Saturday, March 06, 2021

In the evening

Editor | January 20, 2021 1:00 AM

For a lot of people, I’d say most people, the American dipper goes largely unnoticed.

It’s a gray bird for one thing, so unless you’re looking for it, it’s easy to overlook.

It pokes around the edges of streams and even floats down them, but it’s a little smaller than a robin and it blends in with the rocks and waves.

It does have some pretty cool attributes, however. For one, it flies under water to catch aquatic insects and small fish. Secondly, it sings. The best songs are right about dark on the most miserable days you can think of, in the middle of winter.

It’s not just a few notes, either. It’s a torrent of notes if a bird really gets going and it’s fantastic.

So the other night we were filming a dipper singing as darkness fell. The weather was actually quite pleasant for January, but by the time we finally left, it was working its way to full-on dark and by the time we got back to the car, it was very dark.

At least the stars were out.

That’s when I discovered I’d managed to lose the car keys.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just put on my headlamp, which was in my pack, and look for the key I thought I had stashed on the car.

But the headlamp was broken. No worries. I’ll just use the camera screen to shine some light in the crevice where I thought I’d stashed the keys.

But the crevice didn’t have the key. Neither did any of the other crevices I checked.

Now I know what you’re thinking, just use your phone to call home and have your wife bring you the other set, you dummy.

When I left, I knew I was forgetting something. Oh yeah, my phone.

So off we went, walking from the parking lot back to Glacier Park headquarters, hoping to find someone who was home that would allow us to make a call.

Like I said, at least the stars were out.

The walk was pretty easy and we did, in fact, run into Jami Belt, a Park employee friend of mine. She not only let me call my wife, but also use her little flashlight.

My wife was worried about the boy and was on her way to get us. I suspect if it had just been me, I would have had a longer walk. Home is roughly 17 miles away — doable, but an 8-hour hike.

The roads and trails were covered in ice and we walked to the West Glacier Post Office.

The flashlight came in extremely handy.

At the Post Office we had to wait awhile. The stars shone in the sky and it was a pleasant wait. Off in the distance I imagined a little gray bird tucked up in the grass along the riverbank, contemplating the next song in its repertoire.