Greg and Vic waited at the refuge until Chuck and Tim arrived. Greg said he was taking Vic to town, and would do a few chores, but should be back by early afternoon.

   "That's fine. I'll see you then, and we can plan the week. I'm going  up to Idaho Falls tomorrow, come back Wednesday. I want to get in another session while John and Dan are both still at the refuge. I'll be sure to be around Thursday and Friday, for any wedding business that needs doing. By the way, Tim and I both had our tuxedo fittings on Saturday."

   Chuck got a phone call just then, so Vic and Greg walked out to the shop with Tim. They told him about wanting to have a going-away party for Chuck and Alice.

   "Sure, I'd be glad to help. When are we talking about?"

  "I guess that's the first question," Vic replied. "I don't want to rush us. On the other hand, I don't think we want it just as they're stepping out the door, or in the midst of the most intense packing. They won't leave here before the first of August, because the manager won't be gone before then. They could be planning that next week, but I'm hoping it will be the second week in August, not the first. They would give us the last week in July, and the first week in August to fit it in."

   "What kind of party were you thinking about?"

   "Greg mentioned either coffee and cake, or a potluck, but I think we agree that a potluck would take too much planning and organizing, in the short time we have." She looked at Greg for confirmation. He nodded. "Also, I was thinking that it should be as much of a surprise as possible - no announcements, just word of mouth invitations. We know enough people around town that I think we could spread the word okay that way."

   "Sure, I'd think so, given enough time. Had you thought about a gift?"

   Greg and Vic looked at each other. "No," they both said at once.

   "Well, here's a possibility. As you know, my sister is a pretty good artist. If I gave her a couple weeks’ notice, I bet she'd like to paint something original for them."

   "That would be amazing!" Vic exclaimed. "Well, this all means we have to set a date just as soon as possible. If you guys can try to get some moving date out of Daddy, Mandy and I will work on Mom. Whenever it is, we need to really set the wheels in motion as soon after the wedding as possible."


   In town, they stopped at the camera shop to pick up the California photos, and to talk a little about the wedding photography. Vic and Alice had decided that the individual photos would be nice if taken on the lawn outside the community hall. Bobby said he'd go look it over, and decide about placement, lighting, and such.

   From Bobby's, they stopped at the office supply store, and had copies made of Greg's letter.  At the library, Greg asked Marjorie, the librarian, if she had anything that would tell him the names of the congressmen on the committee investigating the draft, or the President's newly-appointed study group. She didn't have a ready answer, but said she'd check, and then call Vic. In the meantime, Greg copied down the names of a dozen congressmen who might be interested.

   They met Alice for lunch at the diner, then Greg left them and returned to the refuge. He stopped briefly at the office, to let Chuck know he was back, then went out onto the refuge to check his water manipulations. The level in the first pool had already dropped noticeably, and shorebirds - dowitchers, stilts, avocets, yellowlegs - were probing in the drying mud along its edges. He moved on to the next two ponds, and pulled boards to keep the water moving down the line. It all seemed to be going satisfactorily, but he was concerned about how much drying mud was already showing. He'd have to keep a close watch.  He spent a little more time checking out the wildlife (still quite a few young ducklings), before heading back to the office just at quitting time.

   Greg got cleaned up, then went over and had dinner with Chuck. They talked a little about his upcoming trip to Idaho Falls, then Greg moved the topic to when Chuck and Alice were actually moving.

   "Well, I got my official papers in the mail today, so it's safe to plan the time."


  "Well, Gib, our personnel manager over in Portland, warns everybody never to believe your move is real until you have the actual paperwork in hand." Chuck paused, and chuckled. "Actually, with Mac, even that isn't completely safe. True story - a couple of years ago, a graduate of the student trainee program got his first full-time assignment. He actually had his papers in hand. Since they were a young couple without a lot of possessions to move, he and she thought they could probably take everything to their new station in two car loads. They drove the 400 miles from school to their apparent new refuge, only to have the manager tell them that he hadn't been informed that they were coming. Not just coming to the refuge that day, but I mean he didn't have word that the young man had even been selected as his assistant.

