Traffic chased us from Seattle, at least in part. Four years ago, when we decided to sell our Seattle home and permanently move to central Idaho, we listed a number of reasons: two houses cost too much to maintain, rainy winter weather in Seattle depressed us, we loved our winter home, and we could no longer bear Seattle traffic.
Little did we know that traffic would grow to be a major reason to live in central Idaho in the Sun Valley area. Instead of automobiles, trucks, fire engines, police cars, pedestrians, and drive-by shootings, we found and still luxuriate in different kinds of traffic. All photos taken by Gerry Morrison.
Chukars are occasional visitors around our house, although a family of blue grouse settles in for weeks at a time.
The chukar probably wasn’t looking to wallow in the hot tub, but it seemed drawn to the wood structure. Magpies are ubiquitous and annoying, but beautiful in their blue, black and white tuxes. They scare away the song birds and tear down swallow nests in the spring. We knock on windows and shout to flush them away. Sometimes it works. Pine siskins, juncos, American goldfinches and house finches swarm the feeders we fill in winter.
Other seekers of crumbs are the cottontail rabbits that flourish in our sagebrush parcel. The bunnies position themselves under the bird feeders all winter long and scamper across our porch.
Evidence of their presence is everywhere: round soft brown pellets. Did you know rabbits eat their own scat for the moisture in winter time? We wish they would eat faster. Wolves occasionally have made an appearance on the hillside to the north of us, more often when we had cats sitting on the porch or patio.
The truck size traffic in our paradise includes small vans like foxes, their red color a welcome flash in the snow. Unfortunately fox in this area suffered from mange a couple of years ago and these critters have virtually disappeared. We hope they come back so we can watch their kits wrestle in our front meadow again. Coyotes aren’t as large as muscular pickups, and their howls at night serenade us to sleep from time to time.
Deer chew on tree trunks, willow branches, aspen limbs, crabapples and scatter if we appear. Sometimes, they rest among the aspens.
Semi-trucks of ungulates don’t visit as often, but when they do, we rush from window to window, seeking to capture them in photographs. Our huge wild rose bush sprouts red rose-hips in the fall and winter.
This winter, a bull elk couldn’t get enough, but also couldn’t reach the higher berries, although he tried. Two moose were not as interested in the berries as in the rabbitbrush, willows, and bitterbrush in our meadow. They snuck bites of crabapple bark too.
The sun stays late on our slope and, at different times, the elk and moose napped on our berm, and then they moved on for greener, er sproutier pastures. Herds of elk browse along the mountain behind us, their pale bottoms signaling like flags.
An ermine chases back and forth on the slope in back of our house, its long skinny white body bounding across the snow field, then diving into the roots of sagebrush. As I write, its black tail end catches my eye several times a day. Unfortunately, it prefers the stone entrance to our house as its latrine. I don’t blame it. Squatting in snow would be chilly.
How fortunate we are to live in such a paradise. Even as dead leaves are scattered by the wind, the sun shines and shines. Lots of snow should help keep our aquifers burbling deep underground. Soon, our native landscape of sagebrush, bunch grass, and wildflowers will appear again in warm spring weather. Skiing may end for the year, but other charms—and our wild traffic—entertain all year long.
Stanley Library has named me 2016 Featured Writer and will host me for a reading at Redfish Lake Lodge on July 30. Mark your calendars and join us for lunch and a presentation!
True West Magazine named MOONSHADOWS as Best of the Rest in fiction in its January 2016 issue of Best of the West books!
MOONSHADOWS was named Finalist for historical fiction in the May Sarton Literary Award for Story Circle Network. It is such an honor to be named for this award. Not only is May Sarton a favorite writer of mine, Story Circle Network is a major supporter of women’s writing.
I am available to attend book club meetings. I have met with one group in upper New York State by Skype, in person with one group in Ketchum, Idaho, and will meet with another group in Wisconsin by Skype. Please email me at email@example.com if you would like me to attend your group, in person or by Skype, and talk about MOONSHADOWS and writing.
BASQUE MOON, another Nellie and Moonshine mystery, is due out in August and available in September! Watch for news about its release and readings and visits in your area.