Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lake 10, Military 3

I'd been dreading the noise level of this weekend even more than the 4th of July. It was time for an air show, another summer intrusion I hadn't had to put up with for the past four years. Fortunately, we're winding up a week's worth of fog and low overcast so most of the planes were grounded. A double blessing along with the highs in the 60s compared to the long stretches of mid 80s I got used to in Mammoth. Although I see that highs there the past few days have been in the 40s and 50s, and I saw a snowman on the Mt Washburn cam a couple days ago.

I heard the person doing the winter hiring at Yellowstone called one of my former bosses this week to ask about me, so there's still hope for December. I really need to get back there and try to generate a little enthusiasm. Here I'm on too much of an even keel, filling my time with many books and music (today I watched The Last Waltz and was struck by how young everyone looked and how many were now dead) and old tv shows to keep my mind distracted from the humbling emotional aches and physical pains of getting older and waiting to be dead instead of living. If I had unlimited funds, that might be more tolerable, but I'd rather keep trying to enjoy life while I'm still able. 

A couple days ago I was searching for new Yellowstone blogs and found a very open gutsy post about fear from someone working there last December. There was an aspect about her returning to Yellowstone which I could appreciate. I got woken up by a 12:30 AM phone call yesterday, and my first thought was that someone from Yellowstone had gotten drunk and was calling me. I didn't recognize the area code so I ignored it til morning in favor of imagining how the call might have gone if I'd been right. Turned out to be a wrong number.

As for those books, my latest recommendation is the forthcoming novel Station Eleven, a post-flu apocalypse tale which I decided reminded me of Ray Bradbury and the HBO series Carnivale. I also just finished rereading City of Pearl which I mentioned at the end of this post seven years ago--still enjoyed it just as much. Next up, Make it a Green Peace!: The Rise of Countercultural Environmentalism, which I got via interlibrary loan, one of the perks of civilization. 

Typed while listening to The Complete Norman Granz Jam Sessions, classic jazz from a few years before I was born. Now turned off to appreciate a thunderstorm, a much better noise than jets.               

Saturday, August 2, 2014

We have all been here before

When I was in Yellowstone looking for a place to live here, I found a photo on the internet of the house where I'm living now. There were some big trees in the front and the house was a dark green--along with the location and cheap price, that's why I took this apartment sight unseen. The two trees closest to the house were cut down this week because white siding is replacing the green. I couldn't see them from my window and thought they were just being trimmed until I walked out and they were gone. I think there was a crow's nest in one of those trees.

I was reminded of another apartment I had here with a small wild patch across the alley which got attacked one day by the electric company clearing wires. And the dorm I lived in at Yellowstone was a great worn out looking place which looked very western and funky until that got sided and looked like all the other bland dorms.  As always, change is bad and progress sucks.

A couple streets away, a main road is going to get torn up with hundreds of old trees along the way destroyed. Some of the folks who live there have started putting up signs and attaching clothes in the shape of people to the trees. Trees matter to people in Duluth, from the proposed golf course battle when I first moved here, to the harbor airport/state natural area pine forest battle which went on for years. 

I haven't gotten the official No yet but it's fairly certain that I won't be getting a job at Old Faithful this winter. It was always an extreme long shot in my case, but a friend who was sure he was going to get a job didn't either, and the person who was going to be his boss didn't even get that job. Yellowstone is a great place, but as we always used to say, employment there always involves a goat and a rope.

I know I'll be able to get something there next summer, and that application is only a few months away. But the longer I'm away, the easier it gets to not go back. I'm a little less fanatical about checking related websites, and a little more comfortable spending all my time in civilization not seeing wildlife. And as I get older and body parts keep weakening, the harder it gets to want to carry heavy bags though a couple days of buses and hotels, and put up with shared rooms and prescribed menus, and the more appealing it sounds to just sit in my room reading and spending hours on the computer. 

Fortunately, then I'll get an email from my ex-roommate with hundreds of photos of otters leaning into each other in a perfect pose at Trout Lake, and mountain goats on the Bunsen Peak trail, and a stashed fawn he almost stepped on near the Yellowstone River while mom was away, and I know that I need that in my life as long as it's at all possible.

In the meantime, I'll probably start looking for another part time job. I wouldn't be broke before Yellowstone next summer, but social security is still a few years away and I can handle working more hours than I have been for the past few months.      

It's been a wild summer out in the Rockies parks, with deaths from falling in Grand Teton, drowning in Glacier, a falling tree in Yellowstone, and lightning strikes in Rocky Mountain. In Glacier, a Texan shot a bear, and there was a grizzly/human encounter on a cliffside trail. From the description in that article, I never would have been hiking that trail anyway with my fear of heights, but if I had been there I probably would have been trying to squeeze by the bear rather than going down the cliff.

There was a beer festival in town last weekend which I was excited about when I first heard about it, but I don't drink in quantities that were ever going to give me my money's worth over a few hours so I wound up not going. Happily, my favorite brewery sent some people to spend a few days here making appearances at local bars and liquor stores and I was able to sample many of their beers I hadn't tasted before. I took advantage of related sales to stock up on a couple of their brews which get better as they age, Black Butte XXVI and Mirror Mirror.  

I was also happy I didn't buy a ticket for that festival because it turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer. The next day it was foggy and rainy with temperatures in the fifties. I have been enjoying the weather here this summer except for the occasional humidity. 

I made a rare trip to the mall recently and as I was walking around the outside of the building (to avoid walking inside the building), a gull made a couple close dives at my head--I didn't see any reason on the ground so there must be a nest on the roof. I was reminded of walking around the shore of one of the islands in Boston Harbor and having the same experience.

My boss took a vacation recently which included New England and when she told me about it, I felt a little regret about a place I'll never see again, but at least it's another place I've been before.