   "The manager got on the phone to Mac, and apparently talked quite a while. When he finally got off the phone, the young man was told that Mac had changed his mind, and that the assignment was going to be to a different refuge. The manager had also been informed by Mac that he - the manager - was being moved, too! In the end, both ended up at refuges about as far away as one can get from their current location, and still be in this region."

   "Wow! Is that really a possibility? What does one do?"

   "Wait for your papers before doing anything? Yes, definitely. After you have your papers, I don't think there's really any worry. I don't know of any other case like the one I mentioned. Mac has been working for so long on our combined situations that I don't have any fears he would change anything at this late date."

   "So, you were just being mean, telling me this?"

   "Yeah, pretty much. Actually, the assistant liked his new assignment much better than the original. I'm not sure about Don. He liked where he had been, but he survived several more moves engineered by Mac. He's still kicking around here, actually."

   "Thanks for that. Getting back to what I hope is more real, do you and Alice have a ballpark date for when you'll actually move? I know John is supposed to move at the beginning of August."

   "I may know a little better after my trip tomorrow, but right now this is what we're thinking. The week after the wedding, we'll try to get all our personal belongings and housewares packed. That'll probably be mostly Allie and the girls, because I think I'll make one more Idaho Falls trip before John leaves. I think his last official day is July 29, but I suspect they won't really be out of the house until sometime that next week, maybe around Wednesday, the 3rd., but I think for our planning purposes, I'll give him the whole week.

   "We have to be out of the rental house by Monday, the 15th. We don't really have much there, except our personal, day-to-day stuff, so we can leave that clean-up to the last minute - maybe even have you and Vic and Mandy do the final stuff there? Anyway, we'd move everything the week of August 7, probably do it in two trips and take Tim with me to do the loading and unloading. Then,  I'd gather up Allie and any final possessions, and make the final move over the August 13 weekend."

   "That sounds pretty reasonable. You seem to be giving yourself plenty of time."

   "Well, as I said, I can probably pretty much confirm that by the time I get back here Wednesday.

  "There was one thing I wanted to tell you about, while it's on my mind. This is a story I cut out of the Sunday paper. Why don't you take a minute and read it?"

   The story was about land owners in the Rupert area setting up a committee to study how to protect their property from hunters. The gist of the problem was apparently as given in a quote by one of the organizers. "Many landowners realize that many hunters are responsible hunters and respect property rights, but too many do not exercise that responsibility."  An actual problem wasn't stated, but it was clearly a trespass issue, and the landowners were not sure how much control they actually had over hunting on their land. A list of the things the group wanted to consider included: 1. hunting on private land by written permission only; 2. encouraging farmers to close all their land to hunting; 3. insisting on enforcement of prohibitions on road hunting and loaded guns in vehicles; 4. encouraging Idaho Fish and Game to remove birds from the area as an "attractive nuisance;" 5. forming gun clubs and charging for hunting; and 6. closing the entire area to hunting.

   Greg finished the article. "Is this about waterfowl, upland game, or about all hunting?"

   "I think probably all hunting, but when they talk about 'attractive nuisance,' it seems like that has to apply to ducks and geese. I mean, pheasants, Huns, doves, and rabbits are everywhere, and there's not much to do about that. Ducks and geese could be an issue, but only after freeze-up. Then, they go sit on whatever open water there is in the river, and come up looking for food in farm fields. That's probably an attraction to hunters cruising the roads, looking for something to shoot at.

   "Much of what they seem to be talking about is already covered by law, so enforcement is apparently the main issue. I mean, I think it's Idaho law - it is in most states - that private land is private, unless specific permission is given to enter. I don't think it has to be posted with signs - I think it just is. Shooting from a road, or having a loaded gun in your vehicle, are clearly prohibited. It looks like they know that, but they're asking for better enforcement. I think they could charge for hunting on their land if they wanted to, but I don't know what hunter would pay for what is probably just an opportunistic shot, or two, not a significant hunting spot.

