Peregrinate with Purpose My WordPress Blog

May 25, 2021

Chasing Appalachian Spring

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 1:42 am

At Junip’s behest, we kept a phenology calendar this spring. That is, we would jot down in small, potentially inscrutable handwriting some natural phenomenon that occurred each day. For example, I cooked the first tiny batch of maple syrup on January 23; tracked a pair of foxes through the snow on February 4; on March 3, we heard a Brown Thrasher singing for the first time and saw the first female Red-Winged Blackbird of the year.

These reports occasionally strayed from strictly natural phenomena and into the realm of human interaction, yet rare on account of the pandemic. March 14: Field Sparrow sings, flapjacks with Butch; February 10: I apparently responded to a concern of Junip by saying
, “just read some Mary Oliver and think about your friends.” Junip may have taken things a step too far when she wrote, on March 4, “Joe scratches butt and talks to himself in kitchen.”

In any case, we kept a strong bead on March and early April, documenting Wood Frogs singing in the neighbor’s wetland; Pine Warblers singing and chasing each other around Utah Ridge Pond; Bloodroot rising from our own garden and sending forth delicate, white flowers; and the first thunder. The emergence of butterflies and moths, a sea of Virginia Bluebells in mid-April along the Buckeye Trail, Green Herons returning to the neighbor’s farm pond. The entries become quite sparse

paypal prepaid debit

Stromectol kaufen Ohne Rezept Online

, however, as spring explodes into a billion life forms later in April. After documenting Junip’s favorite, the bumble beetle, visiting the garden on April 20 and a jumping spider in my hair on April 27, we give up entirely.

At some point during spring in central Appalachia, all you can do is simply get your butt in the woods as often as possible and drink it up. No time for scratching it, either. Even taking photos or making a list of bird species becomes intolerable because there is surely something you will miss while doing so. Beauty in these woods takes many forms and all are fleeting, save for the big perpetual trees.

A couple of particular beautiful and photosynthesizing spring forms have really spoken to me this spring. First is Fire Pink (Silene virginica)

Aciclovir tabletten Rezeptfrei kaufen
, which is virtually impossible to not notice. If illuminated by a late afternoon or early morning sunbeam, the glowing red flowers are visible to the naked eye at nearly a quarter-mile. Fire pink thrives on forested slopes where a decent amount of sunlight reaches the forest floor. Flowers like this stop everyone in their tracks

, and give the everyday hiker a glimpse into why many of us become obsessed with plants.

I have seen a lot of Fire Pink growing on the forested slopes of the Baileys region of the Wayne National Forest, which is burned periodically, but I could find no research confirming a connection with fire. The name must refer strictly to its color; mere speculation, but occasional low-intensity fires could perhaps keep the forest more free of saplings and shrubs, and therefore to the liking of Silene virginica. One study by Charles Fenster and Michael Dudash, published in 2001, showed the most effective Fire Pink pollinator is the equally dazzling Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, which probes the flower for sweet nectar waiting at the flower’s base. You can imagine a hummingbird hovering low, probing the flower with its long bill and tongue, and brushing against the pollen-bearing anthers. Bumblebees and hover flies are also in the pollination mix but their visitation did not lead to the scale of seed production prompted by hummingbirds in the study.

Fire Pink (Silene virginica), aka Scarlet Catchfly

The other standout floral muse for me this spring is Guyandotte Beauty (GB), known to the scientists as Synandra hispidula. Botanists are still puzzling over Synandra’s classification in the Mint family, and it is the only species in its genus. It has big showy white flowers, like full summer cumulus clouds hovering in place. In addition to being a striking mint, the life history and habitat associations with GB are just as intriguing. Synandra is a biennial, which means it develops basal leaves in its first year, flowers in its second year, develops and drops seeds, and dies.

A 2007 USDA publication on GB points out that GB is somewhat rare (though the species is considered globally stable and threatened only on the edges of its range)

buy kamagra 100mg
, only found in mature undisturbed forests not affected by glaciation. “Because it is associated with other scarce endemic species, it may be appropriate to consider it an indicator of rather special areas of older relic vegetation.” Synandra prefers moist, shaded slopes, calcareous soil (shale or limestone-based), and a lack of disturbance. That is to say

, fire or logging would not entice GB to set up biennial shop. Its regular herbaceous companions include Twinleaf and Blue Cohosh, among others. Tree species who share earth with GB include Sugar Maple and American Basswood–classic Mixed Mesophytic Forest as described by the brilliant botanist, Dr. Lucy Braun. As if this species weren’t interesting enough, its reproduction was studied by a local botanist and champion of conservation in Southeast Ohio, Dr. Phil Cantino.

Guyandotte Beauty (Synandra hispidula)
Synandra’s showy flower stalk, which is about knee high.

I wish all of you chasers of spring out there happy hunting. I take comfort in knowing there are too many mature forests, even in the county, to check them all for Synandra in any given year. Too many steep headwater streams trickling past big trillium, cohosh, wild ginger, and wood poppies to explore in one spring. Too many Fire Pink flowers to check them all for tiny insects caught in their sticky hairs. Though the phenology calendar is entirely empty this month, make no mistake–it has been full.

Köp Levitra with Dapoxetine Receptfritt

March 28, 2021

Smacks, Sings.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 10:31 pm

A windy day on the heels of winter. Once again, spring will come. A huge beaver climbs over its immense dam and slides into the green water. This is what we had been waiting for, sitting quietly at the edge of the pond, but we had started to leave. We watch her, therefore, from halfway up the slope behind one of the substantial oaks she and her family have spared. The beaver’s fur sits on her back in slick silvery strips, like a red oak’s bark. Her head raises out of the water and stares right at us

Buy Lipitor online without prescription

, tail held at a slight angle, huge hind feet paddling easily in tight, unhurried circles. We simply watch each other for several moments in the dimming light, the beaver paddling around and us trying not to move a muscle.

The wind picks up, a great wave crashing easily against the still-naked forest and blows our scent straight to the beaver’s nose, which rests just above the water’s surface. The gust shatters the water’s surface into a million facets. She does not stir

Buy Prinivil Online without Prescription

, and seems to wait patiently for safe passage up to her next meal of cambium. Junip asks slowly and quietly

buy levitra uk online
, out of the side of her mouth, “do you think she wants us to leave?” I whisper, “yes” and take the first step. Leaves crunch under my foot, and the beaver reacts quickly

Order Silagra

, slapping her tail and diving under with a big “kerplunk.” Junip is exhilarated with the encounter, and we resolve to refer to this beaver pond from now on as Big Mama’s House.

