Putting off Winter

I’m trying to think of ways to put off Christmas/winter for just a little longer. Maybe I’ll get inspired next week and get some decorations up. But for one more blog posting, I want to reminisce about the last bit of summerish sunshine I found in Montana in October. No wonder I’m yearning for it. Since  we got home, it seems all we’ve had is one bad weather system after another. First it’s wind and rain and then it’s rain and wind.

So I hope you won’t mind taking one more trip back to Montana with me to remember those sunny days. Walking through a field that the farmer had left natural–not fallow, but natural–I came across unexpected treasures. This juniper bush, for example; I wish I could share the aroma with you through the photo.

Juniper bush with berries

Juniper bush with berries

The field seemed to be nothing but a bunch of old grasses at first, but it was full of life. Even the plant life was interesting because of so many varieties. It was very, very quiet here, except for the swishing of the grasses in the slight breeze.

High grasses of many types

High grasses of many types

Imagine you are high-stepping it through these grasses when you happen to look up and, from the clump of bushes ahead, an owl silently lifts off and glides away to another clump of dense brush a safer distance from the intruders. I tried to take his picture but he was too quick and his silent flight gave him several seconds’ head start. The photo I got only shows that a bird was actually there, but you can’t tell that it was Detective Owl of Who Dunnnit fame. https://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/who-dunnit/

Detective Owl might have had a little drink. He's quite blurry.

Detective Owl might have had a little drink. He’s quite blurry.

Owls are not the only birds around here. Upland game birds, such as pheasants, partridge and grouse can be found here too. If I had a pheasant  for the pot, I’d have no trouble finding the herbs to spice it up with. This sage is aromatic and ready to use.

Perfect for the stuffing.

Perfect for the stuffing.

But in case I started thinking too much about dinner, I continued my high-stepping hike through the field and had to concentrate on keeping out of the mucky spot where a bit of water had collected, maybe to keep the cattails happy.

They like it a little bit wetter so you'll find them in the lower dips of the field.

They like it a little bit wetter so you’ll find them in the lower dips of the field.

Not wanting to get my feet wet, I climbed higher up the hillside. Near the crest of the hill I was surprised to see a plant I had only expected to see in semi-desert terrain.

Prickly pear cactus. I was so glad to be wearing my heavy boots.

Prickly pear cactus. I was so glad to be wearing my heavy boots.

It was at this point that I remembered a farmer saying that it may be October but the rattlers haven’t denned up yet. Where there’s dry ground and prickly pear cactus, there could possibly be rattlesnakes. I walked back to the truck along the edge of the planted field that bordered the natural one. This way I could see the earth between the wheat stubble and I kept my eyes busy sweeping the ground about ten feet ahead of me. I wasn’t really worried about snakes, and I felt pretty safe with my high leather boots, but still, I believe it’s better to avoid trouble than to have to confront it.

It was a beautiful warm day and I felt part of the natural world – maybe a little bit high on all the fresh air. I loved it here. Someday I’ll come back again to the farms near the Missouri River.

A very long river

A very long river

48 thoughts on “Putting off Winter

    • You’re right. I don’t think they would be in the thick stuff – more in the rocky areas – but there was a bit of everything in this coulee, and as you got higher up the hillside, the dryer the ground and sparser the growth. I was especially nervous of the few little piles of rock. But one farmer said he was walking into his field and where the higher grass was lying down, he saw a rattler partway under a swath of it. He backed up and went another way to get into his grain field. Smart man.

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      • Do rattlers not give you a warning of their presence by rattling the tail… wouldn’t help me much being almost deaf but again that is how I thought they got their name… not that I’m too keen to meet one as I believe they are as aggressive as our Puff adder that has the ability to kill you if he can….

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        • I think that by the time they rattle, it’s a bit late. I wouldn’t want to deal with a rattler’s bite, but people do survive them. It’s more of a worry for our dog. But I think you have some of the most poisonous snakes, more than us North Americans do. Also in Australia, I think they have some pretty deadly ones. Rattlers aren’t so bad. You just don’t want to get bitten. I think it would be very unpleasant.

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          • If my memory is good they fall in the hemotoxic venomous group, the one that stops blood clotting, would definitely not be pleasant, and I believe they can control the amount of venom they pump into you… probably more for the dog than for you… but it would be extremely painful… in Africa we do have some baddies.. the only one I avoid however is the black mamba, aggressive, will chase you and if he gets you will probably strike and bite you 3 to 4 times in the first instance and at the same time pump 1000% more poison into you than what he needs to, not many people survive his bite… had a few encounters with him but so far I’ve managed to outrun him…

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    • Thanks, Francine. Here on the coast you have to work at getting out of the hustle and bustle of town life. In Montana there is so much open country you are immediately in the natural world, listening to the soft sound of the wind and songbirds instead of car engines and people’s voices.

