Summer’s last sigh

We went on a little walk this morning after breakfast on the edge of the Flathead River. It’s a place we walk every now and then. Not really a hike, though we do pick our way over rocks and across sand. It’s more of a place for a stroll, then for standing beside the river to reflect. To think about whatever issues are consuming one’s life right now, or to shove those issues into a compartment in the mind and simply be instead. I always try to think only the big thoughts beside that big river. To listen to the water tumbling over rocks and refuse to allow the petty thoughts do their own tumbling about.

River bendDidn’t succeed in thinking big thoughts today, though. Instead Big Country and I talked over what we are always talking over, our business. Turning over what we’re doing in our heads, trying to do better. Sometimes it all feels like we’re trying to squeeze water out of a stone, blood from a turnip. But we talk about it still, because it’s our livelihood and we’ve got to keep striving, trying, working and working and working to make our business succeed.

But walking by the river helps. It’s where I can let the stress that seems all-consuming lately fall off my shoulder for a few minutes. Where I can listen to the sound of the water on the rocks, watch the play of the sun on the ripples, notice that the tired green leaves on the aspens are fading golden. Autumn. It’s almost here. It’s the last day of August, hurray!

River skyTomorrow we’re headed up the North Fork for huckleberry turnovers and a hike by our most favorite lake, Bowman. I’m going to try again with thinking those big thoughts, which to me really just means opening my brain to all that is happening around me, mapping it with the flashing of my neurons. Listen to the water. Feel the wind. Watch my son marvel at all these new sights and experiences. Forget about the stress and longing and fear waiting for me at home.

BridgeI’m ready for August to be over. I’m ready for summer to end. It’s been a long summer, full of telling other people where the best hikes are instead of hiking them myself. It’s been a summer of hard, hard work. I am not writing this for sympathy. I am merely observing that I feel like those aspen leaves look: tired, faded. But on the other hand, perhaps I’m turning golden too. My favorite season of the year is just around the corner. I’ve got to believe that good things and easier times are coming with it.

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And sometimes you just get lucky

So, there I was, driving home from an assignment at a local school. I’d spent hours longer there than I planned. Somehow I got roped into helping students with their long division homework in the after-school program. I was waiting to get to the main event, in which the after-school program director was going to show the kids animal skulls and a lynx pelt. But they had to finish their homework first. Argh. Anyway, three and a half hours later, FREEDOM. (It had already been a 10-hour work day.)

I was driving back home and I saw this kid on a bicycle on the side of the road riding toward me. Then I noticed that he was sporting a foot-tall red mohawk. We gawked at each other as I drove past (me at the mohawk, him likely at the Nebraska license plate). I drove about half a mile and said to myself, “What was I thinking!” and turned around, hoping he’d still be riding down the road.

I found him, young Brandon, and pulled over. I coerced him (well, I think he was stoically excited, actually) into letting me take some photos of him for a feature photo in next week’s newspaper. What a good sport. Only had one person stop and ask if I needed help because my flashers were on (read: Are you trying to abduct this poor kid?).