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A Montana Haven

Sunday, September 5, 2010

On our way to Yellowstone, we stopped at the home of friends outside Bozeman, Montana. It was a gray, rainy, cold day, but the birds and animals that flock around John and Durrae's didn't seem to mind. Their yard was a western wonderland for these Ohioans.

Let's just start with the view out the living room window.

and proceed to the lazuli bunting just outside the kitchen window screen.

Ah, but there was more to come. This little Richardson's ground squirrel (everyone in Montana calls them "gophers," even though they aren't...
charmed me with her muzzlepuff cleaning routine.
Kind of a shrinky prairie dog, they are pretty much everywhere in eastern Montana, running across the road, tails straight up in an exclamation point. When I first visited Montana as a 12-year-old, I wept for each one my sister's car hit. I cried a lot those first few days. And then realized that I didn't have tears enough for all the gophers with a death wish.

It was nice to see one close up, to see the sweet animal in what so many perceive as brainless video-game targets. I wish I understood what makes them decide to cross a deserted highway just as your car comes careening through at 75 mph.

There was much more to be enjoyed in John and Durrae's yard...


Now, "gophers" I know. Alberta is Canada's Montana and gophers outpopulate us 20-1. At least. They are considered a very unwanted pest to ranchers and farmers, but we DO have heaps and heaps of birds of prey - can't have one without the other here. And, although we do have gopher mega-cities, we don't have rats. SO, I guess I like 'em.

Hunter Thompson had an explanation for that death-wish. The life of a ground-squirrel has its longueurs: eat, sleep, scurry around a bush. So once they try road-running, the rush soon becomes something they can't live without. Then it's only a matter of time... Doesn't just apply to roadkill, of course.

Posted by Anonymous September 5, 2010 at 5:35 PM

Muzzle puffing? How cute. I wish my facial cleansing contained such a joyous sounding routine! I am sure that the ones that are crossing the road, do not expect a car careening at such a high rate of speed. I am sure they are only "trying to get to the other side", just like the jokes state!

Yes, Montanans insist on calling them gophers. If the correct name was used, then shooting them might not be so cavalier. We have them in our yard, safe from our ridiculous 75 mph speed limits.
By the way Julie, I hold you responsible for my new craving for a Canon G11. Planning to make the purchase this week. I keep going back to look at your early pictures with it.

In that last picture, she looks like she just walked in on the butler and the scullery maid getting it on in the broom closet or something. Shocked, shocked, I tell you! :D

Julie, do you know, squirrels in India have 3 long lines across their backs. There is a story according to which, King Ram, in the Indian mythology book Ramayana, moves his 3 fingers across the squirrel's back, in a caress. And leaves the marks. Since then, they have had them; so it seems.
I like the blue bird too. Are these pictures taken by you? They are very good.

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