Eyes drawn by the screech of hawks, he watched a hunting pair swoop over the valley, tails glowing red in the dawnlight. Silently stepping on the grassy game trail he was following, he saw a large eared head come up. Unalarmed the deer moved away. His homemade backpack sat light. He’d rolled his woolen blankets in a canvas tarp/poncho. He’d slept cold, but he liked that, as he liked the feel of the rocks under his homemade elkskin moccasins.
He turned aside at rustling in a thicket above him, hoping to see the bears reportedly in this area, but the sound moved off too quickly. A squirrel skittered up a tree and fussed at his rudeness. Farther on, a loud splatting guided him to watch a beaver play, diving, then carving a v with his nose in a glassy pond . He’d stood in this place last fall to watch a young bull moose with ridiculous, hand sized antlers like false eyelashes browse in the rushes, scratching its neck with a long and gangly leg.
Later, near timberline, melting snowbanks sparkled in rivulets through bright green foliage, golden yellow buttercups and glacier lilies. Everywhere the sound of trickling water and the spongy feel of water charged earth. He caught a scent of rotting flesh and found in a pine copse the body of a young buck. Probably shot last fall and ran up here to die, he thought sorrowfully. Though it would do more good nourishing the trees than thrown away from plates of people who didn’t like the gamey flavor or just thrown away.
He turned back down, walking along a stream where clumps of larkspur shot purple blue through the grasses. An area reddened by hundreds of skyrocket gilia gladdened his eyes. He noted early columbine and bent over a hairy maroon vase plant.
Followed by the chain saw drone of a deerfly and the whine of mosquitos he moved down until the hills split apart and he could see over shimmering quakies into Liahona where large trees hid his own house. He hoped his mother wouldn’t find out about Jed’s not being able to make it. She’d have a fit if she knew he’d come alone. But alone meant silence. Alone meant not even the smoke of a cooking fire.
Far behind its noise, a jet’s contrail incised the sky. At his feet a beer can. He sighed. He would never forgive heaven for putting him on earth a hundred and fifty years too late!