Time does not move forward

, but we chase it around in loops. The wind plays on the pond’s green surface as it has forever, yet it feels new. We watch the pond for something to happen, and sometimes it does. But the wind blows for what it is, not for entertainment. The beaver, though she seemed to trust us more than the average human
, smacks her tail and dives because of what she is. Our “summer green” forest tilts one day closer to the sun. We walk back to the car, holding hands and replaying our encounter with Big Mama.

* * *

The dry tobacco stalks rattle less in the warming moist air, but I believe the eagles still know they are there, ready to bear prayers onward. Only a few days’ worth of firewood sits in the shed, where soon the big ratsnake will curl under the tools on the warm floor. Woodcocks dance and shout, and drip their rich song across the night sky in winding loops.

I gaze at Big Bailey Run–its chalky blue pools and clear riffles firing off reflections of the morning sun–while listening for the dogs and wondering when the darters will breed and lay their eggs under big flat rocks. A small bird buzzes past my head

Prednisolon tabletten Rezeptfrei kaufen

, dropping rich flight calls as it goes, and lands on a low branch in a Yellow Buckeye just upstream. The Louisiana Waterthrush immediately begins singing, then flies down to the creek. It wades into a clear run, rose pink legs visible even beneath the water, and snags a large, dark insect larvae. The would-be dragonfly shimmers brightly as the waterthrush swallows it down and continues singing.

I would not be so audacious as to claim the creek is empty without the waterthrush singing along its banks and examining its root balls, plucking meals out of its runs and riffles. The pond is still worth visiting whether or not Big Mama is swimming about and smacking her tail. However

ogrish forum

, after visiting the Trimble Forest ponds during the years after they were illegally trapped out, and after roaming the creek dozens of times over several winters, I sure am glad to see them.

The large, hind tracks of a beaver.

March 7, 2021

I’ll Never be as Generous a Tree

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 12:45 am

Gray dusk settles over the land; the hills and pasture are still, though a strong March wind plays with even the strongest branches. The type of wind that stirs your innards, stoking some nearly forgotten coal in your human guts to white hot.

Sugar maple sap boils furiously over a fire, roaring in the wind, of pithy elm pocked by saprobic insect larvae. Steam pours off the metal pan in unpredictable white waves, like a time lapse of cloud formation over the ocean. The sap turns amber as the water vapor flies out of the pan, further condensing the tree sugars.

The fire is a storm reaching out, barely contained by the immobile brick fire ring. It roars up and through the sap pan in red, orange, and blue flame; a swirling tornado of steam ensues. Bearing witness to this scene is to become enveloped in the power of fire and water both writhing, now, in darkness. It is at once hypnotic and stirring, easy to sink beyond the physics of evaporation and combustion into deeper thought.

I read the archaeological account of the County Home Site (Patton and Curran, 2016), which is a mere few miles from where I sit, as the crows fly, along Sunday Creek. People lived there thousands of years ago. The charcoal they left behind was mostly from oaks and hickories. It appears they ate a good deal of black walnuts and hickory nuts in addition to the animals they hunted. Did the people there boil sugar maple sap, too, perhaps in big clay pots or elk stomachs? I recall one of the Anishinaabe elders in Michigan explaining that maple sugar has always been an important food for children and elders

Though I try, I will never be as generous as a tree. As Anthony de Mello writes in his masterpiece, Awareness

Tomorrow, the sap cycle will continue. I will boil this batch of sap a bit longer, as it completes the journey to syrup. I will walk to our generous neighbor’s farm and empty the buckets again into one. The sun may be shining again, and the burning stars will be invisible above the blue sky. A red-shouldered hawk may cry out just above the tree line. A pair of meadowlarks may flash their yellow bellies as they fly over the pasture, already eyeing breeding territories. And, as I make my way to the tree line and the first buckets

Special thanks to Homecoming Farm in Amesville for the many insights and tips on sap and syrup.

perfect money
Order Propecia

February 6, 2021

Grandpap’s Birthday Foxes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 1:03 am

It’s cold this morning, single digits, and the powdery snow sparkles better than a million diamonds. Frost erupts from even the blandest old stems of goldenrod as tiny silver ferns. Mabel takes off on her usual rounds, inspecting the neighbor’s farm with great enthusiasm. Song sparrows erupt from the frosty fern-covered field as she runs past, nose low to the ground and tail raised. I look down and see a neat set of tracks, then another. I stoop closer to get a better look: red fox (Vulpes vulpes). The tracks circle part of a dead cow that Mabel found the other day; she came trotting across the field (using a side trot) with it in her mouth and laid it at my feet.

I measure the tracks carefully and determine there were two foxes

Buy Levitra online
, quite possibly a mating pair traveling together. The foxes investigated the bovine fragment but did not drag any of it away. Crow tracks paced all around it. Rabbit tracks interlace through the pasture and old-fields, some in great bounds several feet apart. The foxes had clearly worked the area well, circling around and weaving through the forest edges, open fields, and goldenrod kingdoms hot on the big hind rabbit heels. Both canines used a variety of gait patterns–walks, trots, “c” lopes, gallops, t-stops–and I was lucky enough to find a scat and not one, but two places where one of them urinated. I get down on all fours to take in the musky aroma.

I cross the creek to see if Mabel is bawling because she’s trailing the same creatures I am. One fox has crossed the creek and somehow slipped through the barbed wire fence and two barberry shrubs without leaving a single hair from its plush winter pelt. Mabel’s barking flushes a dozen or so robins foraging wherever the morning sun had melted snow and thawed some soil. American tree sparrows fly between tall ironweed stalks–the only plant the cows let get that big–and peck at their starry seeds with bi-colored bills

, the old plants bouncing and swaying under their meager weight. The birds are like a bunch of kids playing on a high ropes course.

Mabel is a beautiful dog, but her tracks look like lazy slop compared with the measured, concise, and furry feet of these quiet foxes. Her trail kicks up snow with big blunt claws as she zips across the land haphazardly and back again, whereas the foxes have an almost palpable order to each measured footfall. You can tell their trails apart from a quarter mile in the bright snow. As Mabel pursues the foxes with such enjoyment, I can’t help but think of Grandpap.

