The trip of the goat
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In Virginia, squirrels and other wildlife stay away from you. They know they likely will end up on a plate if they get too close.
So imagine my surprise when a mountain goat comes tramping down the High Line Trail in Glacier National Park, just out for an amble like he owned the place.
Other hikers who stood off to the side of the path to let him pass joked with the hikers trailing the goat that they lucked out with their tour guide assignment.
One hiker, a boy, about 9, was particularly jealous of the people on the tour.
"Mom, if the next goat doesn't have a big group, can we go with them?" He asked, perfectly serious.
I had to laugh. I couldn't help myself.
All the adults knew there was no way the goat was a tour guide. But to the boy, there was no reason he couldn't be.
He hasn't been tarnished by sarcasm and cynicism, yet. He's still taking things at face value. How refreshing.
Why not, though? Why can't we accept the extraordinary?
The goat could very well have been a tour guide in my imagination. I can hear him now, describing the flora and fauna.
"This shoot of grass is juicy with a crisp after-taste of rainwater," he would say, inclining his horns toward a clump of green stuff.
"The hubbadubba flower has spicy notes under a refreshing citrus chorus."
Really, only a goat would know that, but because I couldn't bring myself to ask him, I never will — another one of life's mysteries left unsolved because my grown-up brain can't quite grasp the simpleness of the universe.
The boy gets it, though.
Further down the trail, he asked if several bighorn sheep were tour guides or park rangers.
"I don't know," I suggested, trying to play along. "Why don't you ask them?"
"I don't speak ram," he reasoned.
(Alice Campbell is a Havre Daily News staff writer. She can be reached at [email protected])