Today is Mother’s Day. I’m not one. I’m apparently surrounded by them, though. There are signs of new life everywhere, from baby turtles around the pond to tiny killdeer in the pasture, to eggs in the nest under the horse trailer.
I found the little egg on Easter Sunday, picking it up as gingerly as I did the dyed eggs in the backyard on my 5th Easter. I’d had to be careful that day, since my other arm was broken from an unsuccessful attempt at riding my bike with my eyes closed. With training wheels.
The little egg must have…
This day should be every day.
I knew a guy whose first words, every morning before his feet hit the bedside floor, were Thank you Thank you Thank you.
I should’ve asked him what he was grateful for, back when he was sitting next to me in his underwear.
We were watching a Miami Heat game in his hotel room. I don’t remember the city, but his daughter, Skye, was there, too. We all were in town speaking at a weekend conference, and he was the event headliner. …
The headwaters of the Salmon River empty into this fertile basin, bordered on one side by the Sawtooth range and the other by the White Clouds. The Salmon begins life as a trickle, cutting through sprawling ranches and abandoned mining claims, but within a handful of miles she becomes a raging river, fed by small tributaries.
I was driving over one of those small tributaries last 4th of July, when a bald eagle dropped into the airspace above my truck’s hood. My gaze shifted from the eagle to the road, where I saw the wooden sign naming the tributary.
I saw them again this morning. Just the mama moose this time, with her twins.
The young ones searched the parched earth for any last stubbles of life, under the watchful eye of their mother, in their quest to gain as much weight as possible before likely being left to fend for themselves this winter. Emma and I were on a mountain run a ways from the barn, and I kept her close so she wouldn’t inspire the cow to charge. …
I was alone.
Alone, in a group of 13 strangers, running a river through the largest swath of roadless land in the lower 48, with no cell service.
And no news feed.
On the bus to the tiny airstrip, everyone was wearing masks and social distancing.
Bush planes dropped us at a remote post, and the masks disappeared.
The river carried us to a small beach for lunch, and the social distancing relaxed.
We stopped at a grassy bank for the evening, and the stories began.
Two sets of brothers. One pair younger Navy veterans, the other pair reconnecting somewhere…
The sun was barely cresting the ridge this morning when we saw them. Emma growled low and I told her to hush, because I wanted to hold the moment for a little while.
A huge bull moose was standing proud a hundred feet away, next to a smaller mama just pushing up from the grass.
I’d never seen moose twins before. They were playing with each other like Labradors, rolling through the dried-up spring where they’d bedded down last night. Tiny squeaks and grunts accompanied each flop, until the mama nosed them along. Time to go.
They’re having a bbq next door.
It’s barely noon on a blustery Sunday, presumably after the service led by the pastor neighbor in the white tents next to the house. The family spent the waning light before sunset cutting the grass, brushing their horses, and cleaning the grill. I can see everything from this second story barn apartment. Elk, deer, hawks, antelope, church.
Cars started pulling onto the manicured lawn early this morning, and now drivers and passengers are standing in circles separated by gender and age, trying to avoid the charcoal plumes spiking through the stiff June wind. …
The evening before I left for the mountains, I headed down to the makeshift house to say goodbye.
More for me than them, of course. But I’d been watching their eyes gain light and feathers develop from tiny fibrous stubs ever since their eggs appeared, one by one, under the since-departed horse trailer.
I wanted to take one last look, because I’d already be under an alpine sky by the time they flew the nest.
Hopefully. I’d just seen a hawk escaping overhead with a tiny bird in its clutches, culled from one of the eucalyptus trees bordering the ranch…
I asked him if the ocean was glowing like this the last time we surfed together at night, and he said, “Thankfully, no.”
Probably because I was naked then, and he was grateful for as little illumination as possible.
I’d been at his house for a 4th of July BBQ around the turn of the century. The homemade fireworks had long since expired on the tile deck when he emerged in board shorts and headed down the stairs to the beach, under a full moon dancing over the glass ocean. …