Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A forever memory ...

Marlene Terry
Thought it was a sign that I needed to share my story, when the website advertising outdoor vacations in central Montana, of-all-places, popped up on my computer screen three different times the past week.
Not that I have anything at all astounding to report about that very beautiful part of our country, but the photo of a majestic elk on the website, brought back a forever memory of an early winter day my family and I spent at Pine Creek in eastern Idaho.

I've talked about Pine Creek before. It's the place with a lodge that people can use for family reunions and other events ... the one with the humongous hillside slippery slide.

It was after we'd finished Thanksgiving dinner that year, when we arrived dressed in our winter gear ready to play. We were also anxious to find the perfect Christmas tree.
The outing was a tradition when our kids were still at home and was made more fun with the presence of any extended family members who were visiting for the holiday.

Generally, the adults divided in two groups The men, donned snow shoes and would head for the forest to look for trees. The women stayed behind to steward over the hilarity of the kids zooming down the slide, shooting off the end and landing in a piled-up billowy fluff of deep snow.
My place was always at the bottom of the slide with the hillside, lodge and the area above it, in plain sight.
The screams and laughter of the kids was exhilarating that day. Those happy sounds seemed to linger in the cold air and reverberate like a bell.
That's when it happened.

From a grove of trees above the slide, a huge bull elk walked out, positioning itself in a clearing ... very curious I think, about what was making all that noise. ... I held my breath thinking that it wouldn't be there all that long.

The time passed and I stood frozen, not by the weather, but by the unbelievable sight of an animal, almost always aloof and uncomfortable around humans, that seemed to know it wasn't in any danger at all. In fact it looked to be enjoying what a bunch of joyful kids were doing, and spent several minutes observing it.

Later, with movement and sounds of the men returning with Christmas trees, the bull rallied, turned its head toward where the men were coming from and shook the snow from its massive rack.
... Then as quietly and magically as it appeared ... it was gone.

... As I said ... a forever memory!

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