I'm sitting in LaPerla with the heater on and the screen door open. Such is autumn in Montana, were it frosts at night and gets up to 80 in the day time. It's easy to get caught in between, an apt metaphor for the moment as I contemplate a myriad of contradictions and mind-spinning observations, compliments of my friend, Wood Tick.
Autumn is my favorite time of year. I'm an October Libra and the drift of falling of leaves, the smell of nature's death and the movement of migration has long stirred my soul. I have all that, outside the door at Wood Tick's house on the river, looking into forest and mountains where it's dark and silent at night. I'm immersed in the wild once more. The past week I've witnessed moose crossing a lake, glossy black bears, an eagle's nest on the top of a snag and elk bugles echoing through the night. It's bow hunting season as well, when males in camo take to the woods. I must be wary of where I stop to squat.
It's a strange man-scene in this neck of the woods. Every one I've met so far is divorced and single by choice. With the energy of a mountain man frat, they've turned their libido into wood of the tree falling kind, building huge, strange creations that are off balance. One has built a humongous open air work shed that houses a saw mill and a room accessible by ladders three stories up. Inside that glass room is a pool table and I'm sure, a view to die for. I declined the invitation to travel up construction ladders and smoke a bong. The room was not made with females in mind since there was no bathroom and women can't hang it over the non-existent railing. Nope, not venturing down three stories of ladders in a sober OR altered state, and I haven't done a bong in decades. Another man took a simple, beautiful 1200 sq ft log cabin perched on a mountainside and proceeded to dwarf it with a dick, er deck with logs three times larger than myself. On top of that deck was going to be a, you guessed it, pool table room. On top of that was a loft. On top of that would be a fire lookout observation room. Another man lives on an isolated lake surrounded by old growth larch in a rabbit-warren house jam-packed with stuff. The wooden porch leading to the door was covered with rat scat. I dare say, he has become a pack rat. I could go on. I've met another half dozen. Wood cutters. Engineers. Craftsmen. Contractors. Welders. Suffice to say there's something off kilter here. I hear rumors of women in the background of some men's lives, but have yet to see proof. Wood tick tells me that the news of a woman in the area spreads like wildfire. Stay tuned.
We make daily trips into the mountains. Wood Tick is a bow hunter and has gone out a few times. He promised not to divulge the location of the bear I photographed from 20-feet yesterday to his hunter/trapper friends. What's shocked me most, however, is the subject of wolves. Thus far I've lived in areas where wolf re-introduction is an ecological and spiritual goal; efforts that stem from decades of blood lust extermination. In Montana I've come face-to-face with the effects of wolf predation in the form of plummeting elk, moose and deer populations. This year Fish and Game opened a limited wolf hunt and sold $19.00 tags. The word 'wolves' is on the tongues of everyone I meet and fills the editorial pages of newspapers, with many professing to love them, while overwhelmed with the speed at which their populations and predation have spread. This has caught me off guard and I'm set to delve into more research. Stay tuned.
Tomorrow is the Equinox. The first day of autumn returns with equal minutes of daylight and darkness. Wood Tick and I plan to head to a special spot with the dogs on the river to swim and laze in the unseasonably hot sun. Record highs are predicted by weathermen, while astrologers warn of intense cosmic chaos. I'm happy to be anchored at Wood Tick's house on the river with the resident beaver and swooping Kingfisher. His burned biscuits make me laugh; his wit and lay of the land are a gift. Stay tuned.