The Back Porch

On summertime mornings, I love having breakfast and reading the newspaper on my northwest-facing back porch. At first sunrise, the sunlight kisses the tops of the Rattlesnake Mountain’s Stuart Peak and Sleeping Woman Peak on the Ninemile Divide.

Images of ancient glacial Lake Missoula flash to mind as long-ago shoreline-washed ridges appear on the slopes of North Hills as the low-angled sun-shadows are cast. How many years did waves, icy I suspect, splash upon those shores? What beasts sheltered in the forested mountains above? Ten thousand years ago, woolly mammoths were around but I wonder: Were they in what is now Western Montana? How about dire wolves, and giant bears? Did they experience the glacial lake? Were mountain lions here then? Or the saber-toothed cat? I’ll have to look all that stuff up one day.

From a low angle, I live above the valley floor. Our row of little homes is the first tier above Southwest Higgins Avenue. My view is across leafy treetops. This is good because that angle camouflages the many low-sprouting houses around Missoula. What one sees from my back porch is essentially a forest of deciduous trees. The leafy cover disappears in fall; during winter I suffer the sight of dwellings below.

Alas, there are a few summertime eyesores. Missoula Manor Retirement Home and the unsightly “too-many-storied” office buildings on South Avenue, north of Southgate Mall, are distractions. Garish are the yellow, orange and reddish tubes channeling kids upon high to waters below at the swimming pool. These are contrasted with the cool, calming green meadows of Playfair Park and the adjoining soccer fields.

There is a brief magical time in the fall when the leafy valley’s camouflage turns golden and brightens my view. Then, tons of drab dead leaves must be managed and properly disposed of. Recycled to compose for reuse next spring, I hope!

Paper’s read and coffee’s gone, a welcoming new retirement day begins. I love this place!