The Magic of A Wyoming Morning

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 Warmth of the coffee mug clutched tightly in my hands

Contrasts sharply with the chill of the early morning.

Three deer meander through our yard, munching, carefree.

They look my way and go on about their business.

My love joins me.

Together we look across this beloved part of our world Continue reading

Devils Tower, Our First National Monument

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The tower rises majestically some 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River in Northwest Wyoming and is 867 feet from base to summit, with a base circumference of one mile. It is a spectacular sight, rugged, picturesque,  and often used for weddings,  filming, and commercial photography (permits required).

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is the movie that made the tower famous in 1977.  It’s more than a movie to the Indians – to them it is sacred and they ask that people voluntarily refrain from climbing it during the month of June in order to show respect for the culture of the American Indians since June is a month when many of their ceremonies traditionally occur.

Mis-translation of a word back in 1800 gives it the name, “Bad God’s Tower” which morphed into “Devils Tower,”  the apostrophe being lost due to a clerical error.  Various tribes had many different names for it: Bear Rock, Tree Rock, He Hota Paha, Grizzly Bear Lodge, to name a few.

How it was created gives way to many legends. The Kiowa say that there were seven sisters who ran into a giant bear.  They ran away and jumped on a small stump that quickly grew into the enormous stump we see today in order for the girls to escape.  The girls were whisked up into the sky and became the stars that form our Big Dipper.

Cheyenne legend states that while some of them were traveling to worship the Great Spirit, one of their wives became enamored with a mate-less bear, the men chased the giant bear, it chased them up a huge tree, they killed the bear, the woman turned into a bear and made the huge rock her home.  It became known at the Bear’s Tipi.

My favorite is the story of two young Indian boys who, as young boys will do, got lost.  They walked for days trying to find their way home, to no avail.   Eventually, coming face to face with Mato, a giant bear who shook the very earth with every step he took, they knew they were doomed.  In their struggles to get away, they fell and the earth rose with them on it.  Up, up, up it went to the height the tower is today.  The bear could almost touch the top, but not quite. It clawed viciously all the way around the towering chunk of earth but finally left in frustration.   Wanblee, a great eagle, extended his enormous talons for the boys to grab hold of and he delivered them back to their village, thus giving the boys quite a story to tell their grandchildren.

Geologist tells us that molten rock was forced up between other rock formations, some say it is the tip of an extinct volcano. Others feel the tower was formed underground, uplifted, and erosion formed what we see today.  More recently I’ve heard that it is a petrified tree going back to the time of giants.

Now, I’ll tell you what – I would hate to meet up with a bear the size of which was as tall as the Tower, and I shudder to contemplate the size the people would have been to match their surroundings.  Think how hard it would be to buy clothing!

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The Oregon/California Trail Center

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We went to Montpelier, Idaho yesterday and visited The National Oregon/California Trail Center there.  It has so much to offer!   You can step back in time and visit a gun shop and mercantile, or ride in a covered wagon simulating the rock-n-roll of an actual journey, except it’s done inside in comfort.

It’s hard to  imagine the “luxury” of riding in a wagon across this wonderful chunk of real estate, changing off to walking because it was hard to determine which was the least miserable, stopping at night in the middle of somewhere, taking care of the animals, laundry, fixing meals, tending children, maybe being pregnant, ill, or any number of difficulties that had to be dealt with on the journey.

I applaud our ancestors who braved those trips, giving up all they had, not knowing what lay ahead.  It was a daunting endeavor and many lost their lives doing it, but it was part of settling this country.  We owe them so much!

There is a gift shop, rail exhibit, art gallery,  and murals to enjoy.  Restaurants and motels are nearby.  It’s time well spent.  www.oregontrailcenter.org

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Vernal Equinox or Hello Spring!

This is why 9/12 pitch and 100# snow load is required here. We’re happy to say goodbye to winter!  Our driveway is now almost clear and most of the yard has a foot or less of snow left.    We haven’t had it nearly as bad as some parts of the country, though.  We moved in here April 21, 2007, and it snowed the day before, so we really can’t count on winter being over – I have seen it snow in Wyoming the middle of June!  Seriously.

