road with a sign advertising piñon nuts. I applied the LSR, made a quick left across the oncoming traffic and pulled up behind it.

I got to talking with the vendor—he was a re-seller, a local guy—and we were trading a little basic info. He said he lived in the Wet Mountains, and I said, "Oh, up on XXXX  Creek?" and I was right. We had some things in common, and when he volunteered that he had done a little federal prison time (for a nonviolent offense nearly twenty years ago), I knew exactly what that had been about.

The nuts were not cheap. My last post explained why that is. But I bought a small bag and got back in the Jeep, thinking, "I must have lived here for a while."  (I have the photos too, but I am not using them here.)

Please stop for lemonade stands. Fight the Machine.