Summer is really over
I finally spent some time on the Yellowstone River this weekend — went boating both days, actually. Unfortunately, summer is most definitely over — We got rained on both days. Saturday was just sort of gloomy weather, with little sprinkles, and Sunday was gorgeous until the thunderstorm blew up. Oh well — next year I’ll have to try a little harder to get on the river in that short season between the time the floodwaters recede and the weather turns cold.
Saturday my friend Wendy-the-Buddhist, who has just returned from a year’s exile in California (they needed to make some money) and I took out her canoe. It was great fun and I got to dust off some very rusty whitewater skills– which was interesting. I spent a lot of time in my teens and twenties in canoes, and even spent one season guiding rafts in North Carolina — but compared to that group of whitewater experts, I was definitely in the baby pool. So I tend to think of myself as someone who isn’t particularly skilled — but the skills I do have came back to me, and I was thrilled to remember how much I really love canoeing. Old muscle memories returned, and I managed to keep us out of the snags, upright through a couple of swirly spots with little haystacks, and without scaring either of us to death. It was a wonderful chance to catch up with an old friend, and we saw Sandhill cranes, osprey, kingfishers, red-tailed hawks, a couple of bald eagles, and a bunch of mergansers. All morning Wendy just kept looking a the glorious Absarokas rising above the Paradise Valley and saying “I’m SO glad to be back. I’m so glad to be back.”
Sunday Nina and I rented a two-person “ducky,” a small inflatable canoe-shaped raft, packed a few beverages and snacks, and did a much quieter section of the river. It was her mom’s-day-off present from her husband, who spent a month at Yaddo this summer and left Nina with their two adorable, but high-energy kids. Unlike Saturday, Sunday was a true float — I think we only paddled a couple of times, mostly just drifted down the river, talking in that way one does with a new friend — testing one another’s judgements about people and situations, sharing things about your life, and just chatting. So we spent a lovely afternoon talking and watching the birds and the mountains float by. And then the thunderstorm came up. The river is peppered with public fishing access sites, some of which are also campgrounds. We’d planned to go all the way to Mallard’s Rest, which is where we’d left Nina’s car, but when the storm blew up we had only made it as far as Loch Levin. So we pulled over, pulled up the raft, and wound up taking shelter in the outhouse where we called Nina’s husband to come rescue us. Which was a funny end to a good day.
This morning is grey and dark, and I’m relieved to discover that my pink office *is* going to be as warm and inviting all winter as I’d hoped it would be. It would be nice to get some rain today for the garden (it rained down valley yesterday, but not here in town), and although I’m a little sad that the garden is coming to an end for this year, I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to get back to my novel, which has been sadly neglected these past few weeks. It’s hard to have a full-time job, a garden, new friends *and* get any writing done — but since for the first time in years I actually have a social life, and a solid group of friends — a community if you will — I’m trying not to beat myself up over the book. But it *is* time to get back to work.
And there’s a lovely tribute this morning in the Telluride paper to Brother Al. A good man who did God’s work in the truest sense. May he watch over us all.