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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I’m a little concerned about Spring. Where is it? It’s 42 degrees this morning, and they’re forecasting a high of 50. Down at Scottsbluff, according to the radio, they have light snow. Still, I console myself with the thought that every cold day is another day without bugs.  

Talking of which, my veil has arrived from home. When I saw it in a little store in the Scottish Highlands (“Midge Veil: only £5.95”) I assumed it was a joke, a wee tourist souvenir, like the mosquito trap I bought years ago in Missouri. But that same day I spotted a seriously tough looking Scot cutting his grass in one. Suddenly the idea didn’t seem so crazy.

The hunters were out early again. 0430h or thereabouts, and I was almost persuaded to get up. But as I lay there thinking about it the clock somehow ticked its way around to six-thirty.

Today’s pictures should give some idea of the very different environments that this landscape creates. Yesterday I squirmed my way down a narrow ravine towards the river-bank, maybe a mile from here. Partway down, there’s a seep from the limestone which forms a slender little creek. Further on it’s joined by a second stream. That’s it in the photos - cascading down over the rocks, with a third picture of it entering the main river. Climbing to its source I came across what would almost qualify as a meadow. All around were tracks of deer, cattle, and something that’s either a lynx or a bob-cat. I’m wondering whether it might be worthwhile trying to hide out there at dawn or sundown, to see what’s about.

Our man ‘Lightning’ is about to depart, he tells me. When I called on him in his little room in the cattle-shed he said that Matt has had the okay from the hospital to resume normal work. Still, I should be seeing him again before too long. Mid-May he has a date with an angry bull at the Gordon rodeo.

I am enjoying Mari Sandoz’ novel The Tom-Walker, so far at least, rather more than any of her other novels. And I am slightly shocked by its content, considering it was published in 1947. We have rape, scenes in a bordello, a girl of seven offering sexual favours to her chums, and a hero who fears, much like old Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick, that the loss of a leg (in the civil war) may have unmanned him. Her writing is, to say the least, uncompromising.

I await more goodies in the mail. First my hiking poles – not that the country around here really requires them, but I need them to get me across the river, and they’re handy for cutting a way through undergrowth; secondly, the shortwave radio. But that’ll be a few days yet, I suspect. While I’m waiting I have my Guardian Weekly to keep me up to date with news back home. It’s a weekly digest of the more sober material from one of our quality papers, and a great comfort when you’re far from home.

NPR is getting mildly excited about the royal wedding. I have no idea why. For myself, I have no comment to make, at all.

Well, the sun has melted away the clouds. Time to climb that dusty trail, get this posted and then get on with the day.

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