Yellowstone is gradually settling into fall. As the light changes and the temperature falls, mountain slopes and valleys slowly turn golden even as snow dusts the peaks of the Absaroka range. The Junction Butte Pack has moved into Lamar Valley.
Wallawa Lake is quiet at 6:30 a.m. Only a few fishermen are at the marina, readying their boats, and campers walking their dogs, or, just walking. Like me. I like to sit at a picnic table that juts out toward the water where I can look for the adult eagles and a female common merganser I’ve been watching.
There is still light over the mountains and a dusting of snow shines in the fading light. It is almost 10 p.m. I took a brief walk after dinner, gazing up at the tall lodge pines and the crescent moon. Soda Butte Creek rushes past our little cabin. When we arrived yesterday, it began to snow; fat, wet flakes that quickly melted on the deck and under the pines.
Summer drifted in this week on a wave of heat and humidity. For the most part, June has been up and down in temperature, tempered by frequent rain showers. Some wildflowers are going to seed. At the end of May, the Sierra Nevada trail that was flooded with coneflowers, Indian Blankets and lemon beebalm.
Liam has a new buddy. Aubrey’s foal arrived Monday, April 22, sometime between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. I was riding Willis in the fields behind the barns and paddocks when I saw a long-legged tiny horse standing next to a huge bay mare in the paddock next to last year’s colt and filly. On the other side of the shelter stood another mare with a foal, so there were now two foals.
A ringtail visits the backyard almost every night, traveling back and forth along the fence from our neighbors’ yard to ours. We keep a small feeder tray filled with orange peels and dried fruit to entice him and birds, but the menu also appeals to a local possum. One night the trail cam caught both possum and ringtail at a standoff as they chased each other down the fence and out of the yard.