A favorite winter companion who always brings a smile to the morning is a Mountain Cottontail we have affectionately named Bunn. While Bunn is invariably more than one we have settled on calling them all Bunn. Hey, it just is fun to say. With a cup a coffee in hand we scout the windows each morning to say hello to our crepuscular friend.

Missouri Headwaters

Missouri Headwaters State Park, MT is where the three major tributaries of the Missouri river; the Gallatin, the Jefferson and the Madison come together and form the Missouri river proper. The Missouri Headwaters area is a geographical focal point and was important to early Native Americans trappers, traders and settlers. Coveting the regions bountiful resources, the Flathead, Bannock and Shoshoni Indians competed for control of this area, as did the trappers and settlers who followed.

Lewis and Clark passed by the Missouri headwaters on both ways of their voyage of discovery in 1805 and then again in 1806. In his journal documenting the expedition Meriwether Lewis wrote the country opens suddenly to extensive and beautiful plains and meadows that appear to be surrounded in every direction with distant and lofty mountains.

From the wet river bottom to the dry bluffs above each slightly different ecosystem was bursting with life the day we visited.

A fine way to spend a summers morning.

Choke Cherry: Prunus virginiana

While the last blossoms of the Choke Cherry shrubs, which line the road near our home, have faded away their sweet smell still lingers in my head. Most of June was filled with that sweet smell as different bushes bloomed at different times of the month and thus we were treated to a wonderful progression of fragrance and sights.

The astringent fruits and even the leaves and branches of the Choke Cherry are considered an important food plant for wildlife. Both large and small mammals as well as birds utilize Choke Cherry for food. In addition to food Choke Cherry provides wildlife habitat and protection for watershed in the areas in which it grows.

Human uses include Chokecherry Jams, wine as well a medicinal uses by native cultures. New growth on the leaves can be toxic to humans and cattle especially those leaves injured by frost or draught. So do not eat the leaves.

While the fruits are quite useful it is always the blossoms that take the cake for me and somehow posting on Choke Cherry seems a fitting thing to do on the forth of July.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
United States Department of Agriculture.