It’s Something to Do
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
Last spring, if you recall, we landed in Pescadero, Mexico, and did absolutely nothing for a week while living in a casita on the beach, sleeping under a palapa roof, the senses pounded into gelatinous submission by a thundering Pacific surf.
Had in mind doing something like that again in April, on the Gulf side, then events intervened (better now, thanks for the cards and letters). That barefoot destination, though, still beckons. It’s a Yucatan Island with streets of sand, no cars—just golf carts, teeming water fowl, thatched roofs, and a cafe or two. But the location is not the message.
This is the message.
Now that the weather is warm, it’s a good time to sense the outdoors, let it have its way with you—the feel of the air after a good hard rain, the smell of pine baking in dry heat, and it’s at this time of year that we vow to get out and explore nature while we can, knowing it’s unforgivable to remain inside.
In the Livingston, Bozeman, Big Timber, Gardiner, Big Sky area and so forth, we are blessed with opportunities to appreciate the marvels of the natural world as others are not (think Oakland)—getting out there on a trail that winds its way into the wilderness, or picnicking along the Yellowstone, Madison or Boulder. If you become extremely busy in your work, drained of the verve that otherwise animates your life, this is the way to replenish your spirit. And while the notion seems obvious, we avail ourselves too seldom of that which lies just beyond our doorstep. As words on a page, the suggestion may not reveal its potential. Once you’re there, no words suffice.
Several easy destinations come to mind—Twin Lakes in the Crazies, others closer to town like Mallard’s Rest, or Lava Lake on the way to Big Sky. For greater expertise, or perhaps a tip that will direct you to undiscovered country, stop by Timber Trails in Livingston or the Gallatin Valley Land Trust in Bozeman.
Leave early and spend the whole day. Pack a few sandwiches. Forget about everything else. But your adventure need not be ambitious. You have our permission to do nothing. It’s an underrated skill, a truth that dawned upon me while sitting for the better part of an afternoon watching pelicans on the Madison, an experience most people in this country, in this world, have never had, and perhaps could never appreciate, not in the concrete and asphalt laden bowels of cities, and one requiring nothing but your presence and easy attention upon the settling of large white winged creatures on blue-green water that mirrors sky and hills.
A fly fisherman materialized that day, venturing out toward the birds and casting their way, because they had gathered near a hole behind a rock where he wanted to fish. He apologized for what might take place, driving off the birds, but people are nature too, and the pelicans merely spread their massive wings, took flight, and landed a stone’s throw down river.
Fun loving birds, they ride waves and thermals for amusement (not for survival, as some nerds insist), and we too rode the waves of those moments, those hours. With nothing to do but rest on the river bank, or piddle about in the shallows, we took in the air and sun, the whiteness of pelicans on dark water, the stark blue sky from which straggling mavericks lazily descend in floating spirals. Why is it lone birds land an hour after the flock has settled there? Had they fallen behind, lost their way—daydreaming like us on some other river bank? And how do they find their flock, navigating the wide continent? —They just know somehow.
That’s about as strenuous as it got (oh, the agitation), or ever needs to. Then down to Norris for a cold draft and a warm soak.
Ambition takes various forms.