   "Well, I think it's really a Fish and Game issue, not anything we could do anything about. Having said that, we're 'the Feds' and we have something to do with wildlife, so you're probably going to get sucked in, some way. Attend a meeting or two, and explain why you let the problem develop."

   "Yeah, like our gulls eating their fish, or our hemlock poisoning their cattle."

   "Yep, pretty much like that, although the poison hemlock is a little different, maybe. There's about zero chance of hemlock growing on the refuge poisoning anybody's cattle. On the other hand, it is a dangerous weed, and pretty painless public relations for us to say that we're helping in the fight to keep it from spreading."

    "I'll try to remember that when I am being lambasted at some future meeting."

   Greg was almost out the door (having escaped the usual checkers debacle) when Vic called for him. Marjorie, the librarian, hadn't been able to find the names of everyone on the two committees, but she gave Vic six or seven of them. Greg decided to use them, pick a few more congressmen at random from the list he already had, and decide on three or four big newspapers. Vic also confirmed the probable date of her parents' move, having talked to her mother about it. Greg escaped from the house without playing checkers.

   That night, Vic talked to Mandy about the proposed going-away party. Mandy was excited, and ready to strategize with them.


   In the morning, Chuck met briefly with Greg and Tim, then headed for Idaho Falls. Greg told Tim what he had learned about Chuck and Alice's move. "Considering everything, I think we'd be aiming for somewhere around August 6. That's what - about 18 days? Would that be enough time for your sister to create something?"

   "I don't know. I'll ask her tonight. Any ideas about what she should do?"

  "I'll talk to Vic about it, but I think we'd just like her to use her own imagination and creativity. She knows the Andersons, and she knows what goes on out here, so..."

   "Okay, that's what I'll tell her. While you're here, do you want to see Mandy's and my arbor, or bower, or whatever it is? It's just over in the other building."

   Tim showed him a wooden framework, with a rounded top. "I know it doesn't look like much, yet, but I think it's going to be pretty nice. It's only wide enough for you and Vic to stand side by side in it, but Mandy and I will be close enough to hand you the rings, and such. I still have some lattice work to do on the sides, to enclose it a bit more, and Mandy had given me instructions on what kind of containers we need on the front to hold the flowers. She's also given me instructions on painting it, in colors that will match the wedding dresses and flowers. I'll paint it either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, so we'll be sure it's fully dry when I take it to town on Friday."

   Greg took a little personal time to address all his congressional letters. He had them ready to go out with the government mail when Mike arrived.

   "Almost wedding time, Greg. Haven't changed your mind yet, have you?"

   "Not a chance. I know a good thing when I see it. Will you be able to come?"

   "Wouldn't miss it. Somebody else will take the mail that day. I don't usually deliver on Saturday, anyway."

   "I guess you know all the details of Chuck and Alice's move."

   "Probably. They leave for Idaho Falls sometime in August, then you and Vic will be the big bosses here."

   "Well, sort of 'big bosses.' Chuck is actually going to be the refuge manager for both here and there. I'll still be his assistant manager. I'll stay here until around Thanksgiving, then go up to be with them through the winter."

   "And Tim will be the caretaker here until you come back in the spring. Yeah, Rae told me."

   "So, you know Rae?"

   "Sure, since grammar school. Tim too... Well, wait on that. I can't ever remember exactly when the Johnsons moved here. I knew Tim all the way through high school, anyway. He, Rae and I were in the same class."

   "Really? I didn't know that."

   "Yes, I know that folks out this way think I've been delivering their mail since the Pony Express folded, but actually it's only been these few years since graduation." She paused, as if thinking about something. "Rae and Tim. It's about time on that one. They've been together since high school - they just didn't realize it. You should have seen them at the Senior Prom. There wasn't any question, even way back then. I'm glad they finally saw it. Maybe theirs will be the next wedding bells after yours and Vic's."