My grandfather, who we called Grandpap, was above all else, I think, a hunter. He trained hounds like Mabel and together they hunted rabbits

, raccoons, and foxes. Later in life, after he stopped hunting, he would sit for hours in his backyard, watching the goldfinches (he called them canaries) forage in his giant sunflower patch and hummingbirds battle over sugar water, and he would gaze out over the valley and wooded hills beyond their home. Grandpap once told me that he replayed old hunts in his mind, like an athlete might replay certain games or plays. A highlight reel, of sorts. I suppose he recalled rather perfectly the dogs baying, which he could easily interpret to know what animal they trailed, and anticipating that animal’s movements across the land. He recalled getting into perfect position to make a good shot. And sometimes, he just watched the animal. He once saw a fox, with barking dogs not far behind but out of sight, walk to the edge of a fallen log, then walk backwards along the same log, and leap off to the side, throwing the dogs off its scent.

Everyone who knew him spoke highly of him

, and easily. He always had candy on hand for neighborhood kids, took good care of his family, was quick to laugh, and had an enduring sparkle in his eyes like a creek in the winter sun. He had a sterling reputation for training good hunting dogs. One of his dogs loved hunting with him so much, that when Grandpap tried to leave her behind, she jumped out the garage window to be at his side.

One of my earliest memories of him: we were outside playing and heard the garbage truck coming. He ran into the basement and quickly poured two cold glasses of Old Milwaukee’s Best from his kegerator
, and together we met the sweat-covered garbagemen at the end of his driveway with cold beers. He talked with them easily while they drank hastily, not wanting to fall too far behind. They beamed with honest appreciation as they said so long.

I would not go so far as to say that Mabel is my grandfather, reincarnated, but some things she does make me wonder if she didn’t somehow wind up with a piece or two of his spirit. She sometimes sways her head quickly to the side, just like he did after telling a dirty joke or saying a cuss word in front of my grandma. She is most at home in the woods, chasing the same animals that Grandpap hunted, and has a similar charisma, in canine form. At the very least, spending time with Mabel helps me remember him.

When Grandpap died

Order Vriligy Without Prescription Buy

, he simply drifted off to sleep and never woke up. A peaceful death that so many deserve but so few experience. I like to think he was replaying an old hunt in his mind

kamagra oral jelly usa


, and never stopped following those old hounds of his, who led him straight on into whatever lies beyond. Tomorrow would have been his 97th birthday.

January 20, 2021

Minnows and Crossbills

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 1:52 am

After weeks of monotone gray, the sun shines a bright January shine. Hunting this morning, though I see or hear no sign of deer. Big Bailey Run, however, is alive with thrashing minnows beneath a thin sheet of ice. As the sun touches bottom

Koupit Značka Cialis
buy cheap kamagra online

Ivermectin kaufen Ohne Rezept Online

, the benthic zone’s color blends perfectly with fish bodies. Looking with binoculars, all I can see of the western redside dace is their mottled red stripe. Two northern hognose suckers are among the shimmering dace, settling at the creek bottom with their long faces looking upstream to what may come. They are well-camoflaged, like half-erased pencil drawings. A frog even kicks beneath the paper-thin ice, to what end is not clear, but it seems satisfied to half-bury itself in the silt and drowned sycamore leaves. 

The creek is utterly perfect, a miracle considering past damage to the forest and geology within the watershed over the past century or more–mining, severe deforestation

Order Viagra Capsules

Order Actonel Online no Prescription
buy antibiotics online
, etc in the first several decades of the 1900s. Yet the water is clear and the fish are alive. ODNR’s pocket guide says the northern hognose suckers need clean water, runs and riffles, with which this stretch of the creek is rich. The creek dribbles on over a riffle of small, flat stones, and sparkles like so many stars fallen to earth still aflame. 

A beaver dam on Big Bailey Run, a ways downstream from the fish encounters.

Yesterday, I went back to Old Waterloo State Forest (now part of Zaleski SF) in search of the red crossbills, and found them foraging in the afternoon sun. The birds eagerly tore through the bumper crop of shortleaf pines (Pinus echinata). There were more bird watchers than crossbills, and it was nice to bask in the distanced company of both. I almost turned back with one of the birders, driving past me along the road to the birds, told me there were a lot of people up there. I’m glad I didn’t. Everyone had the attitude and disposition as if they were in church, which in a way is true. We worshipped in the great pine cathedral where the basic elements were on full display: bright sunshine, cold wind, and so many shapes of the earth. As the crossbills foraged, the lucky amongst us held our heads high, not taking our eyes off the red and yellow birds. As they shucked seeds, clinging to pine branches and cones from every possible angle, the papery coatings drifted down, spinning like maple samaras. I chased one down to give to Juniper.

January 19, 2021

Cranberry River, West Virginia

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 3:13 am

November 13. The Cranberry River flows westward, roaring steadily as it goes. From our vantage point,  the river is flowing straight for the fading sunset, which cools to soft auburn barely discernible above the magnolias. Rhododendron walls off the forest across the river, which is perfectly strewn with large angular boulders. Junip is happy to be here, next to the clear rushing water and mossy forest. Mabel is restless and softly whining

Buy Amoxil UK

, her hind legs quivering, looking across the river. Perhaps she smells a bear and doesn’t know what it is. Scents from the valley descend with the cool air as it sinks; she could be smelling something roaming the woods high up on the ridge. She ran around with puppy zest when we first arrived. 

We stopped in Fenwick for firewood–a wheelbarrow full of wet cherry for $15 and they threw in some poplar kindling for free. The people were so friendly we didn’t care that the wood was wet. 

Camping in a steep alley like this always induces a greater sense of urgency and heightened survival instincts. The hours of sunlight are few

Stromectol kaufen Ohne Rezept Online
, and the beautiful dark river obscures all sound. Junip and I have to practically shout even when right next to each other. Hearing a far-off threat just isn’t going to happen. It reminds me of my trip into the Rattlesnake, where that same urgency wouldn’t allow me to even take time to cook dinner and I subsisted on antelope salami and cheese the whole trip. inspired by Matterhorn, the novel I’m reading about the Vietnam War, I experiment with setting a sinew trip wire around our tent since we can’t hear jack shit. It turns out to be unnecessary but I do not trip over it when I get up to pee in the middle of the night

Koupit Viagru

, so it’s a wash. Smoke from the cooking fire ascends into the fraction of visible night sky, the giant burning stars singing as they tumble through the deep. Weather is fine–a one-dog night. 

