|Fading Daisies & Tall Dry Grass|
|Hot Hazy Mountains|
|Casting the Moyie River|
|Or Personal Cooling Pools?|
|Moyie River Frog|
|Fish Out of Water|
My old apple tree dropped half its fruit, this after my cherry tree dropped its blossoms and leaves. Elmira Pond recedes and I notice more shorebirds this year. Typically, the bog pond has no definitive shoreline with boggy reeds and grass dropping off into deep pools. Now I can see that dry edges are sandy.
Trees stand tall on the mountain slopes and peaks are hazy in the distance. Is it the heat or a hint of smoke? I pray that if we have no rain clouds, we have no lightning. Panhandle Idaho counties issue fire restrictions, yet trains and trucks can spark a grass fire. Just last summer an RV smoldered our roadway after it threw a hot bearing.
I said then, and I'll probably say it every year, the west is a tinderbox in summer and fire a constant danger.
It's so hot that even the mountain canyons with gurgling creeks and rivers fail to cool as usual. Still, we escape the 100+ F heat pounding us like a physical weight and drive around in hopes of relief. The first day, the only relief we find is in the air conditioning of our car. Our house has none.
The second day we attempt escape, we drive our car further up the Moyie River just south of Canada. Slender meadows snake along overgrown creeks like grassy pockets between thick conifer forests. Tall burned stumps from the 1910 fires still stand as silent warnings. Ranchers still graze cattle among these stump ranches, a British Columbia phrase for undeveloped ranch lands in this region.
Though we follow a graveled road in remote wilderness, train tracks remind us of the industry that settled this area. At one crossing we find a ghost town: Meadow Creek. It's the same era and industries that formed Elmira out of a population of railroad workers, loggers and stump ranchers. Just as Elmira had a dance hall, so did Meadow Creek.
Though these Panhandle towns feel like sisters, Elmira continues with a sparse population and this place hosts a campground among remnants of foundations and memories. There is no Meadow Creek Schoolhouse, no whisper of children chasing marbles on the wind. Long ago I learned from range riders how to spot ghost towns, abandoned ranches or miners cabins -- look for rhubarb and lavender lilacs. Often they are what outlasts people.
It's too hot and dusty to poke around the town-site so we find where the creek trickles into the Moyie River and wade into its cool flow. This is the relief we've sought and I nearly weep for joy. Todd casts flies mid-river, slipping on slick rocks and I perch on a small boulder near stoneflies with my feet in the water.
What I used to think of as "fish traps," built up rocks to pool water, I now see used as personal pools. Campers sit in bathing suits along the Moyie River and we all enjoy its peace. How long has this spot been used as natural air conditioning? Did the range riders know of hidden pools discovered while pushing cattle to summer meadows? Did townsfolk gather here, women lifting skirts to wade, men swimming shirtless and bootless further from the shore?
Maybe this jut of land has long been a gathering place. Kootenai must have fished for native trout here and gathered huckleberries. Now it is perfect for pitching a tent and back then it would have been perfect for pitching teepees. This ancient cooling place still serves a purpose.
Reluctantly we leave, wishing we had a tent or simply a mattress to lay out beneath the stars and pines. It's cooled off enough to ride with the windows down and relish a long summer sunset. We find another fishing hole with shoreline frogs and a riffle that hides a 14-inch brook trout. Todd is pleased as he releases his catch back into the Moyie. I watch hummingbirds flitting in the canopy of cottonwood trees, wondering what feeds them once all the blooms fade away.
We get close enough to Canada to have to turn around, but make one final stop along the Moyie before the border. It's twilight and a waning moon, light enough to pink the skies and see the iron sculptures of trout winding through the grass in some strange tribute to industry and wilderness. We eat a dinner of cheese, crackers, hummus and cherries while mosquitoes feast on our ankles.
No amount of heat ever kills off those little beggars.
Linking up with Abracabadra for Wordless Wednesday, aware of the irony but grateful for the no-rules invitation of the blog hop hostess. Photos by Charli Mills.