I was cycling home from a Rotary meeting at Wells Gray Inn early one September morning. To avoid schoolbuses I decided to brave the newer, noisier, ever-busy Highway 5 rather than using the Old Highway to reach Sunshine Valley.
A very young deer had stopped at the edge of the road just ahead of me. I stopped and other traffic slowed down. It retreated down the bank and rejoined an equally young sibling and their mother. I cycled on by – as traffic, no longer able to see the threesome, now sped past.
“Go back into the bush,” I willed them. Stopping to look back, I watched her “shepherd” those two young’uns back into the trees – and safety.
High wire act
Later in the fall, a squirrel, carrying food, ran along a high wire across Ogden Road as I drove beneath it. Perhaps it thought I had missed observing its cleverness the first time, so it repeated the act a few days later when I reappeared in the car.
We don’t always have to leave home to see this high-wire act, however, as we can watch John’s “own” squirrels run back and forth from our house to the garage on the connecting power line. They never miss a step.
Returning from a Kootenays visit, we’d been unsuccessful in connecting with our Trail buddies, so we took a circuitous route home through Keremeos instead.
We tried phoning ahead but despite only the answering machine being at home when we called our friends there, we kept driving towards their place convinced we would see them.
Indeed we did, pulling into their driveway just moments after they returned from wherever.
“Stay for tea!” they urged. “Stay for dinner; one of our sons and his family are joining us. (five of them) Stay over!”
We did all of the above and this son remembered me. Why wouldn’t he? I always arrived unexpectedly and was swooped up into the family activities automatically.
“Was it your sleeping bag I had when we canoed across Okanagan Lake and camped on the other side?”
He grinned and thought it might have been!
His dad was able to answer a couple of different questions. While we were driving down from the Blueberry Paulsen summit, John, my usual font of all important knowledge, was sleeping.
When he emerged from his snooze, I described the critter I had seen perched on the cement barrier beside the road, but for once he wasn’t sure. Soon after that, we’d also seen the flock of Rocky Mountain sheep as we approached Grand Forks. Although they were nibbling the emerging green forage, they looked as if they’d had a really tough winter.
Our friend filled in the blanks: I had seen a yellow-bellied marmot. Marmots, I learned from him, are also known as woodchucks and groundhogs. No wonder we get confused!
Again from this knowledgeable man of the house, we found out that a mite had invaded the ragged flock of sheep, leaving them much the worse for wear. We hoped spring would provide them with the necessary tonic.
Looking for mountain goats
Usually, at least once per trip, we see mountain goats between Princeton and Keremeos, or around the town itself.
Nothing so far: “Look up at the rocks as you go through Olalla on your way to Penticton,” this clever man said.
Sure enough, just above us – a daddy stood in classic pose, while some mamas and pure white kids moved around on the rocky hillside, as we drove through that small community.
Sometimes you can be really lucky!