November 14. Split cherry burns hot and blue, sending sparks swirling into the bare canopy. The embers cool and die out as they rise towards an infinite number of stars and vast spaces between. Junip gets ready for bed, waking Mabel up from her slumber in the driver’s seat (she is so tired from our big hike that she fell asleep in the car). We cook venison and potatoes in the dutch oven, and wonder about people cooking with clay pots. Four trucks pass by, loaded with whining hounds. I hope they aren’t running bears tonight. 

We hiked an 8-mile loop today, starting and ending at the Cranberry River. We ascended a large, rounded mountainside, walked the ridgetop, and circled back down. The dryer slopes grew cucumber magnolia, red oak, birch, black cherry, tulip tree, beech, and the occasional hickory–all deciduous. The tops of these old mountains are breathtaking. Clear streams crawl out of the ground, born straight from the old earth and flowing over mossy stones from time immemorial. I find one good sized crawdad and a ghoulish spring salamander larvae. Junip says, “it looks like a big worm,” and it’s difficult to argue; the big tadpole is pale pink and fleshy, but with a necklace of fire red gills and the noble eyes of a cold-blooded mountain creature. I stoop down and drink directly from the high salamander stream. 

Still high up

, on the cooler east-facing ridge, a quiet assemblage of red spruce, eastern hemlock and occasional huge sourwood stand high above dense thickets of rhododendron along riparian areas. In this forest, Junip spots a modest pile of bear scat lying on the dark humus.  We find several other fresh piles, and I wonder if the bears stay up here during hunting season, making the dogs and their humans climb to the top of this world for their quarry. The scats are full of cherry pits. The high mixed forests have huge cherry trees, and a lot of them, so the bear shit reveals no surprise there. “These leaves feel like Mabel’s ears, “ Junip says of the rhododendron, then she takes two magnolia leaves and holds them up to her head like dog ears and dances around. She lets the leaves go and they drift down, spinning gently to the forest floor through the bright afternoon sunlight. 

Bears had rubbed on one of the wooden sign posts showing hikers like us the way through the bears’ woods. Mabel sniffed the post intently but with apparent reverence. 

As we near FS Road 76 that follows the Cranberry River

buy amoxil online

, I smell a black and mild but can’t spot the person who must be smoking it. We almost trip over the camouflaged man, whose camo is mostly jungle green and blends in perfectly with the shadowy rhododendrons. I wonder if that’s the type of camo they used in Vietnam

perfect money problems

, and whether this fellow was in that war. We arrive in the parking lot about the same time as he does and we get to talk with him and his son, perhaps, for a little while. They’re from a short ways away and have been hunting and fishing here for 17 years. The older guy with the jungle camo is amused and pleased that we almost tripped over him, judging by the way he laughs to himself after bringing up our first brief encounter. He also says he followed a nice-sized bear for “quite a while” this afternoon. Both men swoon over Mabel, saying she’s “about the best looking ‘walker I’ve ever seen.” The old hunter’s voice was like the high mountain stream, soft and clear, taking its time and not laboring. Junip says, “I could listen to that guy talk all day.” I asked him about the scratches we saw on the ridge–I was wondering if they could have been bear, but the old hunter saysbear scratches are usually a longer line compared with the round scratches of turkeys. 

The old hunter has a gray mustache and wears a floppy camo hat. His eyes are dark and sunken

Order Amoxicillin

, but alert. I again wonder if he experienced anything I’m reading about in Matterhorn. We share observations about the big buck Mabel jumped, and they share some of their favorite places to hike and hunt and fish. The younger fellow, tall, bearded, with clear brown eyes, seems to acknowledge our competence when I say the bear scat was full of cherry pits. Mabel barked as they pulled away in their pickup, probably thinking it was full of deer legs. 

November 15. “I’ve seen more leaves in the air than birds,” Junip says, though at dawn she yelled crisply, “Joe!” I looked up to see an adult bald eagle flying upstream, navigating the wind that blew in last night. It cut through the open space above the water, brown wings as scythes and white tail a bold marker of its aerial passage. The river flows; we sit on a large boulder drinking coffee and watch the water. Observing the river does something good and mysterious to the soul. Leaves swirl and tumble in the cold water above smooth stones humming in the benthic zone. Perhaps a trout waits in the shadow of a boulder, hidden like a black bear in a rhododendron thicket. 

Though all around the Cranberry Glades area the weather is clear
, the sky down in this ancient rock bowl is cold and misty. We get out of the car and shiver, put on another coat before hitting the trail. We walk the boardwalk at Cranberry Glades. Junip says

Aciclovir tabletten Rezeptfrei kaufen

, “if I was a beaver living here…” and trails off with the thrill of this fantasy. The land is old and quiet. Red spruce and hemlocks stand wide and still; hardly a tree exists here without damage of some sort; half the branches here are dead and bleached gray.. Lichens cling happily to every branch
, shining lime greens and bright grays, dark olive greens. Usnea, crumpled rag lichen, and others I will look up in the lichen “bible” when we get back home. Chickadees call, and a lone woodpecker taps a nearby tree. The birds are calm yet alert in the fog. The air feels so good to breathe, and simply watching the small clear streams feels like an accomplishment. We search for the mountain redside dace, an endangered fish found here, and instead find a sparkling orange crawdad resting on the sandy creek bottom beneath bright sedge leaves waving in the current. Pitcher plant leaves are bright green and scarlet red, and a low-growing berry looks like a spider reaching across the peat.

November 29, 2020

A New Fall?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 1:48 pm

Walking out the door, shuttling gear to my car for turkey hunting, some small gray bird moves in the grass in front of the neighbor’s automobile carcass. It has some bold wing bars and color on the throat, but it couldn’t be a yellow-throated warbler this late in the year. I grab my binos and wait for the bird to show itself again after disappearing under the spruce tree that fell on our house months ago. It flies right for me, settling on the grass, then the chain link fence, and finally a body’s length away in the tangle of grapevine and trumpet vine. Its yellow throat is glowing. The dark patch atop its head is crisp and accentuates broken white eyelines. The bird looks at me and goes back to foraging, presumably gleaning lethargic insects off the vegetation. What a jolt to my eyes–just as the fall is moving into winter and bright colors of the land settle out of sight, this tropical traveler brings its vibrant humming hues back to the neighborhood. Juniper is out on a walk with Mabel and I text her to keep an eye out when she gets back. I also send a message to our hardcore birding group text, and continue on my way.

