I took myself on a little getaway yesterday. I packed my favorite backpack with a thermos of tea, my camera, a bottle of water, a few snacks, my favorite blue down jacket and my new green hat. I laced my retro blue hiking shoes, slathered some sunscreen on, loaded up the wolves in the truck and knew I would not be home until nightfall. It was so nice to have the company of my brother as PB is nearing on being gone for three weeks now.
We drove the short few miles and arrived at one of the largest wintering grounds for deer and elk in Idaho. I was giddy with excitement, as I usually am when I get to be outside all day, but even more so on this day. I LOVE finding natures’ treasures. Each one so unique and distinctive of the environment it has lived in.
Time did not exist on this day. I lost myself in this sea of earth and sage. I let my mind wander and daydream. I imagined myself covering miles upon miles on four legs. I imagined myself digging a bed of earth to rest my body in the eve, but always having to keep a watchful eye. I imagined birthing in the wild. I am jealous of the freedom and space these creatures are born into. I will never quite know this. I will always strive for this.
I catch a glimpse of my brother on the next spur ridge to the west. We have split up, each with one dog to cover more ground. I let out something that sounds like a combination of a hawk screech and a rodeo bull-rider yip…I have found my first shed of the day. I am just elated! I have been drawing designs in my head of the things I will make for you out of antlers, and now I have one. This one is brand new. The end where the antler separates from the head is still jagged and un-weathered. It is beautifully striated with tan and browns…colors of the desert. It is nubbed and knobby on the bottom and smooth and warm on the shaft and tips. I have never found an antler this fresh before. I made a point to go this year as soon as they start dropping. This is when you find the ones with the best color, as the longer they sit in the sun the more bleached and brittle they become. This one is perfect.
I do a circle around the spot I found my antler and hope to find the matching set. It is not often that you find a matching pair, but I am hopeful anyway. I find sign of their beds, a coyote den and plentiful sign of sage grouse. No antler, so I continue on through this sea of sage and earth. I take a moment to remember the small details of this day. I often rush through tasks in my daily life, the day a blur of patterns, colors, papers and chores. This day will be slow and mindful. It will roll and meander just as the creek off to my left does. It will catch and babble over the ebony rocks, it will slow as it travels along the sandy banks and it will shimmer and shine as the afternoon light catches its’ ripples.
I meander over towards the creek for a little easier walking. I stop to take a few photos as the sun pauses in the sky to produce that golden light we all hope to be a part of as the day shifts towards its’ end. I slip my hands into the water and wash the earth that has been wind-blown onto my rosy cheeks clean. It is cold and delightful. It is pure and honest. As I step back, I take a moment to sit on the bank and watch the play of the red-winged black birds. Spring is upon us and the cycle of life continues on.
I rendezvous with my brother back at the red pick-up truck we parked off the edge of the dirt road. We congratulate each other on our finds and quickly speak of our hunger and thirst that our bodies have built up after a wonderful day of exploring. Back at our little straw-bale cabin, I have set out two big slices of ham from our summer pig that my husband and I raised, a handful of garden potatoes that I have stored away and a can of beets pickled during the heat of the summer. I quietly think to myself it is happening…I am living my dream.