The Big Melt

If you happen to live in a place where the season’s snowfall is measured in feet rather than inches, you don’t need me to say anything more.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.

ice-meltIf you, on the other hand, happen to be from the 80%+ of the world where a snow shovel is an accessory rather than a requirement, you’re scratching your head and wondering just what the hell “The Big Melt” means.

Ever had to jump across a gutter ankle-deep in water while the sun shone fiercely overhead?  Ever stepped into a mud patch only to risk losing your boots when you sank halfway to your knees?  Ever thought a stream looked placid and nice, only to find out that your naughty bits most definitely do not like being immersed in fresh snowmelt when you try to ford it?

Yeah, that is the Big Melt.  That is Yellowstone in March and April…

clean-clear-cold-drink-416528-jpgI may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: the greater Yellowstone ecosystem is the source for somewhere between 66% and 75% of the fresh water west of the Mississippi.  And I’m slogging through it all every time I go for a hike.*

*Err, sorry ‘bout that.  I’ll make sure to wear clean boots next time I go hiking.

There’s a reason why every single vehicle in Montana is a uniform shade of brown…


Like most people, I love Spring.  I love the fierce expression of life that explodes all around you.  I love the renewal and the hope.  I love the cute baby animals that are seemingly everywhere — from fawns to red dogs to cubs, kits and pups, all are equally adorable.  I love watching the grumpy, hungry bears start to shuffle around.  I love watching the bison and elk finally start to put on the weight they lost over the winter.  I love, even, the turbulent, troublesome, insane rivers and streams…

…but I hate the mud.  Hoo boy, do I hate the freaking mud!

Slipping and sliding…struggling to climb even the simplest hill…wondering if it would just be easier to buy new boots rather than scrape off your old ones…your new damned truck already wearing that Montana “look”…


Oh, did I mention the sunrises?

Look, you all know me by now.  I’m Grumpy Smurf.  I’m the guy who thinks Darth Vader was just an emo little wuss who didn’t know shit about the dark side.  I’m the guy who looks at the half-full glass and asks, “Who stole my fuckin’ water?!”

What I’m NOT is the guy to talk about to about unicorns and rainbows…

…until I am, of course.

I hide it — oh lord, do I hide it! — but half the reason I do my solo, off-trail hiking is so that I can find those special sights and places that make you feel…well…  Well, they do what any good writer wants to, they make you FEEL.

4e5a19352d6d6f5ac99d55c15ef41021I’ve watched wolf pups play, just as unselfconsciously crazy and fun-loving as human toddlers…

I’ve watched “teen-age” bears somersault down hillsides for no reason other than because they thought it looked fun

I’ve sat for hours and watched fox kits ambush the crap out of each other, rolling around with their brothers and sisters in endless play…

I’ve hiked for miles through brutal territory to find that one special waterfall that has a double-rainbow every single morning…Grandpa-Simpson

Yeah, I’m a grump.  I’m Grandpa Simpson.  On the outside.

But what about the inside?  On the inside…  Well, why the hell do you think I moved to freaking Yellowstone?!?

The one thing I’ve struggled with as a writer — what a lot of writers have struggled with, to be honest — is the right balance between the dark themes and images that are my writing playground with the hope and light that are such important parts of life.

The balance of the inconvenience of the Big Melt with the life that water brings…

No matter what, however, I still hate the fucking mud.

One thought on “The Big Melt

  1. Ann March 7, 2020 / 3:23 pm

    I love what you are seeing, Steve…❤️🥰


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