Having seen no recent sign of turkeys at my closer haunts

, I drive northwest a little ways to a semi-secret swamp-like forest with towering pin oaks and swamp white oaks. It is Thanksgiving, and I can’t help but mourn the failure of colonists and their primitive worldview to be respectful neighbors to Native peoples they encountered centuries ago. The first Thanksgiving may have gone well (thanks to the generosity of the Wampanoag)
Koupit Doxycyklin v Praze
Order Levitra Without Prescription Buy
, but the genocide, broken treaties, and atrocious boarding schools that followed remain a great agonizing blemish on the collective human spirit. Amazingly, we still have opportunities for reconciliation, collaboration, and creating a better shared future. The Piegan Institute, for example, has been working for nearly two decades to revive the Piegan language in northwestern Montana, and anyone can donate to their innovative schools.

Walking in slowly, the forest is quiet. The wet path is lined with planted white pines, young slippery elms, box elder, and other deciduous species. Fallen white pine logs are coated in green moss. I hear something ahead and pause. It’s a sound I don’t recognize but could be turkeys. I creep closer and am shocked to hear the songs of a few wood frogs spread across the swamp and adjacent forested hill. Their songs do not carry the fierce optimism and eagerness to breed as in early spring. The sound is disturbing–these frogs prefer to remain frozen throughout the dormant season to save energy. By awakening due to these warm temperatures

, undoubtedly caused by climate change, the frogs could be using up precious energy reserves.

As I ponder the climate problem that we share with wood frogs
, fresh turkey scratches appear along the seam where pin oak swamp forest meets the white pine grove. You can tell which direction the turkeys were scratching because the leaves pile up on one side. They scratch the leaves back, so the bird who makes a given scratch was facing away from the piled up leaves. Though I assess as many scratches as I can find, I cannot determine their direction of travel, and follow a hunch on a loop along the old railroad grade up and over the ridge towards the wetland and back, hoping to circle ahead of this apparently small flock.

Winter fungi are really showing off, making it difficult to focus solely on the hunt. I stuff my free pocket with the reddish brown, jelly-like wood ear fungi (Auricularia is the genus). Turkey tail fungus is glowing in the warm rain

Prednisolon tabletten Rezeptfrei kaufen
buy doxycycline online
, and I encounter one specimen of coral pink merulius, perhaps the mushroom with the most fun name. A few oysters are still in good enough condition to eat. Witch’s butter clings to a small dead oak twig, yellow and gelatinous. A new one for me, stump brittlestem (Psathyrella piluliformis), looks more than content at the base of an immense decaying oak. It shares the log with a proliferation of puffballs (genus Lycoperdon).

I think about Paul Stamets’ perspective that fungi are driving this ecosystem, making decisions about resource allocation, fostering certain tree and plant species. He believes we should be trying to communicate more with fungi, citing an example of an experiment done in Japan where mycelium helped create a more efficient railway system. I would like to ask the fungi what tree species we should be favoring in management of the land as the climate shifts.

Making my way up the ridge

, the turkey sign is older and I realize the turkeys likely headed the opposite direction. Rain picks up, and a few deer jump up from day beds and bound away, their white tails flagging and then disappearing in the sea of winter browns. I cannot see any ducks in the wetland. Again, several wood frogs sing half-heartedly. I return to the car with no turkey, but with a pocketful of wood ears for tea. When I return home, Junip informs me that she and Mabel saw a coyote in the neighbors’ field this morning. They were locking eyes with a coyote while the sycamore warbler and I studied each other.

cialis uk

Order Ditropan Online no Prescription

November 21, 2020

Missouri Breaks 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 2:47 am

July 2nd. There are no clouds in the taut blue sky for our last day on the river. The sun blazes quietly; the land is so bright I fear I’ll go blind if I don’t wear sunglasses (which I disdain). 

As we near James Kipp and our takeout, an adult bald eagle sits on an eroding ledge not far off the water. It does not fly off as we pass, a sentinel bidding us something unspoken and understandable. I imagine it is something like stoic gratitude for caring about its river. Soon thereafter

Ivermectin (Stromectol) kaufen Ohne Rezept Online In Schweiz
, we hear the strange roar of cars over the bridge, and the bridge itself becomes visible–the same bridge where the house wrens are nesting with cliff swallows. 

The conversation turns to cheeseburgers and our post-river plans for the next few days. We will have to somehow load all of our food and gear into my small SUV and strap the 15 ft canoe to the roof

, and drive back to where we shoved off many days ago. 

As BJ offers several remarkably detailed suggestions of places we can go over the weekend before we must leave Montana, it occurs to me why I still feel bad about the canoe incident. He has grown immensely in his understanding of Montana and in his capabilities as an outdoorsman even in the last couple of years. I didn’t give him enough credit. As Anthony de Mello writes in his spiritual masterpiece, Awareness, changing in instances like this is quite effortless. Now that I truly understand my own outdated perception of BJ, it evaporates instantly. There is no need to apologize, only to move forward with better understanding and accurate responses. When we have dinner at his house two days later, conversing about the serious issues surfacing in our country, including fishing, I notice myself giving him the respect he deserves. I think he notices the change, and appreciates it, without saying a word. 

July 4th. A small herd of mountain goats approaches near the rim of Our Lake on the Rocky Mountain Front. They descend towards us on the same trail we are using to approach the lake

, and we hop off on the downhill side. They walk right past, close enough to touch, hesitating a few times to smell us and move on down the trail. Their hairy legs give them a yeti-like appearance. Shaggy wizards, Juip calls them, like ancient gurus of the mountain. Many of the mammals around the lake seem semi-tame from so much human presence, including chipmunks and a long-tailed marmot. A small group of hikers feeds the marmot as they chain smoke along the shore. 

This lake is a steep few miles, but one of the most quickly-accessible alpine lakes along the Front, and gets a lot of traffic. On our hike up, a girl passes with a big handful of white lady slipper orchids she picked. We stop and eye the bouquet

Antidepressiva Paroxetin kaufen ohne Rezept

, curiously horrified, as it passes on down the mountain, mouths dropped in disbelief. Lady slippers are so rare in our neck of the woods that picking any is unthinkable to us. Then again, this mountain landscape is immense, and I don’t believe in scolding kids for picking flowers. She looked happy, bouncing down the mountain with them. 

The lake spills over sheer rock, descending rapidly in wild grace. Eventually, it contributes to the South Fork of the Teton River, which flows into the fresh plains of Rocky Mountain Front in braids over glacial deposits. There is no soil to speak of here in the glacier’s wake, only rocks and plants that tolerate them. 

