Picture Rock, Installment One
By EZ Ryyder
The Estimated Prophet turned the key and the Rover started. Glancing back to make sure the dog was clear or that a moose wasn’t directly in his path, he backed up and got rolling down the backside of the hill. I sort of looked back too. Just to double check.
North Road goes north, as it should. At the turn, the road drops away and gets pretty muddy. Most people avoid a stretch like this at this time of year unless they have four-wheel drives. Even then, it is so narrow and the runoff has cut ruts so deep on the edges that there are two-foot ditches where the plowed up banks used to be. When it’s dry, it’s still a pretty tight squeeze to let two cars get by. You’re only going about five miles per hour and you wave or nod as you pass each other. It’s close. Now, with the mud, if you move over at the wrong spot you will sink to your axles. Even with the Rover, you’re in for a poke in the mud.
There is a low fog trapped by the redstone walls and even though the sage is barely showing, it smells rich and pungent. Dripping and trickling, snowmelt water runs down the road in narrow veins and where they merge, the path washes out. I keep an eye out to be sure the Prophet doesn’t drift away with thoughts somewhere else. He never does. But you never know.
Down past the old horse ranch the road plunges through a little gully and then climbs right back up the other side towards a long ridgeline. At the top of the hill you could see the divide across the mountain valley if it weren’t for the fog trapped by the hillside. Where the road crosses the highway it turns to pavement but don’t think you will go much faster. The dips and holes will shake and buck your shocks and springs until they squeak or your fillings rattle out. Slow going all around.
So, you might as well look out to see if there is anything moving where the forest meets the meadow. You could see a flock of wild turkeys or a coyote. Maybe an elk. I don’t think you will see the bear. Definitely call out if you do. I haven’t seen him in a while.
Once, he snorted at me from behind a big boulder when I was riding my mountain bike. Actually he growled at Marley and the dog veered off. We just kept going. The next day I went back without the canine patrol and walked around that big rock to the back. Just to see if there were any signs or tracks. There was a dug out corner where the bear was digging and some tracks. That was early last fall. I know he is still around because he was at Mary Anne’s feeder just last week. He’s a big old brownish-black male and I’m pretty sure the Prophet was on the hill first but maybe not.
Rolling down to the river we come to a stop by the “put in” spot. It’s still early in the season and the runoff hasn’t really even started. With hardly a word, we pull our waders on over our jeans and lace up our felt bottom boots. I tie on a Griffith’s Gnat while the Prophet selects a twisted midge.
Next: Installment Two, Jam
© EZ Ryyder 2012
EZ Ryyder spends his time a little bit farther down the road. Past the city limits.