Moose Magic

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I attended a park picnic last Saturday evening where I met a Field Biologist who was studying moose populations in Montana as directed by the state. According to data, there has been a very mysterious crash in the female population of moose the last few years and he and a partner were investigating as to why.

Imagine my surprise to come across this young female (pictured) feeding near a small pond the very next day! We pulled over to watch as she scoured the vegetation beneath the water surface very industriously; raising her head every so often, a river pouring off her snout, to check on us. It was one of those magic moments only nature can provide. I can’t imagine losing this majestic species. What a thrill.

Red, White, and Screwed?

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I’ve observed this fellow around town (pictured) over the past few years waving American flags in bitter snow storms, driving rain, and hot, muggy afternoons as cars streamed by causing his flags to flap as he sat smiling.  It was just this past week I finally found myself by his small selling station and took the opportunity to chat.

He was sitting outside my bank fanning himself with his hat as I made a withdrawal and spontaneously decided to walk over and buy a flag. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure he’s a vet, and I think there might be a few additional challenges for him outside of working on the street. It was clear from the start he’s extremely patriotic and very proud to be paying all his daily living expenses in spite of being homeless. The hats he sells are negotiated at a lower rate from local thrift shops, and he orders the flags himself in three sizes to fit his mobile cart he rolls all over town. He’s happy to place a small paperback he’s written about his life into your hands for $12, which to date, has sold some 250 copies. He’s slyly negotiated spots near local cash registers and will give you his pitch right there if you’ll stay long enough to listen. He explained he’s been homeless for several years now, ever since rent increases shot up some 400-500% the last five years making a steady place almost impossible. He also avoids local shelters because meth heads have a knack for stealing while you sleep he explains, and also possess the unnerving habit of behaving erratically during waking hours.

So I asked myself, can we really write Allen off as some sort of loser just because he’s homeless and needs a hand every once in a while to make ends meet? What happened to that sense of human decency we were taught as kids as Congress prepares to cut Meals on Wheels and school lunch programs for tax cuts?

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Wheelchair Athletes Roll Big Time

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I spent my Saturday helping organize and run my first Wheelchair basketball tournament supporting a local non-profit. The tournament involved two high school teams (12 teams total) playing for the first time with several of their players having physical disabilities.  By the end of the day I left with a new respect and level of amazement for the incredible athleticism displayed by these young kids. They had total control over their chairs, as if they were an extension of their bodies as they shot and rebounded at high speeds across the gym floor. They were pulling off Pete Marovich behind the back passes and first rate blocks and steals that would have impressed Michael Jordan. This kind of event always reminds me to be careful about judging people different from ourselves and the level of ability they possess in overcoming adversity. There are whole worlds of experience out there most of us rarely see.

 

Native Dawn

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Wonderful to get up for a walk at 6:30 a.m. and catch a scene like the one above as your dog sniffs the ground at your feet. There is nothing like a good dose of fresh air and silence when you’ve been over rushing in life.

Dog of Devotion

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I’m a big dog lover, so I was very impressed by the discipline displayed by this fellow sitting on the lip of his owner’s 4 x 4 last Saturday. Even after parking next to him and walking by he stayed focused. He certainly earned his best friend status for the month.

Winter Harvest

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As I pass massive berms of snow pushed along the edges of streets and parking lots on my morning walk, a local travel agency Posts 81 degrees in Maui and 88 degrees in Cancun. While I have been to both places, and truly enjoyed the change in environment, I have to say that I feel winter gets a bad rap. Watching young kids place letters to Santa in a special mail box outside the toy store downtown, Alpenglow on the Rocky Mountains at sunset, and cross-country skiing at Izaac Walton Inn all make for a special season in the Northwest. Winter can be hard, it’s true, slipping on ice and extra caution behind the wheel are not things I enjoy, but it is also a time of hot cider, ugly knit Christmas sweaters and warm cozy fires. When I lived in Phoenix I missed all that, and painting snowmen on your store window will never be a substitute for the winter experience.

Chicken Feed

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The day before our neighbors left to visit relatives in Seattle this week they asked if we’d look after their chickens. A big snowstorm was moving in and they needed to ensure the little gals wouldn’t freeze while they were away. As someone who’s farm history reaches back over 150 years in this country until broken from mom to me, I was interested in getting a little insight on my roots. As the alarm blared around 6:00 a.m. (late for farm work) the following morning, I was like you’ve got to be kidding me as I slowly pulled on my pants. The process involves opening the coop as the assembled ladies peck at your ankles, changing the water in the heated tin, brushing poop off the roosting shelf for use in the garden compost, and distributing cracked corn over the floor of the open end of the living area. Metal pins had to be restored to each door before the final phase could be completed lifting the roof of the side nesting area to collect the four eggs there. Apparently, as long as the two dummy eggs remain in the two nests, the five chickens will continue to lay throughout the seasons. Nothing like coming home to a fresh egg quiche to get you going in the morning, but it’s going to take a lot more work if I hope to restore my farm genes to their full potential.

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