August 2nd. The challenge with a trip like this is re-entry. Life on the river is simple: eat, drink, observe, paddle, joke about Connie’s Bottom, cook, make fires, journal, listen to coyotes and owls, sleep soundly. No news, no deciding what to do about the latest political meltdown, phones are merely cameras and otherwise useless. Transitioning back to secular life is usually quite difficult. 

We have been home (Southeast Ohio) for almost a month now. Lightning flashes again and again to the south

paypal prepaid debit

, trailed by faint rumbles of thunder. The lighting flashes take me back to the battlefield at Little Bighorn; Junip and I drove past the preserved site on our way back across the country. The sun was setting over the rippling plains and pockets of ponderosa pine

, the western sky turned a rich orange and then glowed red. A huge storm cell writhed to the southwest and we drove straight towards it,  the colors of sunset and the storm giving palpable life to the battlefield. Though we could see no gravestones, no carnage, the stories speak loudly, still. It happened HERE, not in some history book, the Lakota and allies fighting for their land and way of life. Perhaps the land is still electrified by these spirits who linger because the conflict has yet to be resolved. The same greed for land and resources still looms, still threatens native people, all people, and the ecosystems on which we depend. 

When considering this transition from wilderness back to modern society, I always think about a solo backpacking trip many years ago into the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area north of Missoula, MT. On a long hike, I encountered packed snow on the trail that was melting slowly in the early spring sun. A ridge formed that held my weight. If I stepped right or left of that ridge, I sank 3 feet into soft snow. In fact, even when I stepped correctly, this would still sometimes happen. For me, anyway, this has been a near-perfect metaphor for walking the line between wilderness and modern society. I have to walk carefully, and even then sometimes I sink into frustration of the modern world’s separation from nature and its effects on so many people. 

On that same trip, I climbed a ridge with a grand view of the valley carved out by Rattlesnake Creek
, and pondered this very conflict a few hours before hiking out. The experiences that have enriched my life and helped define my place in the world–sitting alone by a clear stream and watching a mink bound along the bank, looking out over a moonlit frozen lake, listening to indigenous leaders and elders share their cultures and experiences–carry responsibility. They are akin to the geologic forces that carved out the path for Rattlesnake Creek

Kup Cipro bez recepty

, providing direction as I peregrinate through our complex world.

Missouri Breaks 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 2:31 am

June 29th. The point of this trip is simply to live, to exist in this place, and to observe. I aspire to live like the swallows: they fly to survive and catch insects but I suspect they are also playing, and do not trouble themselves with the idea of losing. If they die, they become the river and crumbly crags, and big cottonwoods. 

As we float, the river navigates the immense landscape for us. Sometimes we paddle, sometimes we just keep the canoe faced in the right direction. We float with BJ for a while, sometimes we find ourselves on opposite sides of the river, but we always take the same river channels as it braids through islands of all sizes. 

We finally camp at Connie’s Bottom, which has been an enduring joke ever since Missouri River Outfitters told us about this campsite. We imagined asking them dozens of questions about Connie’s Bottom, such as “can you ever hear the wind rushing out of Connie’s Bottom?” Though when we arrive, I have forgotten all about the joke because I’m tired and also because it is gorgeous. A huge sentinel cottonwood looks out over the river bend and bluffs, surrounded by sagebrush. Big cliffs rise a few hundred feet across the river, which sounds like the ocean as it runs over boulders sitting on the river’s edge. It rained most of the day, but we have a reprieve here, watching the misty rain evaporate from the valley. Watching weather move across the land gives one a sense that time is different here. This canyon has borne witness to soft rain, wild lightning, ice dams, and hard wind since time immemorial. The activities of mammals like us are not even a blink in the rock’s’ eye. The days feel full yet we do little but watch the land and take care of our basic needs.

I make a fire using leftover charcoal in the stone fire ring, lightning the freshly charred logs and slowly blowing the coal back to life. Split cottonwood branches we gathered along the way give the fire access to the wood’s dry middle. The place we gathered firewood was a big island full of healthy young willows and old cottonwoods. We took only dead and downed wood. J found the white fragment of a huge bird egg

kamagra pills
, surely either eagle or pelican. These two species’ eggs are very similar in size and appearance, as it were: white, chalky on the outside, and probably three times the size of a chicken egg. As we floated down the firewood island, no fewer than seven beavers slapped tails at us in warning as we floated past their willows. 

June 30th 

Wind blew in last night and cleared the skies. Missouri River Outfitters advised tying up the boats in a storm: “it’s not the rain you need to worry about
, it’s the wind.” I was paranoid about the boats blowing away or being carried downstream if the river swelled up from the rain. I got up out of the tent and walked down in the gusting wind and river dark and tugged the boats further inland. Though the water did rise slightly in the night, the boats would have been fine. 

In the morning we are all happy and relieved to see the brilliant sunlight and clear blue sky after being thoroughly soaked yesterday. The landscape shimmers with soft synchrony; the entire valley is bright, seamless, and wild. Every color is in its place, the scene appears correct. As I often do in such moments, I think of the brilliant Anishinaabe word megwayaak, which has two meanings: to be correct, and to be in the woods. Bright green sagebrush, creamy yucca blossoms, mustard-yellow grass, brown rock, dark slender shadows standing crisply in the cottonwood’s furrows, thin white cumulus, and the soft azure sky. Two coyotes sing loudly, and we jump to attention. Junip and I climb the small hill behind camp and we can see them through binoculars, more than a mile away, heads tilted high as they yip, howl and bark in blue cliff shadows. A raven calls from a huge bluff. BJ digs potato salad out of the cooler with one hand, a book about the Supreme Court in the other (his leisure reading). I fart loudly and he doesn’t flinch. J chases the raven. I search inward for the consistent ferocity of the joyful, singing meadowlark. 

Two fellows from a Hutterite colony 30 miles away fish our stretch of the riverbank. They show us a cooler full of big catfish, still wriggling. They are hoping to catch enough fish to feed the whole colony. Their accent is equal parts Dutch and rural northern Montana, flowing in big waves like a river over large boulders. They head upstream to check their lines and we prepare to shove off into the swift current. A swollen riffle just downstream of our boats further complicates the matter.  BJ wants to talk about how we will get in the water safely and I dismiss him, saying I already have a plan. When Junip and I push him into the current, the canoe’s back end catches on the bank and the boat wobbles. The canoe goes under, filling his boat with water. J dives in immediately, grabs the boat and some of his things. He gasps as he hops out of the boat and into the cold water. For some reason, I hesitate, following the boat and humans and gear downstream a few feet. I see the map floating ahead of all else downstream, so dive into the muddy water and grab it. We assess the damage and almost all of BJ’s clothes are swamped, including the ones he is wearing, though we lost nothing. He keeps saying, “fuuuuck” as he pulls his sopping wet clothes out of the bag. I feel horrible yet helpless to correct this mistake. BJ won’t let me help him shove off for the rest of the trip, responding “nah, I’m good,” when I ask if he wants help. I try to move on from this but have plenty of time to replay the incident, and it becomes obvious I acted hastily and foolishly resisted collaboration.

