Dave Simpson: And The Long Winter Season Begins

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "You know the party's over when the hummingbirds suddenly disappear..."

Dave Simpson

September 27, 20224 min read

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You know the party’s over when the hummingbirds suddenly disappear.

They know what’s coming. For several weeks now they’ve been on their way to Central America, where some guy like me has a bunch of feeders waiting for them.

(If you think capitalist human beings are the only creatures that battle over sustenance – even in abundant times – get a couple hummingbird feeders, and see how the meanest, fastest, most aggressive bird rules the roost, chasing off his fellow birds, even when there’s plenty for everyone. It’s not just us…)

Cabin Season in the mountains of Wyoming, at almost 10,000 feet, starts around Father’s Day, and is pretty much over on Labor Day. (A few years back, our Labor Day Picnic brought out the winter coats, and it was snowing on the summit above our little community.) You tend to think about that limited season before dropping a bundle of cash on a cabin up here. And if you don’t like bug spray, the mosquitoes will drive you nuts until the first week in August.

I didn’t have a bundle of cash to drop on anything 41 years ago, and I didn’t have a wife to convince when I bought my land and started stacking logs. I love it, but by the end of summer, I’m ready to drain the water, stow the solar panels, board up the windows and turn the place back over to the chipmunks for the winter. And, unfortunately, the mice.

The mice moved back inside a couple weeks ago, and they can run across the walls where the logs meet. My d-Con had lost it’s punch, so I bought new, and some traps that make their little eyes bug out when they meet their peanut butter lured demise. I’m gaining on them, and had a fresh d-Con buffet set out for them when I closed up.

Chipmunks have a great image – think Chip and Dale – but mice, not so much. Even Mickey can’t boost their poll numbers.

From an old bench in my back yard down in Cheyenne, you can see cars heading east and west on Interstate-80. For years when we lived in Illinois, we were in one of those cars, heading west with big smiles on our faces, anticipating our annual two August weeks in Wyoming, then heading back east two weeks later, not as happy, to the corn and soybean fields of Central Illinois. (It’s no Yellowstone back there, friends. The humidity is so thick in August that you have to chew the air before you breathe it.)

We had moved from Craig, Colorado – where the summers are perfect, like in Laramie – to the Peoria area, where summers are like stepping into a sweat lodge. And almost every year, we were greeted by the back-to-school heat wave, and you couldn’t even go to the pool because the lifeguards had gone back to college.

On that sober trip back east, we’d spend the night in Des Moines. That meant leaving the cabin at about 4 am, in the dark. That put us in Cheyenne at breakfast time, and one year my son bought “Pop Rocks” and Mountain Dew at a gas station convenience store. The clerk looked at me like the worst father on earth, feeding my kid “Pop Rocks” and Mountain Dew for breakfast. But hey, we’d been up so long that it was time for a mid-morning snack.

I noticed over the years that there are two kinds of people when it comes to where to live. People like me went where the job took us, moving from Wyoming to Colorado to Illinois to Nebraska (a nice state, but they’re a little too crazy about their football over there) and finally back to blessed Wyoming to retire. We have many friends in the other group, who wouldn’t consider leaving the town they love just for a job. I think on the whole, they might be happier.

Part of me, however, is like those friends who never left their home towns. Because while I worked hither and yon, a small part of me was always living up high in the Snowy Range of Wyoming.

Nice compromise..

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.