It was cool this morning when I walked the dogs down by the creek. Cool enough for a fleece, cool enough to fire the engine in anticipation of another season.
On this, the last best month of summer, I find my thoughts drifting. Drifting to the next month, the best shortest month of the year. Screw February. February needs to be short. September needs to be twice as long.
I walk these mornings with steaming mug in one hand and watch the herd swing out into yellowing grass and I pause at the bridge over the crick and peer into clear water for little brown trout scattering from shadow. I walk out and talk to the horses and the dogs dig mice and point sparrows and then I walk back to the house and go to work. But my thoughts drift again.
Drift to elk bugling from black timber. Drift to blues rising before the gun, thundering from chokecherry and alder. Drift to grasshoppers–real and imitation–bobbing on current, right next to the bank. Drift to perfect precision cast, drift to the list of things to do yet, before that bright day on the first of the shortest best month of the year.
Most of my winter’s firewood is still up in the hills, baking in August heat, waiting to be felled and blocked and hefted into the old F250. Most of my fishing is here in these few wilting weeks of the best month of summer. Why, I ask myself, do I wait to get firewood in August? Panic sets in and I run to the hills in the evenings with a chainsaw. Why didn’t I do this in June? It was raining then, I guess. So I sweat through it, itchy with wood chip and bug bite. Sweat now while I must, for in only a few weeks, there cannot be work to do when a shotgun needs exercise.
During my lunch hour now, I shoot my bow. A dozen shots. Then I go back inside to the computer. In the mornings, after the walk, I unload last night’s firewood haul before the sitting at the computer for the day. During the day, I take breaks and unload some more and by quitting time, the old truck is empty and I can drive up to the mountains and haul out another load. Repeat. Routines.
Tonight, I’ll take an evening off and float a stretch of the river with a good friend and a box of hoppers. The imitation kind, not the Nick Adams tobacco-juice spitting kind.
Then it will come again, the panic of a coming season and the need to be out in the woods or on the open flanks of Montana autumn with a shotgun or a bow or a rifle or a fly rod instead of up in the woods with a chainsaw and some bar oil. The goal is to have it all in, all up in the woodshed before that shining day. It is a sin of the lowest order to be working in the woods when the dogs are stuck in the kennel and the season is open, I think. Do it in August, even if that means missing some fishing. Do it now before September because when that month comes, you need to go. Do it now. These last weeks of a good summer, dwindling and too short in themselves. I waft between get-here-already and shit-not-yet.
Such it is.