Antelope Camp

November first.
Five AM, drinking hot water with a slice of lemon.
The fridge is now full of Lemons,
a recent Costco mission by my wife accomplished.
Last night was Halloween.
One went to a haunted house with her friend.
Another went with me to see family.
The eldest sitting on the bench at State in Helena.
Recalling this morn this season’s Antelope Camp.
My partner had just harvested a nice buck.
We celebrated in the camper over a meal.
His of the vegan variety.
Did you know you can make lasagna
w/o dairy or meat? It was not bad,
but I had tomato soup, onions and a chicken breast.
I was happy for my partner as other’s in the camp
had not been successful this season.
It was dark, rain turning to snow outside
after the meal.
A couple had built a campfire between our
two campers.
Loving campfires and being a good neighbor, I went
out to pet their little dog and visit with the unfamiliar.
“Congrats again,” I said to the lady.
Her other half having shot an antelope.
They were drinking Jagermeister and being
quite candid.
I decided to refrain, having had two
glasses of red.
“Where are you from?” I asked
“Vancouver, Washington,” the husband replied.
“Right outside of Portland, right?” I said.
“Yep.”
He had been a jack of all trades, Welder,
equipment operator, construction contractor.
His vision was now impaired from welding.
They had moved to the outskirts of Glacier,
managing a restaurant and doing construction
related jobs here and there.
“I don’t know if the drive over here
was worth it,”
the husband said over the crackling fire.
It’s a big loop from Kalispell to just outside of Billings.
They told a tragic story of their daughter having lost a baby,
its umbilical cord having become tied in a knot.
Carrying and birthing the deceased.
The daughter more recently, however, having had a healthy
child.
The county sherif drove through the grounds.
“Why did you move?”
I enquired in the drizzle,
petting the small dog.
“After his injury, we wanted to get out of the city,”
she said alluding to his sight impairment.
They had numerous kids, most now grown.
“What did you think of the Portland area?” I probed.
“Lots of crime and traffic,” he began, sipping from his glass.
“One of my friends had a person hop in his car while he was driving
and force him out of it. That was pretty much it for us,” he stated.
This of course goes on in all places, but it had a material
impact on this couple.
“We’re happy to be outside of the park in Montana,” she quipped.
“We recreate often, hiking, hunting and fishing.
The income decline was worth it,” she continued,
sitting in her chair,
face glowing above the flames.
Occasional patches of stars would surface between
the clouds overhead.
I could see my breath, and was wearing the day’s
still damp wool vest.
“I love Oregon, home of the Cascade Cream Puff,
Dungenuss crab, waterfowl and steelhead.
I like Washington as well, home of Chateau St. Michelle.
However, both only to visit,”
I silently thought to myself.

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