Saturday, April 30, 2011

S is for Sagebrush


My husband loves to go “boonie bashing” – driving on non-roads with a 4 wheel drive.  He loves going through rough areas just to see if he can.  Since I have been going with him he doesn’t go through the rough stuff like he used to.  But that is another story.

Sagebrush can be found in many places.  It is often viewed as a weed.  In reality it is an important ecosystem.   There are 16 species of sagebrush in Montana.  I looked that fact up.  I can only name a couple of the species.  Any way, on with the story.

We had gone hunting up near Ismay.  We had a deep aqua green pick up with new running boards on the side.  We went down a coulee.  There below us head on was a clump of sagebrush.  I took one look …

“That’s old sagebrush, you might want to go around it.”

Incredulous he said, “It’s sagebrush, it bends.”

“Old sagebrush is hardwood, it doesn’t bend. The trunk is about 4 inches in diameter”

Laughing, he hit it head on.

The metal screamed, “SCREETCH, YEEE!  EEEH”, as it was rending from the box.  The sound was deafening as the metal ripped, and shrieked.  In my mind I thought “save the pieces.”

Dan looked in the side mirror at the fragments of metal strips that lay twisted and broken in our wake alongside the trail.

“Didn’t think it would do that,” he commented as he picked up the mangled and twisted pieces of metal that had been running boards.

“Guess we should have got those Nerf bars instead of those cheap running boards.” 

I shook my head as I looked out at the ocean of sagebrush flowing down the hill.  Under my breath, but loud enough to be heard, “Maybe we should JUST gone around it.

8 comments:

  1. Well, I guess one thing to say is 'oops'! We've been there before, with a short steel post that my husband thought he could drive over. Otherwise, I love that you wrote about sagebrush. I think it's an amazing adapted plant, strong and sturdy (for sure), and interesting within its habitat. Thanks!

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  2. I love the smell of sagebrush right after the rain. I was sad to learn about how badly cheatgrass is affecting the sagebrush ecosystem.

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  3. I like how you have built your ABC series of Montana - the factual part together with your personal. I feel like I have been on a small tour.

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  4. I didn't know about the cheatgrass. Guess I haven't kept up. I have studied sage with my class in various habitats, both here in Colorado, in Arizona & in New Mexico & Mexico, but not recently. I'll look it up. You're right! Doesn't it smell wonderful? We've camped in sagebrush territory, & waked up after a night rain-heavenly!

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  5. Here are a couple of sites that talk about the problem with cheatgrass & the sagebrush ecosystem.

    http://www.western.edu/faculty/jyoung/files-documents/Fire%20in%20sagebrush%20baker.pdf

    http://www.life.illinois.edu/delucia/greatbasin.htm

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  6. Coulee, sagebrush, cheatgrass, boonie bashing...are we living in the same country??? Funny how different areas of our country have such distinctly different features and terminology.
    In Maine we have Mud Season (our fifth season) when guys go "mudding" with trucks, jeeps, atv's, etc. During mud season, we also have frost heaves and potholes, both of which can do almost as much damage as old sagebrush it appears, if you don't go AROUND them!

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  7. Dan would love mudding season.

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