Kvelve's Comments: It was quite a week!
It was quite a week!
Saw a bear, watched a 4-point (that’s four points on each side not the tinhorn way of counting all the points and adding them up) in a nose-to-nose standoff with a neighbor’s dog and like most of Sanders County and the rest of the country, I’m hung over.
Hung over as in recovering from all the pre-election nonsense. Can we now have a period of a year without political ads that are nastier than the scowl on Nancy’s face?
Oh yeah, and I interviewed a Grizz and shoveled 18 inches of snow…in October.
Allow me to explain.
First the snow. like most residents in this area, I often gripe about the weather forecasters/talking heads on TV. But damn, they were spot on this time.
Last Friday afternoon I was watching the football game at Plains High School as the first of the flakes started falling and piling up. By game’s end, I was reaching for the four-wheel drive switch in the cab of my trusty Dodge Ram.
With lots to write from earlier in the week, I was holed up here in my home “office” not realizing how much was coming down. When I took a quick break between stories and walked onto my porch there was a good eight inches on the railing and it was snowing hard.
This, I remember thinking, was like the time I was a student at Montana’s only real university, MSU, and we were all gathered in my dorm room for a most likely illegal poker game. Earlier that day my buddies and I had been playing Bobcat street basketball in 70 degree weather on a court across the street from Mullan Hall.
During a lull in the poker game, or maybe it was a “deal me out” moment realizing my pizza and beer money was nearly gone, I opened the curtain to my dorm room.
That balmy April day had given way to 32 degrees and almost three feet of snow. We were all stunned and amazed. OK, maybe we were beered up and surprised.
Back to this year, it continued to pile up all night and I was already wondering when they would reschedule the afternoon game I was planning on watching in Hot Springs.
But about 11 a.m., the skies parted, the snow quit and the heroes on the snowplows had pretty much cleared the main roads. The game in Hot Springs, I found out, was indeed still on.
I watched that game, an absolute thriller, in partly sunny skies but bone-chilling cold. On my way home I couldn’t wait to feel the warmth of my humble abode as I opened the door into the heat.
AOC is a moron, I kept thinking to myself. I’ve got your global warming right here.
Nope…something was amiss. Checked the thermostat and it said 51 degrees. Turned the thermostat up and waited for the tell-tale clicking sound that always indicates heat is on the way.
Pilot light was out. Not just out, but out as in not getting any propane. It’s still out and it’s Friday as I write this column. Apparently I was not the only one with furnace issues who needs new parts that no one around here has.
Fortunately, Mother Nature bailed me out a little. Back to more seasonable weather and glad I bought those blankets I didn’t think I’d ever need.
By Tuesday, it was almost fall-like again. I stepped out for my morning coffee ritual and it wasn’t too bad temperature wise. Of course, for the past four days I had been doing my best impression of the frozen pork chops in my freezer so I tried not to get too giddy.
Wednesday I had an appointment for an interview with Grizz, which you can read in this edition. He is an amazing guy who’s been off the grid way before off the grid was chic.
But before leaving for that interview, I heard the dog barking. The neighbor’s pit bull mix was going crazy in a faceoff with that 4-point buck. The buck pawed the ground and lunged at the dog, causing the dog to high tail it out of there. Did I mention there was a six-foot chain link fence between the two of them?
If not for the fence, I suspect folks would be calling in about a big buck wandering the streets of Plains with a dog impaled on its wrack.
While following Grizz up the mountainside later that day, there were deer everywhere, something you’d expect in Montana. But Grizz’s pickup truck came to a skidding halt, with me sliding up behind in Big Red, my Dodge.
There, scampering across the snow-packed road was a large bear. I thought they would be hibernating by now but the early snow know doubt threw a wrench in their lives too.
Later that day, on my way to meet with some friends in Paradise (don’t that sound good? A meeting in Paradise!), I saw a capper to my whole wild week.
Standing on one side of a fence on a large open space along Highway 200 was a herd of about 30 bighorn sheep. On the other side of the fence was an even bigger group of I would guess 70 bighorns.
The bigger group was in the process of joining the smaller group on the mountain side of the field. In the process, there looked to be a wave of bighorns, kinda like a rolling river, in mid-fencing jumping action.
Now I’m from Montana as many of you know. But I lived in the big cities of the left coast for many years before coming to my senses and moving home.
As I recounted my experiences of the past four days, I couldn’t help but smile.
Sure, it was cold, I hope to regain feeling in my fingers and toes any day now.
But what these eyes beheld over that amazing span was the reason I moved back home.
In Seattle, I would be writing about a wave of looters hoping over a broken storefront window.
Chuck Kvelve Bandel is a reporter for the Mineral Independent and Clark Fork Valley Press. Look for his “Kvelve’s Comments” column weekly.