|Trail to Dad|
Teak and I jumped from the truck and started down the draw. I immediately saw elk sign: fresh scat, tracks of cows and calves, myriad rubs and chews on aspen. I'd never seen elk here, but I'd never been here in December, when the road was usually closed for snow. The longer I walked, the more elk sign. This was obviously their wintering grounds. I was thrilled, as I continued my several mile loop in reverse. Given that adverse weather was due to arrive, I wanted to take advantage of sunshine and stillness. This meant that I came to the stunning aspen groves first, where I had spread my dad's ashes years earlier; I figured the old Iowa farmer might enjoy the trees he never saw in person.
I had just passed the stately ponderosa where I knew wild turkeys to roost, and was wondering out loud where, exactly, Dad was? The barren winter forest look so different from the lush green where I had left him. That's when I heard a flock of Red Crossbills. I stopped, listened and looked. At my feet were some of the largest elk tracks I had ever seen. On the trees were gargantuan bull elk rubs. I smiled. "Hi Dad," I said, "Hanging out with the old bulls these days, eh?" It couldn't have been more perfect. I mingled with the spirits for awhile, ever watchful for the black bears I knew frequented the draw.
My walk ended as the winds grew blustery. I sat by a favorite pond but didn't see the elusive muskrat. I picked up a few beer cans shot full of bullet holes and reluctantly climbed into the truck. I started to drive away but stopped. Three towering aspen, like points of a triangle, beckoned me. I walked over, positioned myself in the center of their silver, stark beauty and proceeded to do my salutation to the four directions, a tai chi-like series of movement and prayer.
Goddess willing, I would return.
|Aspen: Note the Elk Chew Line|
|3 More Rubs|