As February comes to a close, and March is just around the corner, Montana turns its thoughts and desires to spring. Mostly it is just thoughts right now, for winter’s chill and new snow are still on the menu and many of us are still hoping for some of that “white gold” our mountains and forests need so badly. But spring is on our mind none the less, and the first buttercups and returning birds are telling us that the winter is on its way out. The first chipmunks have started to appear and it reminds me of one fine spring day a few years back when I spent some time out in our backyard with my camera and these fine little “people”. They were out in great numbers making the most of the sun and warm weather. The older ones were scurrying about, some times in groups, while the babies, cautious only of their own less then skilled and unfamiliar agility, explored the world in wonder. One in particular, feared nothing and was as curious of me as I was fascinated by him. He climbed over, behind and around the large rocks that make up the cliff-like wall that holds the hillside at bay from our house and makes a backdrop for our pond and waterfall. Each step was cautious and planned as he tested what his new little body could do. No fear seemed to enter his thoughts or actions, just fascination and wonder as he made his way up a vertical face of a rock. Then he stopped to see just what he had accomplished, and a moment later, he was on to see what else about himself and his world was waiting to be discovered. These tiny creatures are innocence at it purest form, and their simple but beautiful lives are undeniable proof that we humans must live with nature and share in its splendor, not just use it for our own.
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