   Greg spent the rest of the day in the office, had dinner, then came back over to the manager's residence to call Vic.

   "So, it looks like around Saturday, August 6, would be the day to shoot at for the party," he said.

  "I hadn't picked an actual date but, yes, that's about what I came up with. I guess I better check right away to see if we can get the community hall that day. What do you think, afternoon or evening?"

   "Probably afternoon. Give folks enough time for their Saturday shopping and lunch, then have them done in time for anything they want to do in the evening. I imagine we're talking pretty informal, and not lasting more than a couple hours?"

   "That's what I'd think. Have a few of our friends make cakes, and have coffee, tea, and soft drinks. The big thing is getting a room, so I'll do that tomorrow, and probably put off all the other planning until after Saturday."

   "Saturday? What happens Saturday?"

   There was a momentary silence on the line. "I don't think that deserves an answer, Gregory."

   "You're right. I definitely know what Saturday is. It's just that I was talking to Mike today, and she asked me if I'd changed my mind, yet. 'Yet,' like she was expecting it to happen. I just got to wondering..."

   "Gregory, we've had this conversation. You love being with 'the little woman.' You're eagerly looking forward to your 'ball and chain.' Get with the program. I'm getting married Saturday, with or without you!"

   "Well, when you put it that way..."

   "I do."

   "Okay, your wise counsel has put me back on course. Thank you. Now, speaking of Mike, did you know that she, Rae, and Tim all graduated together?"

   "No. I knew that Tim and Rae went to their Senior Prom together, but I didn't know that Mike was around, then."

   "Not only around, but according to her, she decided at the Senior Prom, that Tim and Rae would get hitched. Her timing was a little off - like, ten years or so, - but she still insists she was right. Now, if you'd been around to get things going, they'd probably have half a dozen kids by now."

   "You probably exaggerate my skills, but I certainly got you moving, didn't I? But the question here is, do Rae and Tim know they're holding things up?"

   "I have no idea. They've seemed pretty cozy the few times I'm seen them together, and when they came to the mist-netting, they said the were 'going steady.' That sounds like it could be serious, but..."

   "Well, I've had the impression it's serious, and with that in mind, I've had kind of a crazy idea. What about making Rae an official part of the wedding party?"

   "In what way?"

   "Well, she's going to be coming to dinner, and the wedding, as Tim's date. Why couldn't I make her my second bridesmaid, or assign her some official duty? Then, she could be in the wedding photos with all of us."

   "Wow, that's an idea I hadn't considered. My initial thought is, do you have time to really get her ready - you know, a similar dress to Mandy's, or something? But I guess my biggest concern would be, what if they aren't a long-term couple? How do we - and especially how does he - explain in future years the strange young woman in all the photos with him?"

   There was another quiet period on the line. "I see what you're getting at, but I still like my idea. I guess we need to know how serious they are. How do we find out?"

   It was Greg's turn to pause the conversation. "I may live to regret this, but why don't I just ask Tim? Your dad's gone tomorrow, so we'll be here by ourselves. I'll try to find some non-threatening, non-embarrassing way to bring up the subject. I may have to blame you for the question."

  "That's okay. Just get the answer, quickly."

  "I will try, my meddlesome darling. Now, about a wedding that's actually happening, when would you like to see me in town."

  "I would like to see you this very minute, but I assume you're talking about the wedding preparations. Can you come in for at least part of the day on Thursday, so we can go over everything that needs to happen on Friday and Saturday?"

   "I will be there."


   Wednesday morning, Greg made a point of going out to talk to Tim soon after he arrived. He hadn't been able to come up with any neat ways to get into the conversation. So, after a bit of general talk about work, he dove right in.

   "I was talking to Mike the other day. I didn't realize that she'd gone to school with you and Rae."

   "That's true. We went through high school together. Rae and Mike have known each other longer. Rae's family has been here since the beginning of time. Mike came from California when she was in the Fourth or Fifth grade, I think. My family came just before I started high school."