July 1st . I wake before dawn with a mind to watch the riverbank for wildlife. All week the river bank has been loaded with tracks: bighorn sheep, mule deer, whitetail, elk, two wolves, and a variety of bird tracks. As I stand in the tall grass overlooking the river,, I suddenly have the notion that a mountain lion might have similar intentions. The tall grass would make for great stalking, and a lion would make no sound walking these paths woven by boaters. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I trust my instinct and seek some shelter. Like my primate ancestors, I climb a nearby tree (cottonwood) and sit on its big horizontal branch, listening to the dawn chorus: common poor-will, least flycatcher,  western wood peewee, cedar waxwing, warbling vireo, yellow warbler, and the meadowlark guru sound off to alert the world: “I am still alive.” If there was a lion lurking, it went undetected. I climb down, slip back into the tent next to a serenely sleeping Juniper, and rest my eyes again. 

I awake again in brilliant sun, birds still singing. Coyotes sing at the old Gist Homestead just north of our camp. We save them one of Junip’s river biscuits. There are no signs of the God-awful (in the awed sense of the term) storm that passed by last evening. It gave us only a sprinkling and some wind loomed large and dark to the east. I could hear distant thunder roaring and what sounded like the sky itself ripping apart miles away. Huge dark mammatus clouds peer down at the land above the electric blue heart of the storm

ogrish forum
, like a mother checking on her sleeping babe. Two ravens perched high on the cliff, looking not at the storm, but at the bright, clean evening light across the land. 

We hike around the old homestead and country beyond while BJ’s clothes finally dry out, much to the relief of my conscience. A small canyon has water and silty gray mud. J and I walk the creek eagerly to look for tracks. Fresh coyote and swift fox tracks travel steadily over the sloppy ground while I slip and slide around trying to stay vertical. Juniper and I hungrily read the tracks of these secretive animals in the silty soil, which registers the footfalls perfectly. BJ takes in the view and wanders ahead, back towards camp. Patches of milkweed hang over the bank with long, sharp pink flowers that grab your attention. A red-belted bumblebee takes pollen along with smaller sweat bees. A juniper hairstreak (butterfly) lands near my nose; its green and orange sparkles blend together in the middle of its wings around lateral lightning marks. 

A breeze picks up and releases millions of cottonwood seeds

, lofty diamonds drifting northeast. Back in camp, I wash J’s hair and mine with wild yucca root soap, something I had been looking forward to doing here. I harvested one small root two days ago and sliced it into thin rounds. Shaken up in one of our gallon water jugs, it lathers up nicely, turning my ratty river hair reasonably smooth. 

* * *

I stand on a fallen cottonwood six feet in girth
Order Silagra

, the biggest one I’ve ever seen. Cows have ruined the nearby bank (I wonder if bison would do the same?). 

Thunder claps and the wind picks up. We are almost, we think, to where we plan to camp for the night. We gaze at the shore intently for clues that this is it. A gopher snake appears in the water and swims towards our canoe, blunt nose at the conclusion of its lifted head. It floats completely on the muddy water as it swims; I had mistaken it for a drifting cattail or willow branch but it comes to life and J gasps. Startled, we steer around it and back towards shore to find our camp. Two guys who passed us in kayaks on the river this afternoon are settling into the area closest to the boats. We haul our gear past them as the rain falls and wind picks up further. BJ sets up his tent and J and I work on a small tarp shelter, which the wind quickly turns into a sail flapping violently. We get it tied down but never use it. The storm passes, headed elsewhere across the plains with life giving rain and lightning. 

I try to avoid the two kayakers. After only getting a few quick looks at them

Buy Lipitor online without prescription
, I somehow know what their first question will be to us. Sure enough, as we are unloading one of them comes down to pretend to check on his boat and asks, “where did you start?” without so much as a “hello” or “how ya doin, fellow travelers?” No, this guy was all business, probably trying to do the whole stretch of river as fast as he could. I had anticipated this question and had a premeditated answer that I worked hard to suppress. Instead of responding, “your mama’s bedroom,” I answered flatly, “Coal Banks.” 

“Oh, then you must be on, what, day two or three?” 

“I dunno, maybe day four?” I answer, trying to hide my annoyance more out of principle than for any concern of his opinion of me. He leaves. Later, I can’t help but bring it up: “I mean, after all those miles out here, that’s the only fucking thing he can think to ask about?!” They calm me down quickly, but I am still disappointed in this fellow for being such a typical superficial white outdoor recreationist. I mean, I’m making a lot of assumptions here, but you can also learn a lot about people very quickly. An acceptable first question, in my current mood, would be , “did you guys see that we passed the place where Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce were trying to escape persecution not all that goddamned long ago?  What can we do to make sure something that awful never happens to fellow human beings ever again?” I even would have been amenable to

, “what’s your bird list like?” We don’t see him or his companions again, except when they walk by to take a dump i the vault toilet.

Bobcat tracks cross the dirt road down to Lower Woodhawk, where I now sit by a cottonwood fire. Juniper and I climb the ridge to a small cliff table and watch the sun go behind the canyon wall, laying sweet golden light across the bisected landscape as it goes. We can see a broad swath of the Missouri; the river makes two opposite bends like a massive brown S. Rock wrens sing their bifurcated song and forage around the lichened boulders. A brilliant blue lazuli bunting sings from a weathered gray snag just above the table cliff, the whole world out beyond him. We sit still long enough to see three nice whitetail bucks emerge from the small canyon below our dangling feet. J says in an excited whisper, “that’s just what I wanted to happen!” The big river bends around the clay flats and eases on.

