27 June 2008

Summer in Butte Montana

It's summer when the cool, wet June rain and snow comes to an end. Clear blue skies, light from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., trout fishing, hiking, lots of festivals (National Folk Festival 11-13 July, Evel Knievel Days 26-27 July, An Ri Ra Irish Cultural Celebration 8-10 August)...

The salmonflies are coming off the Big Hole River this week, making for excellent fishing. I was on the river for a few hours mid-day yesterday. It was windy and hard to fish the big dryflies, but a weighted nymph worked very well for dredging up two big 'bows and one big brown trout, two big whitefish, and sundry other trout smaller than 16 inches. Have to confess I killed a few 12-14 inch trout for supper--I literally salivate while releasing fish, and I do try not to be a fish hog.

I KNEW I had to fish this week, given the common Buttian knowledge that it's salmon fly time on the Big Hole when the lilacs bloom on Park Street. Butte is a real lilac town, most older homes have bushes. The common pale flowers predominate:

But there is also a good sprinkling of white lilacs:

And (my favorite) the very deep purple variety:

The yard is bright with flax (Linum lewisii). Though a common wildflower, Shirley and Paul van der Veur brought them to us and because of its sheer beauty we encourage them to take over some of the borders of the yard:

My hike from Walkerville down to Tech takes longer and longer as there are more critters and flowers to appreciate along the way. It's lovely to see an ecosystem in recovery. I heard a red fox barking at me this morning, but I could not locate her for a photo. The violet-green swallow is well habituated to RTD and I passing closely by:

The lupines (Lupinus sp.; some call them "bluebonnets") are blooming:

The mountain ash (Sorbus scopulina) trees are also blooming:

As is the wild buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.):

Saving the best for last, the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) have lots of buds this year:

And I saw the first bloom this morning:

Welcome, summer!

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