June 2021 - 46

WILD COUNTRY DISPATCH
The rains
of June
Story by Tom Reed | Illustration by L. Eslick
I
n the high country January has nothing
on June for cold, and on this wet, June
day every other raindrop is a snowflake
drifting from a pouting sky. But there
is no glowering here, for nothing is as warm
and pleasant as a popping fire and a dry sleeping
bag set to the sound of rain chatter on
canvas. It has been raining since early last
night. A thick, soaking rain that drenches
the lodgepole forest at our backs, blackens
their trunks and deepens their rich, piney
scent on a heavy air.
Back in the trees the horses stomp and
shake, blow and shiver. " You want another
cup? " I ask my old friend and my gloved hand
finds the blackened pot at the edge of the fire
and makes another round. Jed, our English
setter companion, has not stirred from his
warm nest at the back of the lean-to since
last night.
The cutthroat are up out of the big lake,
thick with eggs and milt, ready for the catching,
back again. Somewhere from up-meadow
comes the music of mule bells from another
camp. In the reflector oven next to the fire, the
bannock biscuits are just about ready.
If all you know is the West, then most of
what you know is dry. This applies to humor
46 | June 2021
and to the land in equal measures. One way to
determine a real Westerner, a native soul, is that
person never really complains about the rain
and means it. We always need the moisture.
June is the rain month in most of the West.
An old cowboy friend who recently passed
loved to quip, " More cowboys have froze to
death in June then ever did in January. "
Like all Westerners, I love rain. I love the
way an aspen grove sounds when every single
leaf is trembling and dripping and there's a
rhythmic, soft music to it. It's little wonder
an entire industry has jumped up that sells
meditation and sleep audio of rainfall. I love
the sound of rain on a plastic hat cover astride
a good mountain horse on a sloppy trail when
all you have to do is tuck your chin, turn up
the collar of your oilskin slicker and try to keep
your rein hand dry in its wet, leather glove.
I love the way the world sounds just before
a rain, a deep stillness like anticipation and
then it comes. At home, I love to hear the
sound of rain on my ranch house's metal roof.
In camp, I love the thrum of it on the tent,
be it canvas or nylon. And I love the sound
of rain after it is gone, the hello-the-world
rain song of the robin, the feel of sun soaking
your skin, the crystal golden shine of it on
wet slopes of lupine, paintbrush and heartleaf
arnica.
However, I have been known to curse the
timing of rain. It always seems to come when

June 2021

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