   "Mike told me one thing that maybe she shouldn't have, but I was interested. She said that she had decided by the time of your Senior Prom that you and Rae were going to get married."

   "She said what?"

  "She said everybody but you two seemed to know it, and she just wondered why it hadn't happened. A bit of knowledge I didn't need, but then last night Vic asked me something that made it a little bit relevant."

   Tim stared at him for a moment. "Let's go outside, and sit in the sun." They settled on the bunkhouse steps. "Well, I guess in this kind of community, everybody's business is fair game. But why would Mike tell you that?"

   "Honestly, I think it was just because we were talking about my wedding, and the thought of you and Rae crossed her mind, and came out of her mouth without really intending to. Sorry."

   "But you said Vic was involved some way?"

   "Vic - without talking to Mike - decided that maybe you and Rae were engaged, or near engagement. If that was the case, she thought it might be nice to include Rae as an official member of the wedding party - assign her a specific role, have her in all the wedding group photos, and such. I think it's a nice idea, if that's the case. If it isn't, it could prove awkward at some point. What do you say when your future wife and future five kids ask who the pretty lady is, who's on your arm in all our wedding photos? As I say, awkward."

   "I'll ignore the wife and five kids for the moment, and just talk about the basic issue. I love Rae - probably have for as long as Mike says, maybe longer. I think I would like to marry her. I think we could have a good life together. The thing is, we've never talked about such things. I'm not sure we've ever said 'I love you' out loud, and I know we've never mentioned the word 'marriage.' I know Rae likes me - likes me a lot, maybe loves me - but I don't know. And I don't have any idea how she feels about marriage. As much as I like to be with her, I don't think it's right to bring her into the actual wedding party."

   "Okay, I'll tell Vic. I imagine you would like to have some photos of you and Rae together in your finery, so I'll ask Bobby to make sure he gets those. I'll also ask him to take some of you and Rae alone together. If you do end up married, you'll be glad to have those. If you don't, you can either tear them up, or hide them under your mattress, to peruse in nostalgic quietness."

   Tim chuckled. "Under my mattress, huh? Do you have photos of old girlfriends under your mattress?"

   "I only had one long-term girlfriend before Vic. I'm not sure I ever had any photos of her but, if I did, they're long gone. With Vic, there's no need for any reminiscences about anybody else.

   "Say, I have another idea."

   Tim buried his face in his hands. "Please, please spare me from another idea."

   "No, you'll like this one. It's inspired. Saturday, after the wedding is over and everybody has gone home, there's going to be an unused motel room..."

   "Greg, we just agreed that Rae and I aren't far enough along to put her in the wedding party. Now, you're sending me to a motel?"

   "Yes, but it's not what it sounds like. Let me finish. Now, we reserved two motel rooms for the wedding. My folks are staying in one. You, Chuck and I will be using the other to get in and out of our tuxedos. Once we're changed and out of there, the room is still ours until 11 o'clock on Sunday morning. If you wanted to take Rae there for a long, quiet chat, you'd have it to yourselves."

   "That's fine, but I'd be asking her to come to a motel with me, for a private conversation. With the reputation that motels have, what do you think she'd say?"

   "Probably, 'not on your life, bud!' So, it's your job to convince her that everything is on the up and up, and that you're trustworthy, and what you have to say is important enough to take the chance."

   "And how do I do that?"

  "Well, probably first off, you have to get rid of the image forming in her mind of a big double bed taking up half the space in the room. Make the bed irrelevant. Confront it right up front. 'Yes, there is a bed. If you want, I'll have the owner remove it.' Of course, he won't, but you're showing how far you'll go to protect her, and her reputation. Maybe you'll just say that you'll turn the bed upside down, taking away all its evil powers. Or maybe say you'll pile the bed so high with furniture that nobody could get in it for any purpose. She'll be laughing at you by then, but I think she'll also get the message that you understand her concerns.

