Thursday, May 15, 2014

Coyote Lovely

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, May 12, 2014

Some mornings are just not friendly for me. This is one of those mornings. It’s a painful start. Like a magic trick, it’s all in the wrists. I take my daily dose of painkiller, make the bed, and am grateful that the sun is, at least, partly out. Although it’s cold I may get out later. The pain will dull. It’s probably just the indication of an incoming storm. I’m your weathergirl.

While I eat my breakfast I see the cat hunting the ground squirrels. I don’t know what drives her moods, caprice? Most of the time she ignore them. Now, spurred by instinct, she pounces, and darts her paw into a hole, withdraws paw and self and hunkers down to wait. She twitches with anticipation. Silly cat. The ground squirrel goes to ground. Wisely, the ground squirrel stays in the ground until the cat loses interest.

I spend the better part of the day researching a trip I’d like to take to Montana when I leave the Darwin. Car rental costs, insurance costs, places to see, places to stay, food cost, gas cost, flights to the next place. It all adds up to a lot. I’m disheartened and unsure of my future plans.

A few minutes before 4:00, I gear up and hike across the east field, over the bridge, across the orange shrub (is this all sagebrush?) strewn pasture, around the river, and up the steep gray shrubbed (another version of sagebrush?) hill. I’ve not been this way before. A strange fear slows my steps. What if there’s a bear up there? What if the elk are in those trees and get spooked by me and charge? What silliness. I climb.

The view from the top is spectacular. The entire valley is spread out before me in colors of spring, orange-red, green, brown, yellow, blue. The river is littered with ducks. One of the Sandhill crane pairs is raising a fuss. There’s a sound like frogs. I don’t know if it is frogs or not.

To my right are two overturned plastic chairs, marking a frequented fire pit. The coyote has been up here. I’ve seen her prints in the mud all the way up the mountain. I see them in the hard packed snow still covering the ground beneath the trees.

Through the trees is the Professor’s cabin.

That same reluctance, like fear, causes me to approach slowly. Torn out bits of a chair cushion lay scattered over the little porch. It feels like trespassing to enter. But I do. The door is unlocked and I push it open tentatively. As if there’s going to be a bear hibernating inside. As if the professor is there. As if….

There’s nothing to jump out and get me. There is, however, a little dead mouse in the entryway. Rather freshly dead. After I’ve trespassed completely inside the professor’s little cabin, not wanting to linger long inside, not wanting to touch things or go through things, I use the shovel propped up against the outside wall to take the mouse and place it next to a tree. Rest in peace, little mouse.

I make sure the door is closed tight when I leave.

I follow the elk path down the mountain. It’s easier going down than up. It doesn’t feel nearly so steep which seems backwards. A motion catches my eye, there’s a large, dark figure crossing the eastern slope. I swing up the binoculars and glare through them. It’s a young moose! He makes his way along and I follow his path until he’s out of sight.

I see the red tailed hawk.

I love the red tailed hawk.

I’m nearing the Lodge’s fence line thinking it’s been a while since I saw a beaver when I see a beaver swim past.

The ground squirrels are omnipresent.

I sit on the porch when I get back and stretch out my legs. The cat takes advantage of the position and jumps into my lap. 

 There was snow drifting down when I left the Lodge at 3:56. There’s a different storm of snow drifting down now at 5:19.

I was very happy for what blue sky I got today. I was beginning to feel mournful.

There’s a mist creeping in from the west, northwest. It looks like another storm, only it’s too dark, too dusk to really see.

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Yesterday was what might be termed as a Blue Eeyore day. I wake up in a much better mood this morning. The sun, I can tell by the skylight, is showing without much cloudly hindrance. My pain level, though evident, is less. I’d slept better through the night, more soundly.

The phone rings as I’m heating up my coffee. It’s Loring. He’s wondering if I’ll go search Willow cabin for a box of blank checks he’s missing. “At your leisure,” he says.

After a sip or two of my heated coffee, I pull on my boots and go nose through all the cabinets, drawers, and files in the other cabin. No success. No checks.

I call Loring and tell him that I’m sorry I couldn’t have given him more joyful news.

The bald eagle flies over the river toward the east field.

Later, the coyote cuts across that same field and I watch her, happily, as she trots, runs, walks her way to the front of the property. She disappears down the embankment by the Kinky Creek culvert. It’s a good day. On my way to retrieve something from upstairs, I see her again. She’s gotten over into the western field, making her way along the fence line toward the north. I watch her until she vanishes behind the red orange sagebrush and doesn’t reappear.

I love the coyote.

I take my coffee, a book, my notebook, the binoculars, and my camera out to the porch and sit in the sun with the cat for insistent company.

There’s that moose again! Louis L’Amour did say that movement gives away position. Motion catches the eye. It’s true. The moose is near the front of the property heading upwards as if he’s going to go check the dam for me. What a day this is!

It’s the first warm day in ages. Warm enough for me to sit in the sun without my coat on. The cat likes the company. I’m reading Firefox by Craig Thomas. “#1 Superthriller of the year.” The book is one year older than I am. I saw the movie when I was kid. I wonder how awful that is.

I make some quinoa and put it together with the beans I’d made the other day. I add in some canned mushrooms and some leftover pineapple pieces.

I talk with my mom.

I eat my lunch.

The red tailed hawk sits for a brief moment on the east fence then it’s off again. Places to be.

I needed today’s warmth and sunshine.

A flock of black birds, at least thirteen of them, take over the front yard. I watch them through the window as I eat my dinner. There are some nuthatches, too. One of the birds has scarlet feathers over the black as if he’s wearing a red velvet vest.

I start another puzzle.

The moon nears full.

Caretaker’s Log, Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Partly sunny, already 37 something degrees at 9:00. Looks like it’s shaping up to be another bright, warm day. I’m glad. 

Six weeks here today.

I vacuum and sweep up. This makes me feel much better. Nothing like a cleaner living space.

In the afternoon, I startle three Sandhill cranes when I go outside to see what 50 degrees feels like in the wind. They fly away, protesting as they go. The clouds are filmy and make it too chill to sit outside comfortably. I don’t feel like gearing all the way up in order to force myself on the great outdoors.

Eleven months ago a friend of mine was lost at sea on his way to New Zealand. His dad messages me to invite me to a Celebration of Life they’ll hold in July in England. Although, they still have hope that maybe Matt is still alive, they’re taking steps to give family and friends a kind of closure. I’m touched by the invitation and filled with memory, sadness, joy, and kind hope.  
I get the last of the lemons out of the root cellar. I’m excited to find more cans of peaches. I’d thought I was down to only pineapple. Not yet.

I talk with Michaela.

It’s broccoli and peaches for dinner.

The owl is out who-whooing again.

What a sunset!

It’s going to be a full moon tonight. 
 I research transportation options for getting across Montana. Wikipedia sums it up nicely, “The public transportation system in Montana is sparse as a whole….” I find this to be, unfortunately, very true. In spite of that, I’m beginning to have the start of a real summer plan.

I go outside to watch the full moon rise over the trees. 

There’s a night bird sounding out in the darkness. I don’t know what it is.

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