Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Under Construction


All I wanted to do was change the header image. Done.

Then I pressed the wrong button and everything went awry and I don't know what I'm doing.

I have a "techy" friend. Maybe she will help me get back on track.

One good's not snowing!




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

All Sprightly

The Silver Moonbeam smelled the same and a new batch of chipmunks were on the scene. Prayer flags were flying, tiny flowers were peeking up as was the marmot's head and every living thing was moving and dancing to the beat of the woodpecker's drum. Oh, the afternoon was bursting at the seams! This is the happiest place on earth, not Disneyland!

I'm always a little wound up the first night's sleep in the trailer. The woods are dark and silent and the stars shine just enough to see a glow on the "Dragoon-like" hoodoos that skirt this small piece of land. There wasn't a sound in the woods, but that's not why I couldn't sleep. I'd open my eyes, sit up and look out the window. Nothing. I'd go back to sleep. Again and again, I'd spring halfway up, look out the window...nope. There is no bear out there.

I'm not afraid of bears. I'm not. (Well, maybe a little). I just know that they are up from their naps, they're hungry and I'm curious as heck about them. As you can see, they're fond of aspen trees. They say that bears remember where they had their last good meal and we all know what 'my' bear Peaches had for breakfast last September, don't we? I'll remind you. Smoked salmon, 8oz. of clover honey and a few pounds of Colorado peaches. Helloooo?! It's just a matter of time before he comes around, peering into the windows of that same white car, looking for a snack. I suppose that's why I kept waking up. I suppose a small part of me wants to see him.

After the sun came up I took a ceremonial tour around the land. In a small patch of leftover snow was a paw print of a Bobcat. I found the half eaten carrot I had left for The Rabbit the night before. Afterall, it was Easter. Sometime during the cold, cold winter, one of the ponderosa pine trees had split and toppled over. Pieces of soggy rust colored bark lay on the ground. The tree had been infested with the bark beetle so it had been stagnant and dead for awhile. We followed some mule deer tracks along Lone Pine Creek and stood to watch a couple of scruffy youngsters grazing in a field nearby. I adore mule deer. More than ever. Now, when I see one, I'm reminded of the PBS Nature special that just premiered called Touching the Wild. Naturalist Joe Hutto lived with a family of Muley's for seven years. What compassion! A visual feast! Here is an inspiring story and message about mule deer and our relationship with them and the land. I admit I have a ridiculous amount of love for wild animals. "I wasn't seeing something, I was seeing someone". ~ JHutto I hear you loud and clear, Joe! And I am forever changed by the story he shared and what I saw.


It was late in the afternoon when we headed north, back home to Wyoming. Back to our little town, to the place where we work, to the busyness, the supermarkets and the friendly chatter of human voices, to the sounds of screeching car tires and trucks that spew black. Back to the everyday chores that I seldom think too much about, those things we just do because, well, they need to be done. But, it's so different than being at the aspen cove. Of course it is. I need less when I go there. I think differently when I'm standing on a silent mountain. Absolutely. But, maybe that place helps balance me and I should enjoy it for what it is and not become too desperately tied to it. It's a retreat. That's all. And maybe it gives me perspective and an appreciation for what I have, in our town on the western plains. The best of both worlds, for all I know.

I had fallen asleep on the drive home through the Shirley Basin area. The sloping road winding this way and that. Gentle hills with their soothing light green and gray whizzing by in a blur, along with groups of pronghorn families lying down with their legs and hooves tucked under them, like house cats, it all must have lulled me into dreamland. The next thing I know, I woke up, and C has pulled over to the side of the road. Right in the middle of nowhere. He looked at me and said, "There's you're ponies. Go take some pictures." There were half a dozen horses standing around nibbling on grasses, not far from the road, behind barbed wire fences. Eagerly, I jumped out of the car and softly introduced myself to these magnificant steeds, talking in my sing-song way, coaxing them in. They all lined up side by side, inching their way closer and closer to get a better look at me. A snort here, a whinny there, nipping and nudging each other and stomping and pawing and showing their teeth. I love horses more than anything in the whole wide world. And my husband knows this. But, the truth is, I love him more.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Living And Dying On The Sagebrush Plains

On the prairie, what you are left with is the bare truth, the land pared down to the bone, the basic dirt and grass and sky that shape the lives that play out upon it.

- Tom Groneberg, The Secret Life of Cowboys (2003)

In spring, the Greater Sage-Grouse return to the exact same place to dance and flirt and mate. The males show off their pointy tail feathers and their puffed up chests in hopes that a female will look their way. Three times this week I've been out there at the crack of dawn to observe this mating ritual. It is a fascinating strutting festival. The flapping wings, then a "pop" of the bright yellow sacs inflating then deflating in a rhythmic motion that sounds like an extremely loud water balloon swishing around, if you can imagine that.

These charismatic birds are a threatened species, so see them while you can.

Energy development and residential buildings have caused the Greater Sage-Grouse population to decline from 16 million 100 years ago to between 200,00 and 500,000 today.

I live in what is called The Northern Great Plains. Two hundred years ago Bison roamed the land that I gently walk upon today. I see antelope by the hundreds, prairie dogs, elk, deer, coyote, and horny toad lizards. There is joy in seeing prairie falcons and the mountain plover. Wait. Could that be a Black-footed ferret? I hope it is. Have you ever seen a leggy black wolf run like the wind through a sloping meadow? I have. Just yesterday I counted five meadowlarks and three red tailed hawks. We all share this land together. It is rich in native grasses and wildflowers. It is rich in life. Everything out here matters.

When the sun rose high, the Sage-grouse flew away. I watched them until they were out of sight, then I closed my eyes.

“I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.” ― Terry Tempest Williams

I wasn't ready to leave yet. I was drinking in the landscape. My eyes saw nothing but colors of honey and silvery blue in the pale light as I drifted toward a lone tree on the edge of the sage flats. And there it was. The dead horse. It was just lying there, torn apart by wild things that prowl in the night. No, it's not a wild horse. It was somebody's pet. From a nearby ranch perhaps. It must have gotten loose and then hit by a car and this is as far as she got. Or, maybe she was unwanted. Whatever the story, it made me sad. I looked closely at this bay mare. Her black tail disintegrating and her hooves resting in the dirt.

And then again, I prayed to the wind and sky. I pray to understand.

Only a few yards from the forgotten one, I stumbled upon the sun bleached bones of an Elk. Native Americans would use the remains, these bones, to make weapons or tools. I claimed one beautiful piece of vertebrae for myself. Not for anything useful, but for remembrance of this day. My souvenir.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just Me And The Antelope

I like to think of landscape not as a fixed placed but as a path that is unwinding before my eyes, under my feet.

- Gretel Ehrlich