By Alkali Springs Correspondent
Well, gentle readers, at long last it is September. Labor Day is over and maybe the longest hot spell we can ever remember is coming to a close.
It has been so hot, it has even done strange things to the wildlife around our tiny little Bear Paw chalet. For instance, when the coyotes do sing at night, it is a very mournful song that is combined with a sort of loud coughing and gagging sound carried plainly through the hot smoky night skies. And even more strange, every bird that we ever had at the bird feeder has left and there are none to take the place of absent ones. There is just one who sort of chortles a cry early each morning, just before daylight, as if to announce that it will be hotter today then it was yesterday.
Gravel roads are so dry and washboardy that it makes travel dangerous even at speeds of 15 mph.
And when it comes right down to it, we think that even the snakes have moved on or fried. We have not seen even one on the roads for a month or more now.
In some respects, this is a worse year than the great drought year of 1988. At least then the wildlife was more calm and peaceful. Why, we even have a coyote who stalks and paces most every afternoon down by our gate. Is he looking for a meal? Or water? Or our dog to take back to his pack? We don't know, but it is sort of unnerving to see him pacing, maybe three or four times a week always at the same spots. Always looking grim at best.
Now don't get us wrong. There have been beautiful times of late, too, in the beautiful Bear Paws. There always are. The other day we took a walk through a fir forest that was high up on a mountain. And do you know, when we were wandering through those thick woods on a game trail of sorts, it was hot down below, but the forest itself was as cool as could be. And there was even a joyful anthem of chickadees and Clark's nutcrackers to accompany our walk.
A little farther on, we noticed that we were sharing that forest with a doe and a couple of fawns. And then we got to the top of the mountain. Granted, it was a day that had not became polluted with smoke, so we could see mountain range after mountain range far into the distance. The Missouri Breaks even showed their trees to the top of our mountain and far into Canada the air was pure and sweet.
It made us realize that even in times of hot, hot days and a horribly hot and dry summer, the mountains are still as incredible as any part of Montana, and that we, like so many others, gain an enormous amount of strength from the beauty of the beautiful Bear Paws and the vastness that surrounds them.