Livin’ in the Boonies … Crackin’ Ice

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Perks of Rural Life

Holiday preparations … started. We headed for the hills on our annual Christmas tree hunt. What is so cool about that? First, the permit cost only $10 and, well, we had ours already staked out.  You see, it’s like this, while we were elk hunting  we kept saying “that’d be a great Christmas tree”, “Oh! Look at that one” so Sweetie said let’s do this …  out came the Garmin Montana and he way-pointed the trees.

On a sunshiny blue sky Saturday last Sweetie tossed the saw into truck shell, Mala into the backseat, and I filled the old Thermos with hot chocolate before we hopped into the truck cab and turned on the GPS … easy peasy.

One & 1/2 hours later, 2 trees cut & tagged and we were sitting on the tailgate drinking chocolate & tossing logs for Mala to chase into the still running not frozen stream below the road. There are some very nice perks for living in the boonies.

Which makes for days where it doesn’t take much to keep me entertained … this was my afternoon the other day. Ice crackin’ and listening to ice melting. Living near a town of less than 800 people situated in the middle of a beautiful view on a pile of burnt dirt and rocks in the high desert with snow covered mountain tops (snow covered now, sort of … not enough to ski yet) … what else to do but go ice crackin’ and watch drippin’ icicles.

It’s the season my friends … get out there and crack some ice!

 

 

Denial to Acceptance … Really

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Last week … Indian Summer

Each seasonal transition I have a mini meltdown … I become so invested in the current season that I never want it to end.  Tuesday last I moved from foot dragging, whining denial that fall is giving way to winter and Indian Summer won’t last into acceptance of winter’s charms. Icy winds and night frosted branches, snow dancing down and sun peeking from beneath clouds to glitter on said frost.

This week @Cascade, Idaho … yes, in November … like 3 days ago

It’s here … although on the calendar we may have more days of Indian Summer which I will revel in … winter is coming, snow is falling and plans for the winter months are starting to bustle to the front of my brain. They are the indoor, quieter activities, interspersed with days of mountain shusshing skiing (alpine & nordic), a trip or two south of the snow meridian, and maybe I’ll get the first chapter of the life story of my Great-Grandfather Hyrum Chase Nicol outlined if not completed.

What’s on your late fall and early winter want to do list? I hope it includes giving Thanks with family and friends, and giving secret service where it’s least expected. I hope your list contains stuff that will make you break out in bubbles and giggles of laughter, and trying recipes that will waft great smells from your kitchen, and will your list contain projects to actually be completed before (like me) your mind wanders away?

So my friends, I’ll keep wandering, even if it’s only in my mind and soul and finding that perfect run, on the perfect snowy powder day … you’ll join me, won’t you?

 

Indian Summer … “I gather sun rays”

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Taking a break …

My prayers have been answered! Indian Summer keep on coming!! On Wednesday in the warm sunny it was a little fishing while Sweetie went bird hunting and Monday if the weather dudes have it right we’ll be wadin’ a river, tossin’ a line savoring time.

Today Mala and I took a short hike over the hills and dales on a chunk of state property behind the pastures out back. No hurry, no rush just wandering inhaling the perfume of broken sage, sun warmed soil, and listening to the pop and rustle of die-hard grasshoppers.

Leaves are almost gone from branches, seed heads are dipping toward the ground in the slight breezes and deer tracks wander wraith like through the grasses. It’s a good place for a walk. I am grateful for this moment to build memory for the dark and snow filled days ahead, like Frederick by Leo Lionni “Frederick, why don’t you work? they asked. I do work”, said Frederick. “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days”. When the darkness of winter closes the doors with drifted snow, and colors are hidden by white piles and grey clouds I will remember this day; the dusty motes of sage floating in the golden rays of sun, the brilliant reds and oranges of leaves letting go of branches to drop into piles below, the green tops of carrots lonely in the garden box, red globes of tomatoes in shining jars, and I’ll remember turquoise blue water bumping a sandy shore while my fly line drifts gently with the river’s tug.

Take a moment and find Frederick, read it today then read it again in the darkest of winter days and your heart will spill out all the brightness of this Indian Summer day.  Until later my friends, I’m reveling in another day of Indian Summer … such days are truly a blessing.

 

 

 

Summer Over? No! I’m Not Ready … I’m in Denial

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North Fork Clearwater River … in the smoke at sunset … River on Fire

I hope you’ve been out doin stuff … We’ve been doin’ losts of fishing stuff these last months of summer and I’ve not been writin’ about doin’, oh I thought about it, but  why write if I could fish, or hike, or … but it really is fall now, isn’t it? Well, I’m not ready for summer to be over …  I’m in Denial! I’ve started praying for a long, lovely Indian Summer.

Sweetie and I have packed as much into the last months of summer and first weeks of fall as I have filled bottles and freezer bags with the abundance from our garden. Whereas the jewel filled jars of peaches and Sweetie’s tomatoes sauce, and grapes are bottled shining reminders of those summer days, I took few photographs to jog my memory of these past weeks and months, but lots and lots of memories. (uhh, like watching Wade submerge in the Owhyee, hat only floating atop the water … or me submerged LOL).

