Sunday, September 23, 2012

Surrounded By Gold

The Aspen Cove was electric over the weekend! It had been far too long since we were there last, so Friday afternoon we threw some things into backpacks and three hours later, found ourselves grinning at each other across the table inside the Silver Bullet.

Up at dawn with the birds, I begin the coffee ritual along with a few sun salutations. C loves my coffee. He's got his own ritual and that is sipping his cup of joe way up high on top of an enormous rock, with an enormous view. I let him know I'm going for a coffee walk, to look for feathers under the pine trees. I'm gone two minutes and promptly come back wielding a long black feather a raven has left me. I'm beaming, singing, 'looooook whaaaaat iiiiii fouuuunnd'. C smiles, nodding his approval at how good I am at finding animal gifts.

A black bear left me a present too. Just a few yards from the trailer I found a nice pile of berry laden scat. Crazy, I know, but THAT makes me happy too! The more wild animals roam my land the happier I am.

Gifts of nature were abundant this glorious weekend. Aspen trees in Colorado are unique as their leaves shimmer and shake with the glow of neon. I counted at least four shades of yellow dominating the groves with bits of orange and red. Driving home along the Rawah Wilderness was spectacular. This season is pure magic, wouldn't you agree?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Back Porch Pickin' ... My Dad And My Brother Glenn

Last year my dad quit playing his guitar after seventy years. (he's 91) That guitar now sits in my house. A few weeks ago, my brother bought Dad a new one, a beauty at that. He's playing it here, sounding better than ever! Seems to me they both knew Guitar Whitey was just taking a long intermission! This is so special. I hope you all enjoy it!

Filmed on the back porch In San Luis Obispo, CA. by Tami L. (Glenn's girlfriend)
Poster created and designed by Tami, with love.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wild And Free And Then They're Not

I first laid eyes on them earlier this summer. There were three of them. Spanish mustangs living wild and free in the Arrowhead Mountains. There were many more that I didn't see, but I know for sure the proud stallions and mares, the bachelors and precocious colts were out there kicking up their heels or grazing in the high meadows. I was so excited taking pictures of these beauties that day and had a good feeling in my heart that they were protected and their legend lives on. I returned home and weeks passed and I couldn't stop thinking about the wild ones with the distinct coats of sorrel, dun, palomino and the gray grulla.

Then I started reading newspaper articles about the government roundup that was about to take place. They had their eye on 38 horses to bait and trap. At least they weren't using helicopters this time, to chase them down. They used salt blocks, hay and water to lure them in. Within weeks the horses were rounded up and corralled, fed and freeze branded, getting primed for their adoption.

I felt a connection to these horses and the canyons and valleys that they call home. I was sad and mad that it was going to be taken away from them. I thought about the bonds and friendships they made with the other bands of flying manes. I knew I had to be at that wild horse auction to see them one more time. I was also curious about how the whole thing worked and who would be taking home these horses with special bloodlines. I wouldn't be one of the fortunate ones because, well, one needs a pasture, and I've got a small courtyard and no barn. Not that I didn't think about bringing one home. My husband knows, it would be just like me to do just that! Anyway, I promised him I wouldn't.

The adoption took place at Britton Springs, a pretty spot just southwest of the Wild Horse Range. I wore my fancy cowboy boots and carried three cameras, a journal and a pen. I felt like Harriet the spy, taking notes and listening in on conversations and the serious chatter of who that horse is, or who his father was, what band she belonged to and all kinds of knowledgeable talk about the markings and health of a certain horse. It was obvious that a lot of folks were connected to these horses in ways I never knew. I wasn't the only one with a soft heart for the Pryor mustangs.

A couple of hours before the auction began, there was a demonstration on "gentle ing" a wild horse. This cowboy, a sort of "horse whisperer" if you will, showed a group of prospective adopters some valuable techniques on taming and handling their horse. He was calm and diligent and gentle. He spoke softly and was a patient man. It was fascinating! What a great idea to include a clinic of instruction to this program. I wondered if this was the usual procedure at other wild horse adoptions in other states? All I know is this guy was good at what he did. In two hours, that horse went from being scared and shying away from every little thing to being relaxed and somewhat accepting and letting this horseman stand beside him and stroke his neck. All done without harsh or cruel treatment, as it should be.

And the bidding begins. The minimum bid is $125. Most of the horses went for just that. Some went for between $250 and $700. There were mares and their foals, and one mama and babe went for $2,300. It surprised me that the majority of bids were so low, considering that these are famous and stunning Spanish Mustangs, afterall! They are WILD and they are disappearing from the American West.

I'm happy to announce that every one was adopted and am confident that they all went to good homes. But, I left that afternoon with mixed feelings. During my drive back home, my head was filled with images of all the horses and what they were going through. The way they stormed around the unfamiliar iron corrals, the unusual sounds of metal gates opening and closing, human voices, loudspeakers, camera crews. How confusing it must have been, what a strange and unfamiliar land they were forced into. How Madison will never see her mother again, and all the others taken from their families. I try to understand and accept that the BLM is doing their best in managing the number of wild horses in the Pryor mountain range. I was impressed with the BLM employees that I met at Britton Springs. They are kind and caring, and I know they are just doing their job. They are taking orders from our Governer, who only cares about fracking and money. Jarod is a fine horseman who cares about these animals, and took a personal concern in how to handle the roundup. Personally, I think they are removing them unnecessarily. And I'm against them sterilizing and using birth control. Congress gave them that land a long time ago, to roam free. We should let them.

In the meantime, you can be sure I will return to the place where the wild ones "drink the wind". I will continue to follow the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses and their story, keep an eye out and make sure the ones that remain are protected from harm and capture in the future. One can only hope.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Honorable Order Of Squirrels

Yesterday I received my Squirrel card. I climbed 10,710 feet to get it. The Deadman Lookout Station sits up high in the Roosevelt National Forest, and was used to guard against wild fires. It was first built of wood by the CCC in 1939. It was torn down in 1962 and replaced by this one. From the 55 foot metal tower you can see Rocky Mountain National Park to the south, Bald Mountain to the north, the Snowy Range, Medicine Bow and with binoculars, our house in Wyoming! Well, I THOUGHT I could see it.

I've always had an interest in fire lookouts. Most of the ones I've visited have been boarded up or just not officially being used anymore. Whether or not you can step inside one, the views from the platform are guaranteed to take your breath away. A volunteer was spending the Labor Day weekend in the Deadman lookout. It had been his fifth year on duty. He was knowledgable and patient, answering all my questions, showing us maps and instruments and sharing stories of all he sees from way up there. Just that morning, in the meadow down below, he had spotted a mama moose and her cinnamon babe. It is hunting season, so the Elk were in hiding.

The clouds in the distance were dark and rumbling. Lightning strikes the tower on occasion, but of course it's grounded, safe from danger. Even the bed in the cabin is grounded. I wondered what it would be like to spend a night in that tower. What I would see in that enormous sky in every direction, and what the early mornings are like. Peaceful, a little breezy, and a lot to see. I'm applying to volunteer there for next summer. For one day. To experience for myself, what it's like to spend the night at the Deadman Lookout. And once the visitor's conquer the windy and narrow catwalk to the top, I'd be more than happy to issue them their very own Squirrel card, as they promise to use the utmost CARE WITH FIRE IN THE WOODS. I'd like to know, what fire lookouts have you visited and where?