Silent Spring Revisited
Just south of Big Sky near Taylor's Fork camp ground is one of my favorite spots on the Gallatin River. Last Thursday I spent the evening on the riverbank where white cliffs line the banks of the east side of the Gallatin and soft green grass balks in the sun.
Even though I have a variety of favorite Gallatin River spots, this is one not far from the road yet peacefully projected by wild grasses and ants. Highway 191 can be seen from my spot, but when sitting on the banks I'm hidden from the road and therefore distraction of the steady stream of passersby.
As the days grow longer and the sun shines brighter I long to spend more time on the Gallatin, whether fishing, reading, meditating, or rafting; the summer waters call. This particular Thursday it was just me, a friend, and the stillness of the water rushing past. Above the rushing waters Cliff Swallows, who find their homes in the shaly crags of the white cliffs nearby, feasted 100 feet overhead on hatches the fish would never find beneath the chocolaty Gallatin surface. My thoughts turned to those birds and the importance of their survival. Spurred by discussion on bear hunting with my friend, nature permeates Big Sky life beyond my daily interaction and understanding of it. I can debate on end whether or not bears should be hunted or whether or not cliff-nesting swallows (who also find resting places in our homes, at times attacking the home-owner) should be extinguished for my own peace-seeking desires, but I do not disagree that this canyon and surrounding mountains belonged to the bears and swallows first. I also do not disagree that I have a duty to protect their home. Thus on that beautiful sunny Thursday my thoughts turned to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, an American literary work I had not read in years, but that stuck with me. Carson asks the reader to consider a spring where no birds chirped, no ants pestered picnickers, and certainly no bears roamed the Gallatin Canyon, a silent spring.
Spring digs its rays of sunshine into the soil of the green grass and calls out each morning these days in Big Sky. It is alive and well at all my favorite spots along the Gallatin, and requires my attention more and more with each passing season. As Carson said, "the physical form and the habits of the earth's vegetation and its animal life have been molded by the environment ... Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species-man-acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world."
Unbeknownst to me upon writing this blog, May 27 would have been Rachel Carson's 107th birthday. Life in Big Sky is full of these connections and coincidences that, perhaps, are not coincidences at all, but reminders of the wonderful natural life that surrounds me in Big Sky. Reminders to take time to sit by the Gallatin River (or on it or fishing it) and contemplate all that this Big Sky life has to offer. It's going to be an amazing spring and one that is not silent at all.
Photos: Anna Husted