Her return in the fall of 1994 brought unexpected visitors. She appeared again with her older brother, who only stayed for a few days each fall and then left to join his friends who roamed the lower slopes together for a short period of time during this season. Our son, Dallas was home from college for a brief time, and watching me with her brother was always of great concern for Dallas. Her brother was now very large, and very masculine, but the concern was for naught, as he had kind eyes. Fear of him never entered my mind as I was familiar with his expressions, and could discern his willingness to greet me, even for a few days. Unlike Mama Cass, and despite his stature, he always reached his huge head out towards me to rub noses; then walked proudly away. It was this gesture that has remained with me all of these years.
She had brought other friends with her, and the yard was filled with them and their young. She and her brother were the only two who remained from the original family, and the others showed no signs of wanting any human contact. They did not scatter when I walked into the yard to be with her, but they had an air of indifference, and always walked away slowly when I approached. Our mutual attachment had not changed, and I respected the independence of the others, and was pleased that she was with her own kind and not alone.
She was 3 years old now, and had filled out from the rich summer that had surfaced and bloomed after the huge snow, producing ample food. Our days together were well spent, and once again the peacefulness had returned to our small world, as we watched her lead her new friends to the hillside where they rested every afternoon, overlooking our pasture, in the warm sunlight.
In November while working on a project in our garage, we heard a loud bellow, unlike the scream that had penetrated the silence when her mother died, however significant enough to send us running to the garage door to assure ourselves that everyone was safe. Having lived with their silent nature for so long, we were aware that any sound meant distress or pain. There, next to the house we witnessed what few had ever seen (according to our doctor). She had found a mate and the process was far from quiet. My husband and I looked at each other in awe, and quickly returned to the garage and closed the door.
The time was approaching for her to leave. I had done my homework, and learned that her baby would be born sometime in May. I was as excited as a soon-to-be grandmother, and looked forward to holding her offspring in my arms. Walking beside her down the driveway, I could see movement in her growing belly. I stopped and she looked at me, tilting her head. I placed my hand on her stomach and felt the shifting activity. A magnificent new life would soon be born, and I wished that I could be there to see it.
Our parting that spring was a time honored pattern, just as the springs before had been, only this time I watched her go from the porch steps. She looked back once, and disappeared into the forest with her friends.
A feeling of anticipation overcame me, and looking out at the melting snow, I breathed in the scent of the pines, knowing that I had a beautiful summer to fill my days. Double rainbows, and the flowers that I loved on the tops of the mountains that we climbed in our little red jeep. The roaring rivers as they tumbled over the rocks, and the mist that sprayed my face when I stood close to the breathtaking waterfalls. There were designs to do for my work, time to be spent with my family, and the ever present love for this place called Southwest Colorado.
To be continued...........