After a particularly windy night in Montana, I step out of my travel trailer and admire the morning sky. The air is chilly, but fresh and clean. I fill my lungs and marvel at the invigorating purity of the air. As the sun’s rays break over the horizon with the promise of a new day, they cast a pink glow on the clouds and blend them into a marvel of lavender.
I walk at the edges of the harvested fields, not wanting to disturb the land. It seems though, that the deer and coyotes didn’t mind leaving their tracks behind. Whitetailed deer and mule deer both inhabit this part of the state. I’m not an expert tracker so I couldn’t tell what kind of deer it might have been. I only know that at one time, a small deer and a large one walked there. A coyote also passed that way. I wonder if it was close to the same time and what the coyote was after. The bigger deer must have been running, because his tracks were deeper and gouged up more of the soil. If only we could know the story.
Crossing the fields, I come across many interesting sights. Sage grows wild here. I pick up a stem of it and breathe in the medicinal sagey scent. Flowers bloomed over great expanses earlier in the season. A few remain, but most have gone to seed. Some of these seed pods are nasty burrs that stick to the dogs’ coats. I know what I’ll be doing when I get back “home” to the trailer. Picking burrs! Poor dogs.
The cottonwood trees look rich in their autumn dress. Black and gold! What could be classier? The leaves shiver in the breeze, making a continuous and soothing “shh-shh-shh” sound.These majestic trees are like sentinels watching over the prairie.
As I walk towards a marshy area, an owl glides past me, having given up its hiding place in the shrubbery. It isn’t too far away from this collection of pheasant droppings. Perhaps it is aware that this is where the pheasant was spending the night and he was hoping to close in on him. Or maybe he was after something smaller, like the rabbit I saw bolting over the hill a few minutes earlier, or the sharptail grouse that cackled as if someone had told a joke as it flew to another gully.
I am surprised to find a turtle shell nearly a foot long, near the cattail (bullrush) marsh. But more surprising is the number of pheasants that fly up from the cover of the cattails when Emma (English cocker spaniel) goes tearing through there. I suppose the pheasants felt safe there, knowing they could hear danger approaching. Cattails rustle noisily when an animal passes between them. I would bet that in last night’s wind, many animals found cover in this marsh. It must have been a scary night for them out here, but what a beautiful scene to wake up to in the morning.