Some of you may be wondering what happened to our weekly posts and the truth be told is we have been enjoying the most amazing Fall weather. I can’t remember when the last time we saw such a beautiful, warm, completely awesome Fall in Jackson Hole. Weekends at the lakes with our kids, people still riding their bikes around town and on the trails and more tourists seemed to hang around longer than in years past. Simply a very nice surprise for those of us living in the Yellowstone Basin.
But as we all know the winds of change come quickly when mother nature decides that it is time. One of most unusual things I noticed this fall was the complete lack of snow on the Tetons. It seems that there is always snow somewhere on these majestic peaks but this fall snow was almost devoid of this precious white commodity.
One of the side effects of this wonderful warm weather was the total lack of water that we saw this summer. Jackson narrowly escaped one of the worst fire seasons on record and because of the heroic efforts of so many firemen and state and federal assets Jackson narrowly escape what could have been a tragedy. So with our rivers and streams down and our open spaces brown with thirst this warm fall season left many of the true locals lacking the very basic things they need to survive the upcoming winter. We saw a return of the Bison to the area north of town and it was clear to me that this past spring and summer was good to these herds as their young were everywhere. But the lack of tall grass like we saw last year seems to be on the thin side and so we ponder how they will fair this winter.
One clear sign that pickings are thin were the numerous bears we saw this fall all looking for something to eat. On the Moose Wilson road the Hawthorne bushes that are usually packed with life giving berries simply did not seem to materialize. The lack of water this summer showed clearly how devastating this could be when it came time for these animals to find food in preparation for winter. We watched bears climbing trees and pulling empty berry branches to their mouths eating what ever they could get their paws on (literally).
Another event that fall brings is the beginning of the hunting season. People are pulling permits for Elk, Bear, Antelope, Wolves (new this year), Bison and even birds. Especially for the elk, fall brings the double hazard of foraging for food while hiding from hunters doing the same. Small groups which to me look like little families run for cover after coming out of hiding for a well deserved drink and then it is quickly up the hill side to the safety of the trees. Although I enjoy a good elk steak I enjoy even more seeing these beautiful animals in the wild. Yes Jackson Hole and the surround area is a magical place to live. And with each change in the seasons you definitely know what time of the year it is.
My worry this year is that because of the amazing summer and warm fall weather we have enjoyed, this winter may bring a true struggle for life for all that inhabit the great Yellowstone Basin. Especially for the young, this first winter for them will be the test of how strong they are. Food is scarce and they need these calories to make it through the winter.
As of now they look strong to me, and I am sure the Great Spirit will lift her hand to comfort them and bring them through what is about to come. I leave you with a Native American Flute Song that shares with you a message of peace and hope. Written and produced by Nakoa Heavyrunner, Assiniboine Native American Music Artist, The Honoring is presented first in song, then by Native American Flute, then English and finally one more time in Northern Cree. We too wish all of you peace and good life this winter.
Click to Play “the Honoring”