   "Now, there is another possible problem to confront. You know you like one another, and I suspect you both like to kiss. Entering a private room, you might feel a strong urge to do some of that. It would no doubt be very pleasant, but it would cast some doubt on how important your important discussion really was. Give her some assurance that you're only there for one reason. Say you promise you won't kiss her or try to kiss her while you're in the room. Tell her you won't touch her! Say you'll arrange the chairs so that you're at least ten feet apart while you're talking to one another. She probably won't hold you to any of these promises by the time you leave but, again, you're showing your sincerity."

   "Okay, Greg, say that any of this works, and we actually end up in the motel room. What happens then?"

   "Just what you wanted. You tell her how much you love her, how long you've loved her, why you love her, and why you'd like to be married to her. If you make it to that point, I think your emotion will tell her everything she needs to know."

   "Okay, so what if she says no?"

   "Well, rejection is never easy, particularly if it's something you really want. But your only choice at that moment is to take her home, then later figure out what kind of relationship you want - friendly rancher neighbors, or something else?

   "I think the chances of rejection are near zero. More likely is that she won't give you a clear answer, but will want to think about it. That's okay. You've got it out in the open, and I think eventually you'll get a definite 'yes.' Don't let it wait too long, though. Arrange a private follow-up meeting soon. Take her out on the refuge, park and watch the sunset and listen to the ducks. Or take her to the bunkhouse for a couple hours - neither should be a problem after you've survived the motel. So, just take her anywhere you can to hash out the last details."

   "Okay, in this dream, I've got her to the motel. But what if she absolutely won't go there with me?"

  "Take her home, but if you've made your message urgent enough, she's really going to want to know what you would have said. She may ask why you can't tell her, now. You can. Stop the truck on her road before you get to the house, and pour out your message, just like you would have at the motel. She'll probably really like that."

   "So, why didn't we just do this to begin with, and forget all the motel business?"

   "You could have, but it might have diluted the sincerity of what you wanted to say. You know, you stop for a little kiss before you get to her door. 'By the way, honey, why don't we get married?' Not the same impact, is it?"

   "Is any of this going to work, Greg?"

   "How do I know? If I was writing it in a novel, it would. Real life is a little trickier. You and Rae have to figure out the actual moves."


   They continued to sit in the sun, thinking their own thoughts. "So, did you and Vic have a quiet, private place to talk about love and marriage?" Tim finally asked.

   "I don't think we ever really talked about love and marriage, as such. I think we just decided those things as we went along. However, we have had regular, private talks about a lot of things. They 're in motel rooms when she's in school, because that's the only private place we have. Usually, however, our 'motel' has been the front steps over at my house. Ever since the first week I got here, whenever we were both around, Saturday morning is our talking time. It started out just getting to know one another - you know, books and movies and music, and our families - but then we moved on to other stuff. Vic is a great one for just asking some question, and then seeing where the conversation goes. Sometimes, it has taken us into a bright clear sky of understanding, and sometimes we've followed Alice down some rabbit hole. It's all been fun."

   "What do you talk about?"

  "You name it, we've probably been there. We've talked about school desegregation in the South, the race riots in L. A., abortion..."


  "Yeah. That was one I didn't think I wanted to get in to, so I just told her it was illegal almost everywhere. She said she knew that, but that didn't stop the girls in school - this was before she graduated - it didn't stop the girls from talking about it, and she was pretty sure there had been a couple in the school. So, we spent an hour or so talking about abortion. Thanks to a sociology class I had in college, I actually know quite a bit about how the abortion laws came about. She had a story she wanted to tell about people she knew in school who had been confronted with the issue, up close and personal. It was quite a session."

  "I imagine it was."

  "Let's see, what else? Oh, we talked about church and religion. I was pretty worried about that one when we started. Everybody believes something about those topics, but the beliefs can be pretty different, different enough that they could affect - maybe even kill - a relationship. Vic and I have some divergent thoughts but, luckily, they don't amount to really serious differences.

