A Moment on Coulee Creek

Ice crystals on Coulee Creek

While caught up in daily chores, listening to the endless chatter of my mind, I am stopped in my tracks. I wake from the trance of “getting things done” and become acutely aware of the moment. Usually it is nature that provides the reason to pause, admire, and be inspired. I live in close proximity to the natural world – the small inconveniences of poor cell service, inconsistent internet, and a grocery store over 45 miles away all become insignificant in comparison to the wonder of nature.

Earlier this morning, Bart and I walked to the cliff edge to look down on Coulee Creek. Seemingly from out of nowhere a golden eagle floated beneath us, soaring west toward the horizon. Moments later, a second eagle appeared, gliding effortlessly away from the sandstone cliffs a hundred feet above the earth.

Later, while taking Doc on his daily duck-hunting hike, I came upon a coyote. The coyote stood partly hidden behind sagebrush, stoic and alert. Doc’s soft curves and floppy ears appeared cartoonish in comparison to the sharp lines of the coyote’s muzzle and ears. When Doc caught scent of the coyote, he followed the trail towards the sagebrush. Doc, with nose to the ground, was oblivious to the wild dog that he was rapidly approaching. Doc came within twenty feet, before the coyote took off in a flash, retreating to a small knoll only fifty feet away. The coyote’s sudden movement finally got Doc’s attention. Doc stopped and watched the coyote, apparently mystified by this creature that he had surely smelled before and never came so close to touching. Doc hesitated, unsure of his next move. I called him back to me, and he seemed all too eager to get away from the mystery animal that was now barking in alarm at us. Its yips echoed in waves off the cliffs behind me. I stood frozen in place as the sound washed over me.

After a moment or two, the chill of five-degree air began to penetrate my jacket and gloves. Time to move on. Doc trotted on down the frozen creek, in pursuit of his usual pal, the duck. I followed Doc toward our cabin in the coulee. I was eager to get to my destination, and my mind began chattering with plans again. I would feed the horses, then stoke the fire and finish turning last summer’s tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. But before I could get too far ahead of myself, I lifted my head toward the cliff where earlier we had seen the eagle, and which now resonated with the call of the coyote. All around me were tangible reminders that where I was right now in this moment was the only place in this world to be.


Published by Heather Bilden

I live in Montana with my husband Bart. I enjoy working in the garden, taking care of the animals, and exploring the prairie with my dogs, my binoculars, and a reverence for the natural world.

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