“Hey Martha, when you dip my rawhide pencil in your coffee, I really like it. I want you to keep doing that, OK?”
“OK Bear. It’s better than finding a dozen of these things under the couch because you took them — begged for them! — and didn’t chew them! Rawhide pencils don’t grow on trees.”
“Never mind, sweet girl.”
“OH! You mean when I bury them!”
In the midst of all the weirdness here on Planet Weirdness, I have been rehabbing the shoulder and riding the bike-to-nowhere. The result? The shoulder is almost itself again, and I might be able to Langlauf assuming that the Old Farmer’s Almanac is wrong and our winter is NOT cold and dry but cold and snowy. The only problem right now is that I cannot get up from a fall as my shoulder isn’t 100% yet.
The other mechanical obstacle is that my skis need new bindings, and I’ll do that as soon as I am able to get up off the floor without the help of a chair or something.
I recently read Yellowstone’s Ski Pioneers: Peril and Heroism on the Winter Trail by Paul Schullery, a naturalist who worked in Yellowstone Park from 1972 to 2008. It’s a book about early skiing in Yellowstone Park, an activity no one did for fun, but was done to stop poaching. It’s not a great work of literature by any means, and the author loses the thread of his original “thesis,” but it’s a fascinating book. Back in the early days — the turn of the 20th century — and for quite a while into the 20th century — Yellowstone had been relatively undiscovered as a winter destination, but times have changed. At the end of the book he makes a quiet plea for people to leave The Park alone in winter.
“The ‘C-words,’ carrying capacity, caps, and ceilings, words that neither managers nor local commerce like to think about, are being heard more often all the time. Conservation groups are alarmed at the wildly accelerating (that is not too strong a term for what is happening) winter use of the park, travel in formerly isolated parts of the park has on park wild life, and managers are alarmed at the growing winter duties their budgets were not designed for.”
I’m completely happy to leave wild places to wild animals. Time was I believed I belonged with the wild animals in the wild places, but my beliefs have evolved. It was a long process that finally jelled when some local mule deer decided I was their friend. As I watched a doe approach me from a herd I’d been watching for some time, I saw that I couldn’t do her any good. I could only hurt her. Her natural curiosity, and the continuity of my (and Bear’s!) attention over weeks, had inspired her to act in a way that wasn’t in her self-interest. I called out to her, “I love you but I’m not your friend!” and waved my arms in the air, atypical behavior for me (in her perception, anyway). She stopped, pulled back her head and turned, bounding away. I never saw them again.
Nature isn’t a safari park.
I had the “dream” of spending the time near/around my 70th birthday skiing in Yellowstone Park. That’s something I’ve dreamed of since I started x-country skiing. After reading this book, I abandoned that dream. I don’t think The Park needs another person on its fragile winter trails, another person on a “snow-coach,” or another person on a snow mobile. It occurred to me that snow is snow, mountains are mountains, and Bear and Teddy can’t ski.