I can tell you that here out west we were still dealing with the awesome winter of 2016-17  until mid-August or so … the rivers were scoured out; river beds and banks torn asunder and high water debris in many places 10-20-30 feet above the water line. Powerful and mighty torrents of snow melt crashed through these canyons. There was little to not very good fly fishing until mid-summer, but then woah! Nelly.  We hit the road, and went into fishing mode full time. Did we catch fish? Lots of fish (catch & release folks), except for one rainbow who became dinner.

Jill & Me on the North Fork with Maggie & Mala dogs

After early August fish camp  and the total solar eclipse we really got down to summer business.  Leaving Sweetie at home working, my fishing friend Jill and I headed to the North Fork of the Clearwater River in northern Idaho for a girls only trip … for those of you who couldn’t come this year, remember the invite is open for next!

The fishing was exciting and I lost as many flies and line on BIG fish as I caught … thinking about it makes my heart pump a bit faster. The air was smokey from the huge fires that burned through Montana and Oregon all summer and though we coughed and couldn’t see stars, the smoke filter made for some beautiful sunsets.

Fun Fishing Group … Me, Tommy, Greg, George, Paul, & Jim …

Then we had more than several days on the Owyhee and more days on the South Fork of the Boise … and I came home “fished out”.  I never thought that would happen, but I was like “Nope! I’m staying home … clean the garden, mow the pasture of a backyard, bottle those peaches gathering fruit flies and…and…and…”

However, after a few weeks off, tomorrow I’m going to find a riffle or two and spend a couple of hours listening to Fall. My Sweetie has moved into hunting mode: elk, upland game, and so on and so forth…so I’ll be on my own. Which is mucho okay, as solitude rejuvenates my soul since I’m an introvert in disguise. I know, you’d never guess would you?

Today’s weather is supposed to be rainy … it’ll be a great introvert day.  Enjoy your days my friend. 

 

 

Zone of Totality …

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So there was this thing about 10 days ago that created a sensation across the states (and the world) … the total solar eclipse. Now I’m not an astronomer (I tried, but I can’t stay up all night), and it’s taken me almost my whole lifetime to learn the names of and recognize the phases of the moon. But I LOVE eclipses; total or otherwise.  I haven’t traveled across the world to watch one (or I haven’t yet), but after being an eye witness in the Zone of Totality I just might.

We’re ready … total solar eclipse 2017

Check the light, the sun is about 1/2 covered and the night wind started blowing.

When the hype started 5-6 months ago I realized that our little ‘ranch’ although not in the exact center of the path was in the zone and I immediately thought PARTY!! And what a party it was … 17 peeps made a 7 hour trek to experience totality, plus our next door neighbors (next door meaning they get in their truck to get to our place).  The hype and Facebook and twitter and newspaper articles are awash with photographs … I heard folks were disappointed they didn’t turn into vampires, at least that was one rumor floating around… yeah, well … it’s what I heard.

This is soooo cool!

So, just 2 days before the eclipse I was talking to my little sister about how I wanted to experience things and stop seeing them through my camera lens … My point was I spend too much time ‘capturing’ the moment rather than ‘living’ the moment. So, what did I do? I wasted precious time trying to ‘get a shot’ of what my eyes were seeing (which didn’t work) and I wasted time that I could have seen the stars that came out, I could have, I could have … but I didn’t. But I will when I see the next total eclipse August 12, 2045 which goes dead-center over Utah, and after all I’ll only be 91 … guess that’s something to put on my I need to see and experience again list.

What else do you do at Grandpa’s ranch but ride the 4-wheeler

Just so you know that I did invite everyone I know and talked to in Boise and surrounding areas to come up and see the Total Eclipse … and what did I hear? “It’ll be 99.5% total here, why should I drive 2 hours north and get stuck in traffic”? What’s the difference? What’s the difference? It’s like running 26.195 miles of a marathon and stopping because 99.5% is good enough”. It’s like Neil Armstrong peeking out the window of the lunar module and saying, “this is close enough”.

In the Zone of Totality
Photograph Credit: Wyatt Taylor (yes, he’s my gson) Follow his Instagram @ High_Peaks_Adv and webpage

We were Here! We experienced the light dim to colors I’ve yet to have words to describe, to feel the temperature drop 15+ degrees and the night winds start blowing, to keep tipping solar viewing glasses up and down to see the light change, to look at the corona, to see the colors change again.  Then to watch that brilliant blast of solar light as the sun exploded into the beyond just as the moon slipped infinitesimally past  totality … it was a diamond ring.

But I missed stars! and I WANTED to see the stars. What a hard lesson that was … again.  My lesson? Be Here Now!

What an AWESOME display of the perfection of the universe and of God’s love to put the planets in such perfect alignment that on August 21, 2017 we were in the Zone of Totality … we saw & felt a Total Solar Eclipse!

