Friday, July 25, 2014

Big Sky bounty: At home on the range in northern Rockies summer

BEARS COME OVER THE MOUNTAIN (AND ALMOST INTO THE KITCHEN) WHILE CRITTER, BEAUTY  ABOUND 

This handsome fellow came across the yard at High Chaparral north of Nye, then scooted across the meadow.



This bear has visited three years in a row.  He has a distinctive ear marking.
STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

THE BEAR came again last night.  I was tidying up the kitchen, enjoying the hummingbird tweets and twitters, when he brushed against the kitchen window.  He pushed on the screen, growled, and I growled back.
Keller prowls the mountains in all seasons for photos.
Then with trembling hands (and one arm in a sling) I closed the glass windows and watched him circle the house, trying each window, trying every opening for a chance to come inside.
Sunflowers are favorites of the birdies and of Cookie, here at High Chaparral.
A friend down the road here in the rural West Fork of the Stillwater River kept a "spill-over" freezer on her closed-in porch for years.  One day she came home and found a bear eating ice cream and cookies.  He'd pawed open the top-fill freezer and helped himself to dessert for 12.
I KNEW why the bear came calling.
The night before, we'd left the garage door open -- accidentally of course -- and he sensibly came in, lured no doubt by the fragrant smells of barbecue on our discarded paper plates.
He tore open the plastic garbage bag, ate a few fragments of paper, then ripped into 40 pounds of grain-free Natural Balance dog food -- the most expensive money can buy. (Nothing's too good for the Yorkies -- or their guests!)
BECAUSE I was the only human in the house, I didn't want to risk the bear's possible intrusion.
"He wouldn't have actually come in the house," my partner chastised later. "Oh, yeah?"
Here in the hinterlands, we have lots of bear stories.  Bears in the kitchen, bears in the bedroom, bears in the basement, bears on the roof. Lions and tigers and, yes, bears! Someone's been sleeping in my bed....
THIS MAMA bear and her yearling feasted, then crept up on the earthen wine cellar and onto the roof, scampering up to our artesian well then into the mountain brush to wherever bears go.
Ranches offer a welcome with this traditional Montana arch.
We've seen lots of other wonderful critters and gorgeous landscapes during our Beartooth times here at High Chaparral.  Family and friends from Ireland and Israel, Norway, California, Georgia, New York and Oregon, treasure their "critter sightings" and cherish the flora and gorgeous scenery. Come enjoy the bounty under the Big Sky, where the deer and the antelope play.
Polish up your whistling or singing style, or hum along to this old family favorite, a beloved cowboy and campfire song.

 

 HOME ON THE RANGE

Cookie, Nick and Nora play where the skies are not cloudy.
Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

(Chorus after each verse:)
Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Where the air is so pure, and the zephyrs so free,
The breezes so balmy and light,
That I would not exchange my home on the range,
For all of the cities so bright.

Twilight and the evening skies are a big attraction in Big Sky country.
How often at night when the heavens are bright,
With the light from the glittering stars,
Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed,
If their glory exceeds that of ours.

Oh, I love these wild flowers in this dear land of ours,
The curlew I love to hear cry,
And I love the white rocks and the antelope flocks,
That graze on the mountain slopes high.

Oh give me a land where the bright diamond sand,
Flows leisurely down in the stream;
Where the graceful white swan goes gliding along,
Like a maid in a heavenly dream.

Then I would not exchange my home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play;
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Cookie's nightclub gigs in Montana and California are
temporarily on hold as her left arm and hand heal.
COMING UP:  While our writer hopes to regain use of her  badly damaged left arm and hand, she reflects on the tens of thousands of people who are permanently disabled. Brave amputees and determined quadriplegics have Cookie's earnest respect as she struggles -- albeit only temporarily -- with the daily challenges such an injury provides. A tribute to those whose limb function has been altered by illness or injury, and who improvise and learn to lead normal lives. Cookie is recording the hundreds of things she does with her limbs, and is giving thanks! She hopes in time to be typing again with both hands, but realizes thousands type with a single limb -- or their feet or mouths. This accident has opened her heart and mind..... a good thing. Then she and Keller share photos from recent trips to Lisbon, and the California coast where they sampled oceanfront hotels, and more.  The couple's credo is: have fun, be adventurous, and remember to explore, learn and live.  Check them out Wednesdays and weekends at: www.whereiscookie.com

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