   "Oh, one time - actually a couple of times - we talked about Viet Nam and about the draft. We talked about how to back a tractor with a trailer behind it. Then, we..."

   "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Are you saying that it was Vic who taught you how to back the tractor?"

   "It was. She was really good at it, too. She had to get me thinking in a different way about how vehicles work. Like, cars and trucks and tractors have all kinds of ways they can move and turn, but a trailer can only do what you teach it to do. When she had taught me the ways to 'teach' it, I was backing it into its stall in only about a half-hour."

   "Oh, boy. It never even crossed my mind that Vic was involved. Who else knows this?"

  "Nobody - oh, probably Mandy has known from the start, either because Vic told her, or because of this strange thought-sharing thing that they seem to do."

  "Well, I'll keep your secret."

  "There's no need to do that. I've actually been sorry that Vic hasn't got the credit she deserves. But we were having so much fun, dazzling you with the birth of my mysterious learning powers, that we kept it going. I feel it's time for 'the Secret of the Tractor' to be revealed to the world."


   Greg called Vic that evening, and told her that Tim didn't think Rae should be officially in the wedding party. "It's not that he doesn't love her, and hope to marry her someday, but they're just not that far along, yet. I told him we'd be sure to have Bobby take some non-wedding party photos of the two of them." He didn't tell her about the motel part of the conversation.

   "That's okay. It was just an idea. I'm still going to recruit her to do some special things, just because she'll be around, and I suspect she'll want to be busy. Are you going to be able to come to town tomorrow?"

   "I will be there. I'm going to wait out here long enough to talk to your dad and Tim about some work stuff, but I'll try to get in there by noon."

   "That'll work"


    Chuck, Tim and Greg met in the office Thursday morning, and Chuck told them about his trip to Idaho Falls. "Nothing in particular to report, just going over all the refuge operations with John and Dan. I think I'll try to make one more trip up there next week. Dan will be around another month or so, so there's no  question about me having plenty of support getting started.

   "My real concern right now is that our fire season has suddenly arrived with a vengeance. There are a whole series of blazes up around Blackfoot that have already burned about 75,000 acres. In the mountains south of Burley, another 3,000 acres have burned in several fires, and there are little spot blazes all over the place. Most were started by lightning.

   "The good news for us - at least, so far - is that none of the electrical storms have drifted out into Magic Valley itself, and the weather folks don't think any will, in the near future. However, we know that these little summer storm cells are very unpredictable, and our temperatures are supposed to keep hitting the 90s. A fire on or near the refuge is not out of the question.

   "As you guys know, BLM is under contract to fight refuge fires but, if any start or threaten, we need to be in touch with the fire crews. Obviously, that would be awkward if it happened on Saturday. If somebody needed to go, I'd get our girls up to you guys before I leave. I'd hate to miss any of the ceremony, but that looks like the only logical way, if necessary. The weather folks say it's highly unlikely, so we'll try to hold them to that."

   "The community hall is air conditioned," said Greg, "so I think the wedding itself will be okay. A little rain or lightning might make Bobby move his picture taking indoors, but that would still work out. Let's just hope the weatherman is right about the storms.

   "I'm going to town to meet Vic in a while, and take care of any last-minute preparations. I'll take leave tomorrow, too. Tim, if you bring the wedding bower when you and Rae come to dinner, then we'll go over to the hall and set it up afterward. I think Vic wants to run through a quick rehearsal with us at that time, too.

   "About the refuge water, the first pool is almost dry, now. The next two in line are holding up okay, but I removed a board in each of them, just to keep the water moving. If we don't get any early rains, I'm afraid we might be pretty dry by hunting season. After the wedding, I'll talk to Fish and Game, and see how they're doing in their areas."

   "I'll probably come to town fairly early tomorrow," said Chuck, "So I'll be around for any heavy lifting. Tim, I think Allie said we're planning dinner around six o'clock."


 To The Writing It Down Homepage

Leave a Comment:

© Sanford Wilbur 2024