Sunday, November 22, 2009

After The Ride

Autumn 2009

Well, folks it’s been about two months since I graced these pages with a post. I apologize to those readers who look forward to my ramblings, but for me it has been a time to move, get settled (to some extent) and take a break from writing.

A lot has happened since autumn 2008. Seems senators and congressman have taken us for a ride. They have bailed-out some rich banks and insurance companies. They are about to bail-out some more rich insurance companies and medical corporations, and regular Americans that called their hand during the summer recess have been labeled “loons,” and worse. (Tangent: Oddly, I looked up “bailed-out,” and it referenced a person being bailed-out of jail. Something to think about)

But, the ride(s) we are being taken on are distractions from what most of my friends do in autumn. For some it is a time to experience summer’s green foliage turning to bright vernal leaves and finally fluttering to ground.

Our Christmas Card two years ago.

For others it is the smell of Hoppe’s, the sound of brass cartridges in wool pockets, and hearing the sizzle of bacon on the griddle and elk bugles in the meadow. A quick comeback or roasting a hunter may be heard through the cloth of the next tent.

Those who have read this blog may know or assume that fall is traditionally a time when I am busy taking hunters into Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness. Mornings horses and mules are gathered, frozen saddles are cinched on, and when we finally sit in the saddle we find that the guy who said, “90% of you heat is lost through your head,” had never set in a leather saddle at zero degrees. Days begin in the dark. Days end in the dark.

A rangy Montana whitetail in our shelter belt. (Wende Carroll photo)

This autumn my days begin in the dark and end in the dark, not because I am valeting hunters, but because I am in Alaska. I didn’t do any hunting this year. That makes me sad. I’m not much into killin’ anymore, but I do enjoy hunting and camping and joking with friends about the days happenings--and mishappenings. It’s not just the fish that get away, those “snap shots at 6-point mossy horned bull elk” get away as well. (If ya think bull elk are dumb animals--well, read this.)

Oddly, as I am in Alaska, I still have a connection to Montana. My wife, Wende, is holding the fort. The last two months have been the longest we've been apart since we became one “Carroll.”

Yesterday she called and said that whitetails were “doing it” in the shelter belt around the house. Being me, I asked, “Did you get any pictures?” She didn’t. She got pictures, but not of that dirty deed.

After The Ride (Wende Carroll photo)

Our shelter belt is a haven for deer trying to escape hunters. Two years ago a one-antlered mule deer buck found refuge on Thanksgiving. The photo was good enough for a Christmas card that year. I’m not sure if he lost the antler from fightin’ or from a bullet. Doesn’t matter. They just seem to know that we don’t blast things around the house.

Many times I have wanted to blast one, or two. Deer are hell on new shelter-belt trees. A tree fights below zero cold, above century heat, Front Range wind and Montana drought; finally grows a few inches and then is whittled to a toothpick by a rangy buck. One of these days I’m gonna have to talk to one or all of those deer. How can they manage to hide in our trees if they continue to whittle ‘em?

A shelter belt's worst nightmare. (Wende Carroll photo)

Whittlin’ trees is something that comes natural to ‘em, just like Hoppe’s, pancakes and bacon is to my autumn. This week is Thanksgiving.

Deer ruttin’, trees turning, leaves falling, families gatherin’ and stuffin’ stuffin’ ‘em.

I have much to be thankful for. I will keep that private for now.

I wish ya’ all a Thanksgiving to remember.

PS. I titled this post from a title Wende gave one of the photos she sent me: After The Ride. She was of course referring to the picture she took after the dirty deed, not of what will happen after the ride our politicians are taking us on. Although the results are about the same.