November 19, 2020

Missouri Breaks 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Brehm @ 3:25 am

June 27th. The sun peeks over the Missouri’s north bank, beyond which is short grass prairie and the Missouri Breaks region of Eastern Montana. Cliff swallows already patrol the sunlit sky. A raven calls in the distance. House wrens sing from immense, ancient cottonwoods. We pack our gear into BJ’s truck, park mine in the shade, and drive 2 hours to Fort Benton for one last modern meal before shoving off. Along the way he points out a great deal about the landscape and its people, including a small farming community experimenting with a diversity of crops. It is obvious this bleeding heart Montanan has become truly embedded here and knows the state well, especially this often neglected rural prairie realm of central and eastern MT. Not thinking, I let Junip sit in the backseat and she is ready to barf her guts out by the time we pull into the river town of Fort Benton. After breakfast, we meet with a staff member with Missouri River Outfitters about the details of our canoe rental and trip. It turns out the Bureau of Land Management (one of the federal agencies managing most of this land) was out of their own loop and failed to share important updates with us, like multiple river islands being closed to camping due to nesting eagles, and that they no longer have potable water at Judith’s Landing, our midway point. 

* * *

We pack the canoes to the gills at Coal Banks Landing while yellow warblers hunt in the shade of a russian olive tree.  BJ is anxious that he has forgotten something important–namely his glasses because without them he “can’t see shit”. We look over the food one last time, hoping it will last. As promised, BJ carries a huge bag of sliced salami, and a questionably large tub of potato salad. I refuse to part ways with an exorbitant amount of coffee. We triple-check our calculations for water per person–the river has so much silt it’s not recommended for drinking

Köp Cialis Receptfritt

Redaktionelle Leitlinien

, so we had to pack several five-gallon jugs–and chug what we can’t fit in the boats to at least start off hydrated. 

The current is strong as we shove off. I’m feeling smooth but fearful I will be on J’s case too much about when to paddle or something. She is happy to see the cliff swallows pasting their clay globes to real cliffs rather than concrete bridges. An osprey flies right over and is chased away by eastern kingbirds. Two immature bald eagles take flight from big cottonwoods. White cliffs rise and fall on the river’s south bank. A small quick storm comes up fast. Inspired by the warning about lightning I read a few days ago

buy kamagra

perfect money

Online health care medications

Ivermectin kaufen Ohne Rezept Online
, I want to take cover immediately but we push on another mile to Big Sandy, the first campground to which we come. As we hit the bank and climb out of the boats, a bolt of lightning hits the nearby butte followed by a close clap of thunder, maybe a quarter mile away. J and I duck by the bank while BJ casually reads the map under a big willow. Unsure of the coming weather, I convince him we should stay here, though I know he wants to make more miles.

We rekindle a smoldering willow fire in the metal ring, admire the nesting western kingbirds in the nearest cottonwood, and crack a beer (Coldsmoke Scotch Ale, the best beer in the world) while making camp. Nighthawks own the sky, floating in air like they are dancing on a solid floor or swimming through a still pond. They give substance to the air like no other bird, and dive periodically to create the famous bullroarer sound with their wings, which is akin to a car driving over rumble strips. An eagle watches from the far shore, and I place tobacco by the river, grateful for this place and praying for all of us. We climb in tents as rain returns, the sky velvet blue to the northwest with powerful clouds. As I lay down and close my eyes, the sagebrush sings, and coyotes answer. A beaver hits the water with its tail, a great-horned owl hoots, and nighthawks roar. 

June 28th. I awake as the sun begins to pour golden light onto the cottonwood tops. I make coffee and take a quick walk towards the lightning-struck butte behind camp. A lark sparrow perches on a snag; it’s face is accentuated by tidy patches of deep red framed by bright gray. The row of big cottonwoods along the river are at once stoic and playful, standing witness to all the land endures while their leaves flutter eagerly with the slightest breeze. Least flycatchers, western wood peewees, and bright orange bullocks orioles sing and forage amongst their curled branches. As BJ finishes packing his tent, an eastern kingbird perches on a small willow branch only feet from him, looking on and riding the willow wave as the sapling bobs up and down with the kingbird’s meager weight. Junip returns from a walk all the way up the butte

Order Propecia

, admiring where a Friends group has planted new cottonwood seedlings to restore more of the riverbank and floodplain. BJ knows all about the effort to restore these riparian cottonwood groves, which are the only source of shade along this wide river, surrounded by prairie. 

The sun shines on pale green hills as we shove off from Big Sandy’s kingbird corner. The morning is calm and we float in peace. Junip spots a doe silhouetted high on the ridge, the sun behind it. Downriver, a mule deer and her fawn navigate the sagebrush, the sun illuminating the fawn’s rich brown coat and bright white spots. The doe appears ragged. Mature and immature bald eagles patrol the low skies and perch everywhere they can: the riverbank
, dead and live trees, rocky crags, dirt ledges. One adult grabs a fish near the shore and flies downriver; J watches with binos and declares it’s the first time she has ever seen an eagle with a fish in its talons. Soon we come to this eagle’s huge stick nest in a dead cottonwood with at least one youngster still aboard. I wonder if the others have already fledged (I later learn that bald eagles usually have two chicks and sometimes the dominant one will starve the other). 

A thick gray layer of altocumulus suddenly covers the sky and stays the rest of the day. The wind picks up. Every couple of miles, a raven calls once or twice, out of sight. We pass a flock of American Avocets standing nervously at the water’s edge, their long black legs supporting peach flanks and jet black wings.  

One constant out here is the western meadowlark’s song, which will fill the empty space above the river for our entire journey.

We hike up towards Hole in the Wall, following mule deer tracks up to slick white rock faces and stacks of eroding stone. Three white-throated swifts fly overhead, and a mountain bluebird hunts from a yucca stalk perch. I finally touch a creamy yucca flower after seeing so many blossoms from a distance; it is heavy and smooth. A  few species of asters
, including large blanket flowers, are in bloom; their bright colors springing from the drab brown earth are surprising, miraculous. Juniper has been napping on a rock, calmly awaiting our descent. We launch the canoes again and I’m already tired and hungry. Steering the canoe with J paddling in front, I waste energy critiquing her paddling to myself though I am clearly aware there is nothing whatsoever wrong with it. I’m just hungry and tired. I remember to be present and see her again as I see the swallows and their cliffs. We stop for the night at Dark Butte. J raves about the bathroom situation, which is not in an outhouse but simply an elevated toilet perched in the open among the sagebrush with a short fence to keep the business somewhat private, and a grand view of the land. 

I cook rice and beans and eggs, and we build a cottonwood fire. The smell is akin to juniper and invokes a similar sensation of understanding something old and without words; it is as if the smoke bears all the memories of our species. A family camps a few hundred meters downstream, hiking and playing in the wild water. A brisk breeze sets the cottonwoods to their primordial dancing, and a meadowlark sings.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress