Thursday, June 20, 2013

The American West

In June, Northern Minnesota is gloriously lush and potently fragrant with a myriad of blossoming shrubs.  The fishing is at its best and birders are quickly overwhelmed by a symphony of song.  The weather is pleasant, the lakes are crystalline and despite all of this, it is close to unbearable.  While the loon may be the State’s official bird, a running contender has been and always will be that six legged pest: the mosquito.  June is bug month and these critters fly rampant over the countryside, frolicking on dozing fishermen and whining against those bothersome screened windows.  For visitors to this area, mosquitoes are a pest…but one that can be dealt with.  For a resident, the bugs’ persistence is enough to make even the heartiest of fishermen a little (sometimes a lot) crazy. 

          Even though my phone (tired and old as it is) can receive text messages from across the world via outer space, technology still is yet to come up with an effective cure-all for repelling mosquitoes.  So, when they descend upon our home like the aliens from Mel Gibson’s Signs, there is only one way to escape.  Run away.  Far, far away.  1400 miles, to be exact.

          A recent invitation from a couple of wonderful friends currently living in southern Colorado has provided my family and I with the unique opportunity to explore the great American west.  The ranch home is flanked by the Rocky Mountains on its western border, New Mexico’s flatland to the south and rolling hills to the north and east.  A gaping canyon of toothy sandstone cradles the rolling pastures that our Midwestern horses are now kicking their heels up in.

          In a week my palomino gelding will have acclimated to the altitude (7000+ feet in the ranch’s valley) and I will be free to explore the mountains, canyons and forests.  I’ve heard rumors of trout filled streams and hidden pools nestled in the mountain’s secret reaches and the canyon promises to be every bit as exciting—especially if the cougars take interest in my yellow horse.  As it is, the palomino and I have several hundred acres of valley to nose around in for the next several days.  Already I can feel this Colorado sun scorching my Minnesota/Ireland skin and I’m hoping for a summer tan by the time I venture back north.

             For now, I’m off to find my guitar and a patch of shade beneath one of those ponderosa pines.  Maybe a wide brimmed hat and a margarita while I’m at it.  Might as well make the most of the summer.  Slainte, mosquitoes!


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