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Bison

The roadsides are choked with ravens, big as ‘coons, and though the passing trucks spook them off the deer that lies in ugly ruin in the ditch, they always return. Competing with bald eagles for lunch, they caw loudly and hop about in anxious bunches.

The bison along the creek have snow in their manes and ice near their mouths. The cows in other fields low softly into hay dropped from the back of a pickup.

The slow climb up the pass is slick and beautiful.

Rock faces splashed with snow are topped by shocks of conifer. Here and there, a mailbox decked with evergreen sprigs and red ribbon. With every curve of the road oncoming drivers share glances of clenched concentration. A yearling elk darts away into a birch thicket.

The quick descent down the pass is just slick.

The streets uptown are a river of slush the color of coffee with cream. Wet boots. Twinkle lights. Ice sculpted into bison and dragons and Celtic knots.

Inside, yarn stars dangle from a garland – red, white, green, gold, blue. The fire smolders as if taking an afternoon nap, occasionally wakened by a popping spark. Coffee percolates, a cat snores.

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