Sunday, March 22, 2009
Ninepipe and the Dancing Boy
On Saturday (after a visit to the vet for Miss Madeleine, who put up a valiant fight against getting in her carrier), we went to Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge on the Flathead Indian Reservation in the beautiful Mission Valley to do some "ducking". There was a fair amount of ice still on the ponds and the reservoir, but we saw a good smattering of ducks, including pintail, redhead and goldeneye, as well as Canada geese, and a swan which flew before we could identify which kind it was. (They were all too far away to get any pictures of, as I don't have a camera adapter for our spotting scope.)
But as much as I was looking forward to the ducking, the real treat was the unexpected harbingers of Spring that we spotted - red-winged blackbirds, tree swallows and - my favorite - western meadowlarks. I hadn't realized they were back yet!
We also had our fair share of raptors - bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, and a terrific look at an immature rough-legged hawk.
As we passed through the town of Arlee, I snapped a photo of the Dancing Boy in the mountains. Although there wasn't quite enough snow to make it really stand out, the image was still pretty clear. I believe the legend says that he killed a monster that had been terrifying his tribe. The monster's heart is on the next mountain over, but I wasn't at a good enough angle to get a picture of that.
A co-worker first told me about the Dancing Boy and I nodded and smiled, expecting that this was one of those things that you had to really squint and use a lot of your imagination to see and usually you end up saying you see it, but you really don't. So when I finally got to Arlee and saw it for the first time, I was blown away by how clear the image was, down to the boy's leggings and the knife hanging off his belt. His arms are raised and he is probably holding ceremonial dance items like a fan. Can you see it?