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    • I have to find more of that Christmas spirit right away. I think I’ll get into it as soon as I open that box of ornaments and start cluttering the house up with Christmas decorations. Thanks for visiting, Kristin. I find your blogs an inspiration.

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  1. I was just thinking what a lovely walk that would be, then you mention the ‘S’ word – snakes! No way would I have been able to walk back in a civilised manner. Think Usane Bolt!

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    • LOL. Aw, Sue, you just wear tough leather boots that reach halfway up your calf. It’s not like the place is a slithering mass of snakes. (Course it only takes one….) Sorry I spoiled it for you. 😉

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  2. Beautiful photos Anneli. I can just feel that peacefulness and stillness, walking through those meadows. “The Hissing of Summer Lawns” comes to mind, even though they are not actually lawns. Love the sound of the long, crispy, wild grasses swaying in the wind.

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    • I love that sound so much that I put it in my next book – Julia’s Violinist – where Julia is going for a walk through the prairie grass so she can think her problems through. It’s very calming. Kind of like the ocean waves lapping the shore, the grasses whisper in the wind.

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  3. You are an artist in taking pictures (and not only in taking pictures!) Thanks for sharing this last trip – it helps a bit through the snow and very cold weather. Doesn´t help me a bit to get into the Christmas spirit at all!!! Maybe I will skip this feast this year,..

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  4. Sorry I haven’t got you into the Christmas spirit, but I understand that with all the commercializing of Christmas sometimes it’s hard to get into the mood. I’m still working on it too. Put up a few decorations, pour yourself some rum and eggnog, and listen to some nice Christmas carols. That might help.

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  5. Thanks, Dawn. I can hardly wait to go back again. I mean I love where we live, but in Montana you can get an extra month of summer. The dreary winters are long enough here, so if I can enjoy a bit more sunshine, and all that practically untouched nature, it’s worth it for me to make the trek again.

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  6. Me too. We were worried about our dog because we’d heard that a friend’s dog had been bitten last year. He was okay after a fast trip to the vet and a long recovery time but it isn’t something we would like to go through.

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    • Thanks, David. I saw that on your blog. If I can steal some time I’ll do some of the “paying it forward.” I appreciate that you mentioned my blog. Happy holidays to you too. I look forward to reading your blogs in the new year.

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  7. I’m like you, Anneli, wishing to postpone winter and Christmas and not necessarily in that order. I’ve got an urn with Christmas greenery out front and that’s it. And it’s only out there because I got it free from spending sooo much money at the grocery store.

    Your photos are fabulous. My cousin went to Montana years ago as an exchange student and commented on its beauty. Your photos tell the rest.

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  8. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Melanie. I don’t want to come across as Scrooge, but sometimes the Christmas season just starts a bit too early. By the time it’s over I’m breathing a sigh of relief and it shouldn’t be that way. Also, I do like to be warm, and since I’m not going south for the winter, I thought it appropriate to take one more trip to Montana (in my mind – on my blog). So glad you enjoyed the pictures.

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  9. Thanks for a look back into the end of summer. Lovely pictures in spite of the possibility of a rattler lurking near.
    Happy winter!

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    • I wasn’t going to worry about it, except for that farmer coming upon one and telling us about it, and then a fellow tourist seeing a big one at the edge of the road long after I thought the snakes should have denned up, because it was frosty at night. I always had my “eyeballs peeled.”

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  10. There’s a fair bit of it in the drier parts. The spines are very sharp too. I found that out two years ago when it was really hot and I took my boots off. The first barefoot step was into a piece of prickly pear that was hiding in the grass. I put my boots back on pretty quick.

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  11. You made a great tour to me. Wonderful photos.

    Thank You liking my newest post. I have no explanation to it why nobody could leave comment. It is a mystery to me.

    I am still working by my Mobile broadband modem for my connection. I have been promised to get operational connection to our new home in December on Friday the 14th, 2012.Let’s hope that they keep their promise. Happily I made many posts ready for publication, because I expected something like this problem. My Internet connection is giving me more gray hair, gray although they are white grey already.

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    • I did enjoy looking at the sunny photos one more time. Now I have to try to get into the Christmas spirit. Decorations are up and it’s time to get in the mood. Thanks for visiting my blog, Bente. I look forward to seeing what Christmassy, wintery photos you’ll post soon.

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    • Thanks so much, Francine. I had a look at your other nominees and have visited their blogs. Thanks for that opportunity. I’ve been enjoying your Christmas photos. I think you’ve been the most enthusiastic proponent of the Christmas season. I love those pictures – so festive!

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  12. Just wanted to let you know I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. I hope this will be welcome news for you. If you prefer not to accept the award, I certainly understand, but I hope you will visit the other nominees, and they will visit you, just the same. To see more about the award and this nomination, please visit my post at http://wp.me/p2ekZU-18E – All the best!

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