A Day to Never Forget I had a day of vacation to burn as we had worked the day after Thanksgiving so I chose the first of December. It was a Thursday and my plan was to lay around all day and just relax. So my wife’s alarm goes off and I get up and around, make coffee and talk with my bride and as she goes off to work I kneel on the couch and watch her drive away. I watch some news and I kneel on the couch again to peer outside. I’m looking at the south side of Rathdrum Bald. The mountain is tall, white with snow and the patches of timber are stunning in the beautiful sunshine. Looking at the mountain I begin to think about the hunting we had done earlier in the year. Deb and I both bagged our Elk. The freezer looked great with all the bundles of freezer paper. It had been a long dry spell of not hunting. So I make the choice to go off into the woods to look for the sneaky white tail deer. This morning was spectacular, sun, snow that made the world look so clean and new. To go with all the beauty was the cold, about 18 degrees out. I gather my cod weather gear, a bottle or two of water, grab the rifle and out the door I go, a long five minute drive to a little piece of state land just North and West of Rathdrum. Pulling into the old access road to park. Ha, no one has been here today, no fresh tracks in the snow and I’m getting excited for the hunt. Pulling on my snow packs, grabbing my gloves, rifle and binoculars and step out of the van. This is where the magical day started. The cold sir seemed to sting at my nose and throat, the scent of the frozen pines and firs hit my nose, then as I drew as deep a breath I could, the cold bit at my throat and lungs. It felt good, smelled good and I opened my eyes. The big Ponderosa Pines up on the hill along with the outcroppings of White Fir clustered together so tight you couldn’t see into them let alone walk through them. Heading up the road the snow lightly crunches under my feet. About fifty yards or so and cross some tracks in the snow heading up the ridge to my left. Thinking OK, I’ll follow. The snow is about sixteen inches deep; a little frozen layer toward the bottom of each step causes the crunch. Having my hearing aids turned up as high as they’ll go to try and not miss any sounds. Walking up the hill and easing into the cluster of White Fir, edging into the limbs laden with about five to six inches of powdery snow. Gently reaching out with my hand to give them a little tap. To clear the snow so I can look into the shadows and darkness beneath snow laden trees, hoping to see that big buck laying there looking at me, not this time. Walking further I come into a little clearing and standing in the edge of the trees I see big and small trees being gently teased by the wind. The ground cover bent under the weight of the snow creating a gentle rolling at the surface of the snow. The wind is stirring the limbs of the trees causing the powder now to sift off into the air below only to be picked up and highlighted by the sun. Looking like a million little tiny diamonds showing the spectrums of light in each one. My own little show, I watch as nature struts her stuff and how beautiful she is. Seeing now, not looking, seeing and hearing, not listening but hearing as best I can. Suddenly I realize what a wonderful place to be today and getting paid for it. A shrill whistle pierces the air, I turn and look up to see a pair of Bald Eagles coming down the ridge. Spreading their wings as they come to land about seventy feet away or so. Everything stops; they seem very content to return the stare as I stood there. Ten, maybe fifteen minutes I didn’t move. Then silently the female with her narrow and long wings just dropped of the limb only to start climbing instantly in the wind. The smaller male then gave a little jump and spread his short wide wings to gather the air, coming almost straight at me he turns to the south and disappears into the tall timber. I didn’t see them again the whole day. Heading up the ridge and around to the east side of the ridge just bout town it’s like a dream of some sort. Falling snow stings at my face and it feels wonderful. This time I look to the sky and simply said in my mind, thank-you for this day and the heightened awareness I was feeling. Making a quick trip back to the house after that to get the camera that I’d forgotten. Hoping on my return to the mountain I’d still feel the same as before. I wasn’t let down, the beauty, scents of the woods were intoxicating, I let it just full my brain. After getting back up the hill where I had stopped to head to the house. Settling in next to a pitch stump I got out my little hatchet and whittled a few small pieces off and built me a little get your fingers warm fire. The pitch burned hot with black smoke that smelled of the pitch. The smoke swirled around into my eyes and into my nose. That was great, just knelt there in the smoke enjoying. This was about the time I realized I wasn’t looking for deer anymore. Just being in the woods caused a peacefulness I believe one seldom truly feels. Looking into the trees something catches my eyes. Just watching, a Great Gray owl lands only yards from me. Big yellowish brown eyes study me, seeming to say who are you and what are you doing her? The big bird then takes off and you know what, no sound. The big wings pumping in the air, turning and tilting like a dance he disappears into the timber. Finding another pitch stump, carving off some pieces to build another little fire. This time I’m in a fort some kids have made. Beams made of small trees kind of like a framed hourglass. Then they weaved fir limbs back and forth with three open sides. I stayed there a long time, just sitting and watching the fire, saying to someone, thank-you over and over. Sitting almost motionless, letting the little fire go out. Movement catches my eye again. Next to me are the little tweet birds, their little heads bobbing from side to side and up and down. When you’re that close, they truly are pretty. Moving out to where I can see a large hillside below and there is good cover here. I build another little stay warm fire and sit. Seems like I’d been up there for hours and hours with al that I saw and felt. Cloudy now, snowing hard and with the wind really picking up. Things look Grey now with the hint of a storm. The wind is causing the temperature to drop very fast now. Then, movement, legs, lots of legs. Here comes the deer, I stand and walk to the tree I had picked to use as a rest. I lean to the task, getting ready to bag that big deer. Hunting again after a day of wonders. The critter steps into and out of view, then another, something like this, cow, calf, calf, rag horn bull, cow, cow, calf, calf, cow calf, cow and calf. Twelve Elk, wow, then I turned my head and said out LOUD, DID YOU SEE THAT??? No one was there, thought I lost my mind. Walked back to the fire, that is just about out. More legs, running to the tree again thinking this time it will be deer, no, cow, calf, calf. Three more and that makes fifteen. I wait for a while this time before returning to the fire. Thinking of how the fifteen head single filed in and out of my scope. This is a sight people rarely see. Close to dark now and getting very cold I snuff the little fire and head out. Realizing now, that at no given point during this day was I alone. If I could have heard his voice answering my question, did you see that? I wonder if God was enjoying the outdoors with me or did he just enjoy me, amazed at how I enjoyed this day. There is no fiction in this story. Nothing made up. This day I spend with God, Jesus and Mother Earth. What a day I had, one I will not forget. One more time, I say thank-you Jesus. Thank-you Rick for listening to me and saying, you should write this down so others may enjoy it also. Jesus, thank you for all you have given. Have a blessed day. By the way, I forgot I had the camera. Written by Barbie, Road Captain for the Mountain Tribe MC. Also known as Rod Sala.
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