The sky ran down from blue to pink to jack o’lantern orange and then the bats came out and did their circus moves, and though they were blind they were perfect, they had other senses to use.
And then the chill came down which was not a real chill but a perceptible change in the temperature which still feels like a chill, the change —
Just the birds in the morning and the sound of a far-off car coming through the valley, coarse wheels on gravel.
Clouds on the mountains of Montana, the valley filled with wildfire smoke, haze. One last pocket of snow on the highest peak. The odometer says we drove a thousand miles in just three days, stopping in Coeur d’Alene and then on to Big Sky. The kids and their things spilled out like a loose burrito in the back of the car. We planned to leave the house at 5:15 AM to beat the Yellowstone crowds and made it out by 5:20—12 of us, five kids. Mountain ranges turned to ghosts by smoke.
The sun does its blood red thing, a soft warm glow in the morning. The moon, pink-gold over the canyons. Everyone in the parking lot with bikes, trailers, dogs, coolers. Clean mountain air at last, the atmosphere’s cleared from the fires but when we get on the road tomorrow, they’ll be burning all around us driving home. Twelve-hour drive, two or three breaks, tops.