Lance and Ferris weren’t awake to see Saturday’s dawn come up crisp as a cowboy’s best shine on his boots. No clouds were in the sky, indicating a warm day. They didn’t untangle the messy blankets until almost noon.
He stretched and warmed to the day. He was going to show Ferris the view from a nearby mountain where the land below had been perfectly sculpted by the hand of the Lord. He went to the kitchen to make two cups of tea. On the table he saw a note with large handwriting:
Make yourselves to home.
Larry is over to the neighbors
It’s Saturday, my Go-to-Town day.
When he came back, Ferris was coming out of the bathroom wearing the same tight black-cropped pants she had worn the day before, but now the top had been replaced by a black t-shirt which even more accented her ample breasts.
“Lance?” she asked sweetly in her Ferris voice when she saw him with two cups in his hands, “Is one of those for me?”
“Drink up,” he said, making sure the cup was squarely placed in her hand just like a practiced cowboy would do, “Need anything before we head out?”
“Borrow one of your long-sleeved shirts, maybe?”
“There’s a clean one on top that pile of suitcases.” he said, giving her rump a little pat as she came into the room, the coffee in the cup jiggling near the top.
They drove off in few minutes; Rusty Springs store their first stop.
“Strange not to see very many vehicles here,” said Lance to Barbara, behind the counter as they entered the store.
“And, who’s this?” Barbara said, taking in Ferris who breezed into the store like a queen wearing Lance’s over-large, blue denim shirt.
“Ferris, this is Barbara. She and her husband own this place.”
Barbara smiled up at Lance and gave him a wink. “Where’s she from?”
“We’re old friends from Nevada,” said Ferris, not a bit offended that Barbara was addressing her remarks to Lance instead of to her.
“How’d you find him?” Barbara looked at Ferris and posed the question everyone was dying to know.
Ferris gave Barbara her million-dollar smile, all teeth perfect and the whitest color of any Barbara had ever seen, and said slowly in her breathy way, “Oh, I knew he had to be somewhere near here, around where the Barter Faire was held. I drew a radius on a map, stopped at a few bars here and there. The guys at the Bear All were particularly helpful.”
“I’ll bet,” said Barbara who appeared a bit frazzled that she couldn’t visit any more with Ferris but had to direct her attention to two women who’d just come in and were at the counter pocketbooks out, ready to pay for fuel.
Lance went to collect picnic supplies. Ferris spotted a bulletin board. She liked to read the business cards, posters and flyers. Before her right now was a mother-lode of good information about the area.
“Lance, darlin’,” she called. “Come . . . look here.” He put down the items in his hands on the counter and came to join her at the bulletin board hanging around the corner from the main counter.
Ferris pointed to a Grange poster announcing a Memorial Day buffet and dance benefit for a food bank.
“Hum,” said Lance, slipping his arm around her, “We may be in luck.” His eyes, sharp enough to spot a deer through brush a long way off, located a calendar on the wall behind Barbara. “It’s tonight. Want to go?”
“Oh, I love dancing with you almost as much as . . .”
“Okay, it’s a done deal,” he said. “Take a look at the things over there I picked up for our picnic. If I missed something, you can add it.”
They were soon out the door of the Rusty Springs Store. Lance tossed two sacks filled with beer, chips, bean dip, a can of pears, a carton of pop and a couple of chocolate bars in the back of the truck and Lance and Ferris were on their way to enjoy the spectacular day. Ferris tucked herself as close to Lance’s right side as she could get on the bench seat.
Not far down the road, the truck began climbing a narrow, dirt path. From time to time as they made their way up the steep incline, her legs would slide to the right so she’d have to reach her legs on the floor of the truck so she wouldn’t fall off the seat.
“Don’t see any deer,” she lamented. “Trees are too tall, can’t see into the forest.”
“Plenty out there,” grinned Lance. “You’re right. There are too many trees. This whole forest needs thinning. They should let loggers in who’d cut down and harvest the poor trees; give those that are healthy a better soaking when it rains. Area’s been in drought six or seven years now. Look over there,” he said pointing to a tangled pile of trees lying in the canyon below. “Those dead trees will make this mountain a hot spot when the temperature climbs into the nineties and shoots over one hundred in a few days.”
Another view through a cut in the mountain side showed brown limbs hanging from pines. “Heartbreaking to see dying trees,” moaned Ferris.
“Don’t get me started. This is a big issue. Too many environmentalists can’t see the value of fuel or tree reduction. All it’s going to take is a lightning strike accompanied by a big wind, and then this mountain will turn black, a hellish inferno of scorched earth.” His mind reeled. He stiffened. Of all days, he was not going to think about similar scenes in Vietnam. The brakes of his inner being kicked in, the terrible thoughts thwarted.
“All this beauty and it could face such a terrible ending.” Ferris patted his arm. “Let’s stop,” she said and scooted over to the door.
Ferris jumped out onto the roadside. The bank was covered as far as the eye could see with purple wildflowers in bloom. Lance rolled down the window. He wanted a clear viewer of her lovely curves as she bent down to pick the blossoms. She ran further up the road to pick more, came back, made a tent cover for them under a blanket and bounced herself back up into the truck.
“If you like wild flowers so much,” he said, “I know a place where there are lilacs. You like lilacs?”
“Every girl does,” she grinned.
The truck bumped up the mountain until it stopped on a large, wide plain near a dilapidated building. A long spread of purple bushes bloomed beside it.
“What was this place?”
“Long time ago, stage coaches stopped here.”
“Way up here?”
“Sure did. All this area belonged to a huge cattle ranch.” He drove up closer to the building, and stopped at a place where the vista opened to the glory of God. The area below was verdant and green; the majesty of distant mountains holding court under the sky’s endless blue canopy.
She grasped his arm, her eyes glowing, “All this glory . . . thank you . . . thank you . . . thank you . . . Ferris jumped out and ran over to cover herself within the bushes of lilacs, breathing in their heavenly fragrance, but snapping off just one tiny bunch.
Lance came over with a gray woolen blanket and spread it upon the ground.
They sat, shoulder to shoulder looking down at the great spread of green in silence, their eyes feasting upon the beauty below. “My soul needed this,” she said, the lilac branch in one hand and gently breathing in its luscious fragrance. “If this view were any more gorgeous, I would think life would be over.”
“Lady, then you’d better be extremely careful in Alaska where you’re heading. There will be one majestic sight after another.”
“I don’t know why I’m on such a quest.”
“Indians would call what you’re doing, a walk about. When you come across what it is you’ve been looking for, you’ll know it.”
“When I was driving here to find you,” she said, “In my mind, I thought I was going to ask you to come with me, but now I know that wouldn’t be right for either of us. Montana is filled with healing graces. This ranch is good for you!” Abruptly she took up her original plan again. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with me? Can’t you?” she teased.
“Let it go,” he said, unwilling to break the spell of the joy-filled moment. “Time we head into town for dinner and some dancing, don’t you think? “
“Sure,” she purred. “But, only after we enjoy the picnic lunch you’ve planned for us. I’m so hungry now. Tonight, I look forward to dancing with you. It’s like floating in air to music. Only problem is, once we start, I always wish we could go on dancing together forever. It’s heaven to be in your arms.”