Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Girl Who Cried Bear

Caretaker’s Log, Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Mother's Day. And it's Sunday so I water the plants.

This is a day that gets away from me and I'm not sure how.
In the morning, the cat and I walk up the road looking for flowers to photograph for the daily Instagram posting. I don't find any. But we do see a gigantic werewolf print on the road and a live chipmunk eyeing us from the trunk of a fallen tree.

On the way back, I stop off at the root cellar and collect the last eight eggs.

I make pancakes for breakfast. It seems like a Mother's Day kind of thing to do.

Over the course of the day I compile a grocery list, see an eagle fly over, read a few chapters of a book with the cat in my lap on the porch under the fleeting sun, listen to music, sweep, wash dishes, finish the impossible puzzle, watch the Sandhill cranes fly over, send off emails about the upcoming weeks, talk to my mom, talk to my grandmother, eat an omelet for dinner, put a roast in the fridge to thaw, and keep the fire going.

While I'm having my dinner I see the cat run across the yard in an attempt to catch the northern goshawk who might have gotten another ground squirrel.

I wind down in my usual way. Write for a while. Have a glass of wine. Watch a show. Go to bed.

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, May 11, 2015

After I've done all the morning things, had my cup of coffee, and done the crossword I make cookies and a double batch of granola. I talk to my mom while things bake. I eat granola for breakfast.

I have a can of sliced pears for a snack.

It's 1:30 by the time I've got the kitchen back to clean and things put away.

The sun is out for the first time in days. I put on my hiking boots and head over the treacherous bridge and follow the path that runs beneath Sportsman's Ridge. The elk are on the slope. The geese call out a warning and the elk trot up the hill, behind the trees, and out of sight.

As I go I see big tracks. I convince myself they’re bear tracks. I'm like a skittish animal even though the tracks aren't fresh, looking forward and back and up the trail and down to see if I’m alone there or not. I walk to the face of Sportsman's Ridge and sit on a rock and listen to the frogs, the birds, an eagle’s shrill cry. I watch the bumblebees bumble, the little butterflies flit over flowers and sage, a variety of ants scurry over the dirt, and the eagle search for food. The bluebird of happiness flies by, poses on an orange-faced rock long enough for me to get a few pictures. I sit on my own rock and feel lucky, so lucky to be here.

Back at the lodge, I take some time to sit with the cat. After consulting The Peterson Field Guide Series: A Field Guide to Animal Tracks I'm convinced the tracks were not bear after all and were wolf or a very hefty coyote. Actually, I think, as I pore over the pictures in the guide, the tracks most closely resemble an Alaskan malamute. But that seems just as unlikely as it being a werewolf’s tracks. I feel like the girl who cried bear. One day I may really know the tracks.

I take a bath. Wash my hair. Start a load of laundry in the kitchen sink.

I make salmon, rice, and asparagus for dinner. I call Grandmama while it's cooking. The line beeps as we’re talking and I click over. It's Melody, Loring's wife. She's kindly offered to do the grocery shopping for the food I want brought in and wants to go over my list to make sure she has it all right. Then she encourages me to get more zucchini, some oranges, more fresh stuff, more, more. In addition to that, I add a few more things of my own to the list. Then it's done. I thank her and we hang up.

I call my grandmother back and apologize for the disjointed conversation. Then I eat my dinner.

As I'm finishing up, the eagle flies into view. Then there's the osprey.  In fact, the eagle is after the osprey. The eagle dives and the osprey drops the fish it had caught. The eagle claims it out of the grass and flies off with the osprey hot on its tail. To no avail. The eagle, thieving bastard that it is (or opportunist), has no intention of dropping the stolen fish.

I wash up the dinner dishes. Wring out the laundry and hang it to dry. I write for a little bit. Get my wine. Watch a show. Go to bed.

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, May 12, 2015

There's an eagle on a far northeast fencepost. It looks like it’s watching the nearby grazing elk.

Michaela calls when I'm about halfway through the daily crossword. She's back in Mexico. And glad to be.
After I've had my coffee, I clean out the fireplace ash. I pull some meat out of the freezer to defrost. I call my mom to ask if I can boil a frozen chicken. I haven't cooked meat for over seven years. There’s a lot I don’t know.

Then I get to it.

I make a trip out to the root cellar to get the cabbage, a few cans of this and that, an onion, carrots, and potatoes. Back in the lodge, I start the chicken boiling. I get a pot of rice cooking. I chop some onions. Wash the potatoes. Slice up the cabbage only to discover it's too far gone with mold. However, the coleslaw day is not ruined; I have sauerkraut. I grate some carrots. And so on.

The phone rings. It's a guy doing a survey of Wyoming people about health and food. I try to explain my situation as caretaker. But he can't quite grasp it. "But you live in Wyoming?" he asks. "For now," I tell him. We go through it all again and finally he asks me if I am a resident of Wyoming. I tell him I'm a legal resident of Colorado and he thanks me for my time and hangs up.

Well. Fine.

I make a couple more trips to the root cellar and once or twice go out to check things at the generator shed. At the end of the day, I have a casserole to freeze, one tub of potato salad, a tub of very tasty sauerkraut coleslaw, and a pot of rice.

It's a start.

Three of the guys will arrive tomorrow.

I wash up a mountain of dishes and realize it's dinner time. Time to cook something else.

I call my mom to ask a freezer-reheating question, talk to my grandmother, sweep the floor, take out the trash, burn the burnable trash, feed the cat (and the ground squirrels and a mouse or two), and watch two geese foraging in the front yard.

Gerry, one of the men set to arrive tomorrow, calls to verify the lodge’s number and to ask if I need him to bring any food supplies for me. The connection gets crackly and bad. We yell, "See you tomorrow," at each other and hang up.

I make an omelet with the last two eggs. Eat the leftover asparagus from last night. Then I wash up those dishes, put all the jigsaw puzzles away, wipe down the table, and bring in some wood.

It's been a full day.

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