As a Reno-going-away-present, I made one last trip to Trader Joe’s
and bought myself a Valrhona
chocolate bar. Being of Swiss-German heritage, I’ve always been biased toward Swiss chocolate, but this French dark chocolate was fantastic. Eat it slowly – one square is enough – and let the floral and berry aromas melt into your tongue. Now I just have to get Trader Joe’s to open a store in Minnesota, and soon :-)

14:25:07 PM

photo: bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) in bloom
For my birthday, Jenny and I went for a hike in Lake Maria State Park
. The scenery wasn’t all that pretty – it’s still mostly brown and grey (except for that bloodroot to the right!), and it’s been too dry to get much going. But the sun was warm and I felt irresponsible – or at least less responsible than I have in a long time.

It seemed like a lot of the wildlife in the park felt the same way. There were painted turtles sunning on every log, garter snakes rustling through the leaves beside us, and pairs of birds – hawks, blue-winged teals, and even trumpeter swans – no longer courting, but simply enjoying each others’ company.

Less visible, beavers kept to their lodges in almost every pond, even one of oak-leaved acid-black water. That pond’s beavers were the most ambitious, in the process of gnawing down a 3-foot-diameter oak.

A barred owl asked, but wasn’t answered. Deer bounded off, flashing white. As we left the woods for a clearing, a small, lavender butterfly (an Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas), I think), touched down briefly on the toe of my shoe.

And calling from deep in the park alone, echoing so long I still hear it, a loon.