Spring

by Tricia M. Cook on May 17, 2011

1 May
Winter lasts so long up here, I sometimes forget there are other seasons. Down-valley spring beauties have already phased to glacier lilies, which are moving on to countless pots-of-gold arrowleaf balsamroot. Up here, the chilly loam is still holding its breath, mere clutches of courageous ’beauties are popping up in the slowly expanding tree wells. Ravens, beaks filled with the undercoat I have been brushing from my two big dogs, steal off to line their nests.
My wee abode sits at a lowly 2,300 feet of elevation, only about 500 feet higher than fourteen miles down-valley, where it is much more arid (and where it is already spring, as I have said). It is the proximity to the eastern toes of the North Cascades that dumps more winter here, in the land beyond Lost. And rain once it warms. But I am a rainforest girl at heart and diehard fan of winter, so this all sits well with me.

Up the Rendezvous Canyon, in the lingering snow bands behind Jason’s yurt, you can still see a few uphill Zs and downhill Ss from his late-season tours. From the Rendezvous toward Gunn Ranch, I take my first trail run of the season. Late April and enough of the way trail has melted out for a starter slog. I will turn around once the dirt and dead bunch grass ends and the snow begins in earnest. Each year around this time, I catch eyefuls of mountain bluebirds migrating through. They are an unlikely electric and blue my heart beat-beats when I spy them with eyes wide. Up and over the knoll and there they are! Tucked in the same bare and gnarled branches as they were the year before and the year before and the year before, and before that, too … nervously they scatter, and resettle not too far away.

A lifetime ago, my father gave me a Japanese print of an ethereal bluebird perched on a wintry branch. He also had this funny little thing he would say to me: “May the bluebird of happiness fly up your nose.” I think it was a play on an old Jimmy Dicks country song. My father was a West Point graduate and an officer in the Green Beret, who had a goofy sense of humor and a broken yet gentle soul. My dear old dad didn’t make it past 70 and after he passed, for me bluebirds came to signify him. When I spy them in the greening hills, all brilliant blue and other-worldly, I know my father is nearby, flying free and beautiful and it is magic.

On Being Pro-Life
Let me make this perfectly clear: I believe in a woman’s Right to Choose, so this is not about that. This is about biodiversity. This is about wolves. This is about being pissed the hell off.

A federal budget bill rider authored by Senators Tester, D-Montana, and Simpson, R-Idaho, has severely compromised the Endangered Species Act, endangering the health of ecosystems, and endangering wolf populations.
In a statement from the Center for Biological Diversity, “[The rider] removes wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the federal endangered species list and sets the stage for near-term delisting in Wyoming. The rider bans citizens from challenging the wolf delisting decision while preserving anti-wolf litigation brought by the state of Wyoming and others.”

There are solid reasons why a bunch of government dough and effort were spent to restore Northern Rockies wolves: Restoring healthy populations of wolves here has resulted in healthier ungulate herds by keeping their populations viable. Riparian areas, and thus fish spawning grounds, are becoming healthier too, as deciduous tree growth is returning, having been over-browsed. We are quite simply peril-yzing an entire ecosystem.

I don’t get this deep-seated fear and loathing of large predators. Why must we always sit at the tippy-top the food chain, dizzily attempting to control all things wild? Why must we artificially increase elk herd populations, by example, to the detriment of the herd’s and surrounding ecosystem’s health? It is merely for the so-called sport of an easier hunt (subsistence hunting aside), and the ability to run domestic herds unfenced and on public lands without incident?
I am pro-life! I am against the abortion of biodiversity!

Taking a Breath
I am still lighting fires in the woodstove. Although sometimes just one in the morning and maybe another around suppertime is enough.

Watching the Cat

I am watching the cat
the cat stretched out long
right up close to the woodstove
Satisfied just to be warm

Some Good Sites

Conservation NW
The Center for Biological Diversity
Renacuajo Productions
The Daily Coyote


Living Beyond Lost is up close to wilderness in the shadow of Last Chance peak and a stone’s throw from a river called Lost.
Mountain Gazette Senior Contributor Tricia Cook is a freelance writer and stringer for local and regional rags, an essayist, infrequent poet, frequent backcountry skier hiker climber tree-hugger and recluse-in-training.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave May 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Many of us support biodiversity – but the wolf thing has gotten over the top. They are fully recovered and well beyond the goals for a sustainable population. On the other hand – we’ve gotten to where we see them in regularly in remote small town, We are loosing a large number of big game animals – esp. elk, and a few people pets (a friends dog).

All I ask is some balance – we seem to have more than enough. If you’d like, Idaho would be happy to share a few extras with your area.

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Mary Sojourner May 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Sister, you are a wolf – in that you are a writer connected with what matters and you can spell (regarding the comment preceding this one – would that we were, in fact, “loosing” a large number of game animals. What matters and being able to spell become increasingly rare in these disconnected and ignorant times – kinda like wolves.
I’ll keep reading you. ms

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Tricia M. Okk May 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Mary, I am so honored by your comment. I admire you in so many ways.
Regarding your mention of the comment preceding yours- Wild wolves are on the lose, let’s not loose them!
Peace,
Tricia

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