The other day I happened to notice that the days are getting shorter here in Red Lodge. They once stretched until 9:30 p.m. or later. Now, sunset is happening closer to 8 p.m. On the 45th parallel, and at more than 5,500 feet in elevation, summers here are short, and so precious are these warm, long days that locals seem to go crazy in an attempt to fit all their summertime activities into this brief window.
I admit, I am among them.
Last Tuesday I had a plan: work, then get to the mountains for a quick hike with the dogs and home again in time for Shakespeare in the Parks. But something happened, and I'm glad it did. As I walked, I noticed the heavy smell of pine duff, soaked by a brief thundershower. I noticed the stream alongside the trail washing over its banks, the wildflowers starting to fade, moose tracks, and mating butterflies. And with each observation, my efficient pace slowed. I walked on and on, arriving back at my car hours later as the light was fading.
I would have liked to have seen A Midsummer Night's Dream performed in the park near my house, but nothing could have compared to the wonder and contentment I felt when I slowed down and enjoyed my hike.