The fam & friends had packed and were on the road before the end of the light show .. attempting to make it to the interstate before the throngs plugged the 2  lane running past our house.  It was a good plan, but an hour south they became part of the miles of traffic stoppage with other like-minded folks.

The total eclipse was worth it, and to add to our excitement Saturday night we had a 3 hour find Max the Schnauzer (dog with a heart condition) scavenger hunt. After many tears and recriminations he was found under a bush 100 yards from the house after a search of 90+ acres, and several miles of the rails to trails.

Idaho Eclipse Weekend Artifact; found in clothes dryer. Finder quoted saying, “I thought I said NO”.

Not to be outdone, Sunday was the evening of the RATTLESNAKE ! My theory is the old school gangsta rap they were listening to called the snake across 30 feet of burnt dirt and rocks, to hunker under the trailer & coil up next to the boombox between two girls.  Later the daughter discovered that No to a 10 year old son isn’t no to his grandpa.

Isn’t Life Grand?

Where will you be for the next Total Eclipse? https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/future/

 

Fish Karma & Fish Dreams

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Fish Camp 2017

… yes there were thunder storms & some rain

Summer starts June 21st and ends September 22, right? Why do I think summer is over when school begins? It must be a hold over from my childhood. There’s still 6 weeks of SUMMER before fall begins, then I pray for and relish Indian Summer, and hopefully 6 more weeks of warm evenings, sun bright days, flip-flops, and my fishing waders.

You may have noticed that Wanderingkeri has been relatively unreachable this month … yep!  Fish camp and the Solar Eclipse have put August in my record book.

Wandering Keri … fishing is serious business some days!

Primo Campsite …

Fish Camp 2017 started on the 6th and we found the rivers running higher than expected, fishing much slower than expected, but friends and adventure always much better than expected. We had the primo camp space, right on the river  … a lot fewer mosquitoes than anywhere else and off the beaten track with less drive-bys searching for that weekend space. We met some folks from Utah the first night as we were enjoying our evening campfire. They’d pulled in to camp for 14 days to procure places to view the solar eclipse. When we left we bequeathed them our camp spot because though they had a green grassy meadow it swarmed with blood-sucking, flying insects which were deterred not in the least by the thick smoke from forest fires throughout the area.

My Sweetie & Best Fishing Buddy Ever!!

Half our group headed on up to Challis Idaho for the Braun Brothers Reunion music festival, but Sweetie, Jill, and I stayed to fish a few more days, I’m not really an audiophile. Greg and I did take a day driving back into Mackay Idaho for more water and to do the empty the dump stuff. It’s a beautiful little town with a big mining history, ghost towns, and the burger place we stopped at had killer-good shakes and I’ll vouch for their fish and chips.

They say Kevin Costner ate here …

With an adios to Jill we headed north stopping at Wally’s Cafe in Salmon for a bite … our waitress was more than excited to share with us she had served Kevin Costner lunch and that he had autographed the wall in the booth. We didn’t check out the autograph, but I did order pork chinese noodles with egg … I probably wouldn’t choose it again, but Greg’s burger looked juicy good.

Onward to Hamilton, we passed fire camps everywhere as we traveled over what’s called the Lost Trail Pass. We were thinking we might fish the East Fork of the Bitterroot river, but instead did a drive-by visit in Hamilton to say hi to our friends Klein & Dawn Houston. Our mouths were gaping in amazement at their talents … Dawn makes breathtaking quilts and Klein makes and plays wooden Indian flutes. They were preparing to exhibit in the Ravalli County fair. I’ll also have to have them give me gardening pointers as their’s was bursting with fruits & veggies …

Mala (by the door) & new buddies

Off we went, waving another farewell and headed north to Florence  … JW was Greg’s Hotshot supervisor and together there were a lot of oh my! stories. JW & Donna have this wonderful place with views that go on and on above Florence on the bluff , we had a great time, and Mala made some new friends.  Donna also makes spectacular quilts! She and Dawn have rattled me, I’m feeling like I should get my own quilt project out and finish it. (well, maybe when the leaves have fallen and the snow flies!)

We pit-stopped at the junction of highway 12 and 93 where we ran into another fire friend James Stone who was working the fire information booth.  In the middle of our chat he mentioned they were getting ready to shutdown highway 12 … I’m not even certain we said goodbye or thank you before we bolted from the store, revved the engine and blasted through the intersection hoping we wouldn’t have to drive the long way home through Missoula.  Whew! Since we weren’t stopping on the road over the pass they let us through … on the way over we didn’t see any smoke or fire, only a single helicopter  drafting from a small pond. (“Thanks Jim”)

Driving over Lolo Pass we followed the sad path  the Nez Perce took over the Bitterroot Mountains on their journey to escape the US government and my heart ached as I remembered their trail of anguish.  Later we stopped along the Lochsa River staying in a an almost deserted campground, but each space was reserved for, guess what?, the total eclipse.

The evening fishing was on the Lochsa in the Clearwater National Forest.  Greg had the fish karma, I had only fish dreams.