Showing posts from October, 2009

Elk Velvet, Begging Bowls, and Rumi: Unexpected Gifts

Each fall, I search the woods for antler velvet, like other women might browse catalogs for good sales on winter coats.  It’s an odd habit, I admit. During the last few weeks of August and into September here in the rustic mountain community where I live, bachelor herds of bull elk congregate in the meadows and woods surrounding our home.  Even from a distance, you can see their engorged antlers grow thick with velvet as their bodies flesh out from rich mountain grass.  As the color fades from the brilliant Indian Paintbrush, the elk begin scratching their antlers on the trunks of sapling aspens and pines.  One day, while hiking with our Border collie Trixie, I followed four big bulls who had strips of velvet hanging from their tender, bloody tines.  I searched the ground beneath the trees where they stopped to rub their antlers, searching for a strip of shredded velvet, each time thinking this will be the place.  But it never was. I found shredded pieces of bark and fresh droppings