Catching Up - May 26 - November 23, 2016

I arrived at Shalom May 26, after having retired from my full time job. Since I had been working since 1969, this adventure is a long anticipated - perhaps overdue - transition to what I hope will be a lifelong period of calm reflection in a beautiful and beloved place. I always intended to create this website, but that has been delayed 'til now. The summer was filled with projects, visitors, reading, hiking and adjusting to my newfound freedoms. My plan is to update this blog section on a more regular basis from this point forward. I don't know how long I will remain, but hopefully have enough firewood to make it to Spring! Time will tell.

Here are a few highlights from the intervening time taken from my notes. I'll pick up more regularly tomorrow (maybe).

May 27, 2016 - My first full day of retirement has arrived and I am both excited and apprehensive for what the future may bring. Approximately 2" of snow fell overnight, with showers all day. It was a good to average year for snow, but it came late in the season. Four large lodgepole pines have died on the north side of the one acre lot over the Winter, not an unusual occurrence, and will provide a good amount of firewood.

May 28-30, 2016 - Chris, Kay, Keira, Addison, and Isabella Jean (soon to be) visited along with Max and Timber, the family dogs. We took 9-year old Keira fishing in the big pond, and then went with Chris up Willow Creek for some flyfishing. Chris did well; Papa (me) not so much.. I found out that Chris and Kay are highly competitive at horseshoes and wilderness Bocchi played amidst the trees, rocks, logs, and other obstacles. The weather has been cool with showers.

June 1 – June 12 – I am beginning to realize that I now live here at Shalom. Many projects are on the horizon, but first I want to enjoy my new/old surroundings. Lot’s of wildlife news: 12 elk at dusk across the valley near Roy’s place, a momma moose and calf out in front of the cabin in the rain, and a pine marten on the bird feeding station. There seems to be an absence of the normally ubiquitous squirrels and chipmunks. Hmm?

June 18 – Patty hosted Rick’s Celebration of Life at their cabin next door. Rick passed away, too young, last Fall after a prolonged illness. Five different men stood and claimed Rick as their best friend. He filled his life with fun, love for his family and this place. His elk hunting exploits are legendary. He is already missed.

June 14 – A single chipmunk appeared on the deck. The marten came by later, which doesn’t bode well …

June 23-25 - Ted and Julie visit from Colorado Springs for a long weekend filled with walks, flyfishing, and sight-seeing.

June 26 – A cow moose trotted by this morning headed upstream. Five minutes later she headed downstream with that awkward, terrain eating gait typical for moose. No calf in sight. Has she lost it, or is this a different animal? Hot today, with temperature at 80°. Thankful for the brief thunder shower.

July 5 – The first Rufous Hummingbird showed up today to challenge the greenbacks. He is a day late, according to Jean’s wise observances, who always claimed they arrived on the 4th!

July 16 – The internet arrives at Shalom via satellite. This will be a welcome diversion and important communication tool for me in the coming Winter. We have a landline telephone; while cell service is blocked by the mountains, it can be picked up a few miles down the road toward the only cell tower in Taylor Park. Television has thankfully always been banned here.

July 23 – Tom and Monica arrived for a long weekend. Bruno the Bear left pre-dawn muddy footprints in the dew on the steps, along with a trail of destroyed birdfeeders. Must reconsider how to feed the various finches, jays, grosbeaks, white crowned sparrows, tiny pine siskins, slate backed junkos, and hummingbirds that are addicted to their free lunch.

August 5 – 11 – A large bull moose in velvet magically appeared in front of the cabin at dusk. I also saw another cow with twin calves at an elk wallow near the top of Seeton Meadow, which caused me to advance slowly in a backwards direction to escape momma’s intent gaze. What a wonder to see these enormous animals! I am thankful for their return to these parts, after a century’s absence. It is our gain to be more aware traipsing through the woods and willows. Bruno made a return to the deck, made obvious by the claw marks up the tree to inspect the newly raised bird feeders. Hmm… more height required.

August 18 – New grandchild! Isabella Jean is born to my daughter Kay and her husband Chris, while Keira and Addison spend a couple of nights at Shalom with my sister, Joyce, and me. It’s a good family to be born to. I hope the generations will learn to love and care for this place.

Late August – The first snow appeared on Ice Mountain, followed by torrential rain and hail at Shalom. Winter is on the way. Are six cords of firewood enough? About 100 ducks of mixed species appeared on Lake Louise for a day on their way south. They may know. A Great Blue Heron was sunning on the footbridge, apparently unconcerned about the season. I surprised a mule deer doe with her triplets who scattered in about six directions down Willow Creek. This must be a successful mom!

September – This somewhat leaky log cabin got some much needed chinking, caulking, insulating, and other sealing to help keep out the sure to come deep winter. The cabin warms up much faster now with the wood heat and seems to hold it longer. Again, is it enough to sustain me through the darkness? I banked another cord of firewood. Keeping warm is a big project. However, the month has been unseasonably warm and dry.

October – I hiked to magnificent Cow Lake while scouting for elk, which is a pretty steep climb. The way was partly untrailed and marked by intense snow squalls. Gary, Andy, Warren, and Chris joined me for our first elk camp together. Ten days of hard hunting provided one harvested elk. Not many were taken in the vicinity this year, so we were fortunate. Old timers think the prolific rains came too late in August to produce good feed and the elk ventured elsewhere in search of food. Weather still predominantly too warm and dry.

November - The weather has been generally warm, but punctuated with several small snows and zero degree nights. The snow has allowed me to notice that we have a mountain lion and at least two bobcats on patrol. They are probably always there, but the snow gives them away. I saw bobcat tracks approach the lion tracks, stop, reconsider, then exit from whence he came. Bruno is taking a nap. I will need to transition from truck to snowmobile very soon.