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Coming Home

I remember my hometown,
and the beginning of school time.

The last of the hot days of summer
and the Promise of Autumn.

The best time of the year was Autumn.

We'd ride to school in our Flannel Shirts, and it would be chilly, but, on the way home, we'd have our t shirts and be working up a sweat.

The sky would turn a special kind of blue. Not a blue in just a color aspect. It just felt different.
More focused, more real.
More "touchable" an almost "sacred" color.

I can remember the days when the Star Thistle would flat my tire, and I'd have to push my brothers Schwinn Varsity (still 2 years too big for me) along the roadside.

Folks would wave and ask if I needed a lift, or, at least they'd wave and give a honk "Hello".

People were like that back home.
People were like that back then.

Some mornings, frost would form in my hair by the time I made it to School, and it was tough to undo the bike lock with frozen hands.

We'd all sit on the heater in the first class of the day to warm up, sniffling, snorting, wiping our noses on our sleeves.

Slowly getting the feeling back in our toes, our faces rosey.

I remember talking with the other kids about hunting and rifles and nature.
Scouting for bear, elk, deer, and what was better, a 30-30, or a 30.06.

The teachers would even join in the conversation, and many of the young ladies in class would discuss their trips with their dads and uncles and brothers to the woods.

It was pretty much a given that in the fall, kids missed a week or two of the first part of the school year to some sort of family trip back to the woods. A homecoming, an actual pilgrimage of sorts.

It was an accepted part of boyhood and manhood, brotherhood and "humanhood" there and then.

Lessons were passed from seasoned hunters to younger ones. Lessons about ethics, and attitude, and working as a team, even some about right and wrong.

The Valley seemed a giant place and it would take hours to get from one side to the other on a 35 lb Steel 10 Speed.

A guy had to be careful to ride with a pellet gun, or a flyrod (or sometimes both, because adventure was a possibility at every creek, or hillside or Orchard pond).

It was hard as hell to ride in Rubber boots, but we did it for the adventure of a new stretch of creek bed. It was worth it.

A kid could ditch his bike on the roadside and cut under a barbed wire fence, cross a pasture and go catch a steelhead on Bear creek, or Spear bull frogs, or even go up in the old Barn on Mr Carpenhowers farm to look at the Owls up in the tower.

As a lad, All I had to do was ask, and folks just said "sure, just be careful, Watch the boards on the ladder up to the tower, there is a loose one or two up there".

Things that kids don't get to do in this day and age.

Folks would give permission just for a fellow asking and with the promise that the cattle wouldn't be spooked or any gates left open.

I was able to get out today and go for a hike up on one of my old hillsides. Decided to see if things had Changed.

Fawns still seem to like the shaded dirt in the cool spaces around here, it was working up to be pretty hot, and this little guy was sleeping off a moonlit night.

The heat still rolls up these hillsides as the sun hits them, and man, by mid morning, It gets Hot.
Hoppers in the grass all over and lots of Thistle going to seed.

As the morning got even hotter, the animals decided to do what anyone would, and that was to kick back and catch a snooze.

I saw a set of antlers and decided that it must be a buck, so I quietly made my way towards it to see if I could get a shot of a sleeper. The wind was right, and I was able to get very close.

As soon as the shutter clicked, he was off like a scalded rabbit!

He really bolted.

Was glad to get a Sleeper shot on him... That takes a lot of luck.
And then a nice broadside too.

Seems like a Doe is still pretty sleek and quiet in the brush, It always makes me wonder how an animal can survive in an area with as much poison oak as we have out here.

This doe was fine with me walking along slowly, and she bolted right after this shot .

Soon I found her boyfriend, A little button buck.

I was able to keep walking and soon I realized that I had another set of antlers to see, These one were still in velvet.

I am certain I have poison oak after this stalk, but It was a nice little buck, so I decided to brave it and take the photo.

After all, nothing good comes without some sort of risk.

I think the best little buck I saw today was this last 3x3. It had a funny twist in its left antler on the top of its tallest tine.

I also ran into a great Granary tree,

This group of about 4 Woodpeckers have Jammed about 10,000 acorns into holes they have hollowed out into this big dead snag, so that they can have a good food supply for lean times ahead.

It is kind of a bank account for a woodpecker.

I was hoping to get a shot of a big Black Tailed Jack Rabbit and some wild turkeys today, but it didn't happen.

It was nice to get out and run the hills I ran in my youth, and great to see that there are still some animals out there to keep a guy on his toes, and stealthy.

All that Star thistle is still out there too,

least this time, I didn't have 15 lbs of books in my backpack to lug along.

Even though I have been away from this place for many moons,

These foothills will always feel like home to me.
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