After two days of hiking in the Tetons under sunny skies, my 16-year-old daughter and I left Wyoming just in time last week as a storm blew in, scattering the last of the golden leaves and changing the colorful landscape into a black-and-gray ink sketch. Although our mother-daughter excursion was a delight, we were both a bit tired from all of the fresh air and exercise, not to mention the continual loud banter on our hikes to keep the bears in the “hood” aware of our presence:
“HEY, MOM, IT LOOKS LIKE A BEAR SHREDDED THAT LOG! DO YOU THINK THERE ARE TERMITES?”
“I DON”T KNOW, HONEY! LET’S KEEP MOVING AND NOT TAKE A CLOSER LOOK!”
You get the idea. That’s how it went for two days.
During the car ride home, it was unusually quiet, except for the “La La Land” songs flowing from the stereo speakers and the wind whistling outside as I fought to control the steering wheel. “Are you OK?” I periodically asked my daughter, not entirely comfortable with the silence. “Of course,” she’d reply. “That’s the third time you’ve asked.”
“That’s the fourth time.”
“OK, that’s the fifth.”
Then she’d smile, hug her legs close to her in the passenger’s seat, shut her eyes and lose herself to “City of Stars” for the 200th time, oblivious to the crosswinds battering our Subaru.
Early on in our six-hour journey, though, something happened that filled us both with wonder.
As we approached Idaho’s Palisades Dam and reservoir, I spotted an osprey nest, high atop a platform on a power pole, overlooking the water. “Look at that nest! It’s huge!” I exclaimed, jostling my daughter out of her reverie.
“Is it an eagle’s nest?” she asked. “It sure looks like one.”
“No, I believe it’s an osprey nest. Keep your eyes open and maybe you’ll see a couple of them diving into the water to catch fish.”
“Really? Wow!” Suddenly, she was awake, scanning the skies. “Look, there’s another nest!”
Sure enough, another large osprey nest was stacked on top of another power pole platform. “They must not care if they get electrocuted,” my daughter said, smiling. “Maybe it’s warmer to build a nest there.”
Half a mile up the road, we suddenly saw two more enormous nests on top of power poles, and then another.
“Five osprey nests!” said my daughter. “Amazing!”
“No, six!” I responded, pointing out another.
“No, seven!” she quickly replied.
Then eight. Then nine. Then 10, and finally, 11.
Eleven nests in a five-mile stretch, followed on cue by a lone osprey, swooping across the highway then hovering briefly above the water before plunging in, feet first, for breakfast.
“Cool!” we both exclaimed simultaneously.
“Jinx! You owe me some gummy bears,” I told my daughter. “Not if I’m asleep,” she said, curling up her legs again. “Wake me when it’s time to stop for lunch.” Then she closed her eyes and drifted away to Emma Stone singing “The Fools Who Dream.”
A mother and daughter bonding moment on Highway 189 in an autumn headwind.
Life is good. ☺️🍁🍃🍂