Opening the front door after a long drive home from a visit to family in Texas, I heard a text message chime in on my phone. Busy unloading luggage, I ignored it.
When I looked, I saw that it was from our next-door neighbor. Her husband had just chased 4 grizzlies out of their chicken coop. We must have driven in just after he fired the warning shots into the hillside.
“Which way did they go?” I replied quickly.
“Headed your way,” she wrote back. “Or else they went into the aspen grove and on up the valley.”
“Welcome home,” she added.
We looked, but never saw them. A friend told me later that it could be the grizzly sow named Fiona, with her 3 two-year-olds.
Our local bear expert, Brian DeBolt (who identifies himself on LinkedIn as a “Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator” with Wyoming Game & Fish), said he hasn’t heard the name Fiona. But he added that she’s probably the same grizz who passes through this time every spring with her 3 “kids” — always curious but never confrontational.
He can’t be sure, because when they once tried to fit that bear with a radio collar, she was shy and ran away. “It looks from the pictures like two of the kids had tags,” he added, which seems to tag these as the repeat visitors — but again he can’t be sure, because “we don’t collar the kids.”
The signs of spring are everywhere. It’s warm enough to take my morning bike ride up the highway.
Businesses are reopening, expanding, starting up. A shiny sign announces a new Ace hardware, opening soon. The new Honey House is already in business selling local honey, next to the Rustic Pine Tavern. Studio 207 has improved its branding with bright signs that say “hand-made goods.”
Shannon’s trendy boutique has relocated slightly westward, expanding to add a much-needed sideline managed by her husband: bicycles and bike supplies. Landscape artist Gary Keimig has reopened his gallery in her former location.
Town is already busy with visitors. The cars that passed me on the highway this morning wore plates that read Texas, California, and Florida. At Pete’s Pond this afternoon, the kids who were fishing had come from Utah and Florida.
When a friend told me the cowboy was overrun, for an instant I wanted to ask who it was and who struck him. Of course she meant, being its owner, that the Cowboy Cafe already had a line of would-be diners waiting on the sidewalk.
The wildlife is busy too. We saw robins perform a mating dance in the meadow. The “picket pins” stand upright behind the back porch, as ever in warm weather, guarding the entrance to their burrows. A male bluebird — a favorite sign of spring in this town — is just as vigilant from his perch atop the birdhouse beside the utility pole, watching his mate fly back and forth with twigs to build a nest inside.
Another pair is busy trying to reoccupy the hollow log beside the back door of our new screen porch. They abandoned it last year during the construction, and obviously didn’t welcome my presence as I worked on this laptop at the table inside the porch.
Who knew that male bluebirds have a patch of green on their backs? It was beautiful to see one so close.
However, I’m sorry to say, unless they can decide to tolerate my presence I expect this pair to find a different home. I won’t abandon my new enclosed porch for their sake.
It’s delightful to work there in the morning, with the beautiful view of the ridge and the fresh breeze passing through the doors, and just as pleasant to have tea there in the afternoon, sheltered from the wind that always picks up at midday in summer.
Now that the weather is fine, humans are at work outdoors as well. The roofer is finally working noisily overhead. A team is building a new fence along the highway.
Here’s the very welcome welcome-home message I saw when we first entered the driveway, even before I received my neighbor’s text.
Everyone over in town already has fiberoptic Internet service. Now that the ground has thawed, I guess it will soon be our turn.
The Internet here is already flawless, for our purposes, and has been for years. When that work is done, I guess it will be even better. (But what can be better than flawless?)
© Lois Wingerson, 2021