Prowling around the hills
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
The spring weather has been continuing, and I've managed to get out every day for a three+ mile hike around the hills, seeing what I can see. The birds are coming in, but only the hardiest: the sparrows, meadowlarks, red-wing blackbirds, robins and killdeer are back in good numbers, but I haven't seen or heard warblers yet, and my sandhill cranes are nowhere to be seen. The pair of sandhills has shown up every spring for eight years, punctuating my mornings with their eerie mewling cry. I saw a single bird closer to town today, stalking a valley bottom, and hoped it wasn't one of "mine," because sandhills mate for life, and a solo bird is one that has lost its mate. Odd that I get attached to wild birds, but I know I'm not alone in that; friends who live in the Blackfoot river area are anxiously waiting to see if "their" trumpeters will make it back. And soon enough, I'll be going to fish for "Joe," a feisty cutthroat trout who spends his summers under a particular log in a difficult-access section of the river. After the third summer of catching the same sized fish in the same place, exactly, every couple of weeks, I clipped off the tip of his adipose fin so I'd know for sure it was the same fish. And it was. You'd think I could have come up with a better name than Joe.
Tonight I scared a small group of elk. Or they scared me. I came around a corner, deep in thought, and there they were, chowing down in the grass under the Ponderosa pine. I jumped-- my body registered "big animal" before my mind reassured me with "elk"-- but they didn't even sense my presence until I gave a sharp whistle and waved. Last night it was antelope and white-tailed deer. I was thinking about my friend Marilyn, who died today, from emphysema, after a lifetime of heavy smoking. She loved to hunt, but the last few years, she couldn't even get from the truck to a hunting blind. But the good thing was that, against all odds, she thought she'd get better. Her brother told me she still thought she just needed a little tune-up when they took her to the hospital on Saturday.
I'm sad about her, but it put my discouragement back in perspective. I mean, who gives a damn if you're a little overweight when you're alive and healthy?