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Sunday, October 26, 2014
Don't Fence Me In
There are no fences in Lakeside, Montana. Well, to be precise, we do have a small area of our back yard cordoned off with a five foot high fence to keep Meg in when she goes to do her business, but there are no fences between the homes. And the homes are a good distance apart: we can see our neighbors’ framework, but only hear them if they’re yelling and the wind is blowing in the right direction. Yet privacy remains a relative term because we have a constant flow of visitors passing through our back yard, and our front lawn. Between the house and the area our grandson calls the Pokey Field is a large patch of green (in summer, with water) or white (in winter, with water transformed). At times it becomes a playground, a rest stop, and a kitchen.
Common visitors are white tailed deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, robins, song birds, and cotton tail rabbits. We have seen but more often hear Pileated Woodpeckers hammering away at the trees nearby and on rare brazen occasions the siding on our house. We have seen Mountain Quail and ruffled grouse, a red fox, and once, a young wolf, all from our front porch. A Great Horned Owl lives nearby but we have only caught glimpses of it – when we let Meg out at night we make noise to keep the bird away from our five pound Chihuahua, who would make a manageable meal.
But without a fence to lock us in and the world out, our back yard actually stretches across western Montana and all the way into Wyoming. The list of creatures we have had the delight to see includes Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Osprey, Bison, Mountain Goats, coyotes, black bears and Grizzly Bears. Our kids watched a young female cougar watching their dogs just outside their home. I have seen magnificent elk, a small herd hanging with a powerful looking male with a broken antler, walking the street of Gardiner at the north entrance to Yellowstone, while walking back to our motel room after dinner. It constantly amazes me what’s out there if only you’re paying attention, even in the middle of a city but especially on the edge of the natural world. It makes a person glad for breath.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..