After a deep-snow winter, spring brought floods rushing down our local rivers and creeks. Murky, muddy water filled some streets and houses and surrounded others guarded by sandbags and giant water bladders. The rivers are still high, but the flooding has diminished. Fishing in the Big Wood is still not possible but should return, perhaps by mid-July.
Rain and snow melt turned our hillside meadow and surrounding hills and mountains into lush gardens and green velvet slopes. And then the wildflowers burst into bloom!
Mountain bluebells and arrowleaf balsamroot—daisy-like long-stemmed blossoms—crowd together up and down draws and canyons and in front and back of our home. Breath-taking yellow vistas greet every scene in our valley. The bluebells tuck themselves in and around and spreading grasses and green up sagebrush. No sooner have the bells and balsamroot begun to fade than purple and yellow lupine spike into view, wafting perfume among the sagebrush and aspen.
Pink sticky geraniums arrive in clumps,soon to be surrounded by penstemon, shading from pale blue to deep ocean blue and sometimes fading into lilac, but always in stacks of snapdragon-like flowers, one on top of another.
In the old days, we considered summer had arrived around July 4 when Coeur d’Alene Lake warmed enough for swimming. Until then, we expected rain and cool weather. Here in the Wood River Valley at 6000 feet, summer arrives sooner with hot temperatures and the arrival of lupine, lemon yellow buckwheat, fire-engine-red rocket penstemon, and wild blue flax spreading a painter’s palette everywhere. Even as wildflowers color our landscapes, hillside grasses are beginning to shade into amber, a gold backdrop in our mountains. Our fall asters are already springing forth, a summer treat.
Columbines burst onto the scene, too: larger ones in pink and pearl and in one instance, white. Miniature native columbines trumpet their exquisite shapes along our patio and walkway, sharing space with yellow cinquefoil and delicate pink blossoms on a stalk. I don’t know their name. Do you? Catmint and asters quickly open to complement the lupine and penstemon in different shades of purple.
Bees and butterflies, house wrens and robins and swallows add motion and music fronting the background of rustling aspen leaves, our substitute for mountain waters. A mourning dove sings its song—oo-ooo-oo—a plaintive sound, reminding me of the flight of time.
I have been recuperating from a fairly major medical procedure and couldn’t ask for a better accompaniment while I rest and begin to walk daily. Our walks through our meadow bring surprises and joy every day. Enforced rest also brought much time for reading. Here are some of the books I enjoyed and recommend for summer pleasure:
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
The Underworld by Kevin Canty. For those of you familiar with my book, The Good Times Are All Gone Now and Greg Olsen’s The Deep Dark, this gives another, fictional perspective of the Sunshine Mine Fire in 1972.
Redeployment by Phil Klay, stories of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die by Randall Platt. This fascinating novel is set in Poland during World War II.
The mysteries by Martin Walker, beginning with Chief Bruno—all set in the Dordogne region of France with the added flourish of French cooking.
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, set in the future after an epidemic left few people alive in this country.
The Soul of a Lion by Anne Hillerman
Temperance Creek by Pamela Royes, a memoir of roughing it in the Hells Canyon/Wallowa country, along with sheepherding and some cowboying.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer, an adventure story about saving the ancient libraries of Timbuktu in Mali from the Taliban several years ago.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This book gives insights into the world of people who suffer from lost jobs and hopeless futures. Reading it reminded me of Kellogg when the mines closed and the fall-out over decades.
A History of Indians in the Sun Valley Area by Tony Tekaroniake Evans, a small treasure of a book.
I am appearing at the WELL-READ MOOSE bookstore in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. I hope all of you in the area can plan to attend!
My all-class reunion at Kellogg High School begins Friday, August 11. I will be there with all my books for sale.
My third Nellie Burns and Moonshine Mystery is in progress at Craters of the Moon. I’ll post when it is available!
Photos: Gerry Morrison: bluebells, balsamroot and penstemon. I took the rest.