The pioneer and some wildflowers

I have frequently mentioned one of my Idaho neighbors, Leonard, in this blog. I often refer to him as Ol' Leonard because of his role as neighborhood patriarch. His family homesteaded the land on which he and his family still live. They sold off most of the homestead's acres to a developer who then subdivided into the 5 to 10 acre lots that I and others purchased and built homes on. Talk about a lot of change for someone who grew up without any close neighbors.

Leonard has not only been gracious about welcoming all of us who invaded his little bit of heaven, but he's become a dear friend. For me, he's a living piece of history of the area, a descendant of a pioneer family. If I have any questions about the local landmarks or history, I ask Leonard first.

Most days when I'm there, if Leonard's home, I can't drive past his house toward mine without stopping to visit. We've swapped many a dirty joke during these impromptu chats - me sitting in my car, engine off, parked on the side of the road, Leonard leaning on my door. We also discuss politics, world events, dogs, wildlife, and local gossip.

Leonard loves dogs. That's all I ever needed to know about him, to know we could be friends. The rest is negotiable.

Leonard, shootin the bull with me.
What you can't see in this photo are the cochlear implants behind each of Leonard's ears. They make him look a bit robotic, or alien. I admire him for undergoing that procedure just a few years ago, when regular hearing aids didn't work well enough for him. He did tell me once that his wife Kay got real upset when he accidentally mowed over one of the special pieces that attach to the implants while on his riding mower.

Sadly, Leonard lost Kay, the love of his life and wife of 49 years, earlier this year. He just had a hip replacement. He's also got lots of hardware in his legs from a serious logging truck accident years ago. He has some false teeth. He's 72. He loves to walk, often into the forest with binoculars around his neck to better see the wildlife. Nothing slows the man down. That's why I like him. We don't agree on much politically, or about the reintroduction of wolves, but we're fast friends who love sharing jokes and neighborhood gossip while walking our dogs through the forest looking for deer, elk, coyotes and yes, wolves.


One of the many reasons I love traipsing through Idaho's high elevation forests in early summer is the abundance of wildflowers.

Indian paintbrush.
Phlox, growing in the cracks of a boulder.

Indian paintbrush and phlox together.
Rebecca WallickComment