Bob Spiwak Monkey Mazama

It’s 9 a.m. and cloudy this Monday. Bits of rain yesterday, and who knows — snow today? We remember a Fourth of July when it snowed. Poor tomatoes.

We heard a new bear story from down the road at the Smith’s sheep ranch. Last week, Betsy Devin Smith, our local veterinarian, came face-to-face with a bear — “… about my height, 5 foot 4 or so,” she said. It was probably fortuitous that there was a door between them, but who knows?

This all came about when Betsy spent the night in a sheepherder’s trailer Skip had built, or is still building. In any case it is quite habitable.

Betsy woke in the wee hours to a noise on the small porch on the vehicle. She went to investigate, looked out the window of the door and came face-to-face with the smallish bruin. Hard to say who was more startled at the encounter, but the bear took off.

And speaking of wildlife, we got word that somebody grazed a moose at Washington Pass, or somewhere on Highway 20, a week or so ago. There apparently was no damage to either beyond a small dent on the flank of the car. Word is that the moose was either a cow or juvenile.

Which brings up a brief mention that a young moose was spotted “in the Twisp area.” No other details. It seems there is at least one sighting a year of a moose anywhere from the Loup to Big Valley Ranch.

There was one that was hanging out around the river behind the Davis place, immediately over the Weeman Bridge. Best time to see it, we were told, was right after daybreak. So on three mornings I camped out with camera and big lens and never saw it until the third morning, when a good-sized bull with a nice antler spread came out of the woods and headed for the alfalfa field. With the first clacking of the Nikon it turned and went back into the brush. I should have waited — it was too dark and too distant a target for the slow lens.

As long as we are doing an animal discourse, my friend Bruce and his wife stopped by on their way back to the coast from Chelan. His left hand was impressively swathed in bandages. Asked what happened, Bruce, a garrulous sort, introduced his tale with something like, “This tale involves a wine tasting, a helicopter, cows falling from the sky and a careless woman.”

A novel in the making, I could tell.

The Chelan Winery has a wine that is labeled “Falling Cow.” For real.

The name comes from a situation wherein a cow fell off a cliff in the area and landed on the hood of a car containing a couple of tourists from Wisconsin. I think this was in 2007. The car was able to be driven, barely, to the parking lot at the winery, where it expired.

To commemorate the occasion on every June 15 since, the event has been celebrated with a wine tasting day. A helicopter dropped little fluffy toy cows wearing little parachutes. Some of the little cows bore letters, and the people on the ground who collected those got a free glass of wine.

So Bruce was leaning against a hay bale with a stemmed wineglass in each hand as the cows rained down and people began grabbing for them. One woman who was running for a nearby bovine tripped over Bruce, who landed on one of the glasses, breaking it at the stem, which then slashed into his hand. Luckily he got first aid, with the tripping lady following his blood trail into the winery. Being an Eagle Scout, he directed the hand-wrap. (And got a bottle of wine — gratis.)

Is there a moral to this? Maybe to beware of airborne cows falling while sipping Shiraz in the drop zone.

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