Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Wandering Story

Whining Water Dog
A New Course for Grouse Creek
Changing the Flow
Water Pools Around the Reading Rock
Pools Deepened
Fish Trap or Art?
River Rock and Water as Art
The Reading Rock
Seriously, It's a Moose
Not all adventures begin with battery cables. Sometimes they work just fine and you drive past the point of no return when your husband asks, "Does that look like the northern or western sky to you?"

Well, that's what he asked, and I said, "I don't know," meaning I have no idea where we are, where we are headed and the sky, north or west, is pinking into sunset.

Thus the adventure began after Todd and I escaped the afternoon summer sun beating down on Elmira Pond. It was too hot for birding, too hot for jamming and too hot for writing. So we wandered.

Blue Goose carries up into the Cabinet Mountains and we explore familiar terrain. Sort of. After walking through the forest to find my favorite reading boulder of smooth granite, I realize that Grouse Creek has changed course. Human hands have hefted a trail of river rock to create a series of dams and flows. My reading rock is now surrounded by a foot of cool water gurgling past into an s-shaped funnel.

Todd says it's a fish trap. I say it's someone's summer art. He's taking the angle that such work must have practical results. Art is not practical, but felt deep in the soul. I can feel the design of the water and marvel that someone would use rock and water as a medium. There are no trout trapped in it's deep pools so Todd fishes down creek.

It's peaceful up until the third time Grendel returns, whining. At first I think he's whining because he can't find Todd and Bobo. Then I think he's whining because he's wet and shivering. But the third time he returns and scrambles onto my lap as I sit on a boulder in the creek, I think he's whining scared.

The sun has dipped behind the tall pines and shadows deepen. I say, "To the truck," and Grendel wastes no time bolting down the forest trail. I follow, taking my time, walking with my mountain mahogany stick that I call my bear-nose-buster. The forest is quiet, not a crackle of stick, just the flow of water from behind me.

Grendel is waiting, whining at the door of the Blue Goose. I open it and he leaps onto my seat, muddying it with his big paws. He then sits in the driver's seat as I climb in behind him. No problem, I can continue reading with what light is left.

Then I do hear a crackle from the trees ahead. Grendel's brown eyes bulge in his head and I know it's not Todd returning. My eyes adjust, looking into the shadows and not 25 yards to my right is a moose. "It's not a bear," I tell Grendel with relief. But then I realize she, it's a female moose, is on the trail that Todd will return on and he has Bobo, fearless, unlike her brother.

I think about calling Todd to update him to the moose-on-the-trail situation, and laugh at the absurdity of modern life. What would the legend of the bear and Daniel Boone had been like if he could have called his wife and said, "Honey, grab the blunderbuss."

Snapping a really poor photo that results in something like a moon-eyed black Gumby among trees, I hear Todd. His voice carries from the forest service road, not  the trail. I quickly jump out of the truck and start calling Bobo who trots right over to me. Good girl! She never has time to see the moose before I lift her back end into the truck (she has a gympy back end that needs an extra lift in to the 4WD).

Close Up of Gumby
"What moose?" Todd asks. Looking at my digital camera he next asks, "Where?" I point to the trees ahead and Todd tells me to "Hold onto Grenny." He has no idea how scared Grendel is. The dog is not going to chase after the moose that Todd now wants to see. But no such luck; she has slipped into the shadows and we leave, taking a wrong turn.

Thus we arrive at trying to discern direction by a glowing evening sky. We wander through dark pines, hidden meadows and end up in the middle of a logging job. We crest a ridge and follow a logging road which might be for the trucks, but looks more like a skidder trail. Just as Todd turns on the headlights, we see a house.

"Civilization," I shout! Todd laughs, and I realize that we are still in the middle of nowhere. Northern Idahoans are famous for potatoes and living as survivalists in the backwoods. But soon the smattering of solar panels and plyboard houses give way to ranches and tree farms. We end up on Elmira Road right across from our own house!

The pond is dark, the air has cooled and we now know where we are. For the moment.

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