So, today was beautiful. Absolutely spectacular. It was sunny, 55 degrees, truly wonderful. Everything was sweet and pure and right. Except it’s not even March. It’s still February. I guess no one told the thermometer. Yesterday, I skied. Not epic powdery snow, but pretty damn good snow considering we’re at 55% of our usual snowpack here in western Montana. The snow that had somehow fallen at the pass the day or two before had softened just enough to allow for pretty sweet turns. Sweet enough for seconds, and Aaron and I hiked back up the pitch for our fill. I’ve been out on my skies – either cross-country or backcountry – pretty much twice a week this winter. Not the awesomest statistic, I’ll admit; but we haven’t had snow since sometime mid-January. Avalanche conditions have been really scary, big slides all over the state, and it’s been between 35 and 45 the entire month of February. So, suffice it to say, not many Missoulians are getting a good hundred days in this year.
Today with the sun and the warmth, skiing just seemed odd. So, like pretty much everyone in town, I went for a hike. The path was icy and shaded and seemed intent on sending you down the slope towards the creek. But it was just so nice to be outside, sweating in a t-shirt.
Then, still suffering from a winter’s long Vitamin-D deficiency, I rode. I slapped the panniers on the townie, and scooted a few miles down the river trail to the local supermarket. It was sweet. I must have passed a hundred smiling people on the trail. As I pedalled back towards the house, singing The Shins and smiling right back, I looked out at the river that runs through town. There, standing in shorts and a light weight t- shirt paddled a stocky bald guy on a stand up paddle board. He was throwing an old rubber ball up stream and paddling towards it, slicing through the current, a little game of fetch I guess. I stared, unbelieving for a moment, and then almost ran over someone walking down the path. Two quick swerves later, I glanced to the right, away from the river, at the small park that abuts that particular section. And what did I see? College girls sunbathing? Bearded hippies throwing a frisbee? Dogs chasing dogs? Good guesses all, but wrong. No, in fact, I saw three good sized goats wearing collars and one man snapping their picture while holding three color coordinated leashes. They were eating a spruce tree. Pretty much right in town. Wearing collars.
I guess it’s just been that kind of winter.