Local meteorologists say that we received 200 inches of snow this winter, 160 is usual,  however, history shows that we received around 300″ in 2007/2008.

The deer have been hungry the past few months and have feasted on my bushes frequently, especially the Blue Willows.  I hope they survive, but if they don’t that’s okay.  We’re not allowed to feed them, so if my bushes are collateral damage that’s fine.

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The Autumnal Equinox

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The Autumnal Equinox

 

Growing up in Missouri in the fifties we didn’t hear the words Autumnal Equinox much but we were familiar with the fall activities.  Crops were harvested and garden produce canned.  We didn’t have freezers yet, but many vegetables were stored in cellars- right along with a snake or two.  My parents had large gardens as well as apple and peach orchards.  Most of that was sold at our farm as well as designated areas in town for Farmers Markets.

I didn’t experience much of the crop harvests such as wheat, corn, or oats, but Bob did, so I asked him to share his memories with me. A funny one was when he was about 4-5 years old and he wanted to go with his dad when he took the horses out to shuck corn. His dad told him if he went he couldn’t come back until the work was done – and he meant it.  It was quite cold for a little boy and upon returning home he looked at his parents and declared, “You should not have let me went!”

“In the late forties and early fifties most small grain crops were harvested by combines, however a few die-hards still used the grain binder and threshing machine.  I drove the John Deere B pulling a grain binder and Dad sat on the binder keeping watch over its operation.  After binding the yet-to-be-cured grain it was shocked until it had ripened. Then came the excitement of Threshing Day!

“Farmers that we had bound grain for arrived at our farm with their tractors and hay racks to haul the shocks to the threshing machine which had been set in place the day before.  Early that day the Rumley Oil Pull was fired up and the threshing machine came alive with bundles being pitched into the feed platform.  The straw/chaff was separated from the grain and blown out the opposite end of the machine.  When one farm was completed, it was on to the next neighbor’s farm.

“There are still some threshing machines and a binder or two in this valley rusting away,” Bob states.  “They bring back fond memories.”

By the time Bob was in high school they had purchased a ’49 Dodge two-ton truck.  He was suddenly in the trucking business hauling hay, grain, tractors – whatever needed to be hauled.  There was a certain girl that would sometimes ride in that truck when he took wheat into town.  We arrived at the elevators in Walker, Missouri late one day. The men were preparing to close and really didn’t want to unload him, but one of the guys  said, “Look what he’s got with him.  Maybe we’d better.”  They did and we went on our merry way.

 

Bob states that he wouldn’t trade those years on the farm for anything! It established his work ethic for life and he still works as hard as any man I know.  It was a time of rejoicing and being thankful for all they had prepared for the cold winter months ahead.

September 22  is that day when the days and nights are approximately the same length and it happens all over the world at the same time although our clocks will say different things.  It marks the end of the growing cycle (which the Spring Equinox kicks off) and gives us the fall season in all its autumnal splendor for us to enjoy as the birds and butterflies start their migration southward.

Our inward harvest should be rich as well with gratitude for all that we have been given.

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The Imposter

I ran into Tom the other day.  Tom T. Turkey, that is.  (T. for Terrified) Oh, he tried to hide his identity but I’d know that waddle anywhere.  He had on some kind of outfit designed to make him look taller but I could see the stilts inside his pant legs.  Silly bird.

And his ID card!  Did he really, really think he could pass as Paul Bunyan?  8910 North Wood Forest.  Honestly!  Probably should have been something like 123 Turkey Shed Road!  It says he’s Paul Bunyan, Logger.  More like PeeWee Runtyan, Toothpicker, if you ask me.

That red plaid shirt with the scarf wrapped around his neck was effective.  It hid the dreaded “turkey neck” pretty well.   Can’t say much for the beak though.

He was acting awfully weird.  In a fowl mood, too.  Nothing I said cheered him up.  The hens had been pecking at him to lose weight in light of the up-coming holiday, but the chitlin’ scraps had just been too tasty lately.  He said it was a conspiracy!

A car backfired as we were talking and he jumped like he’d been shot.  Very nearly scared the stuffin’ right out of him.

I offered to buy him lunch to boost his spirits – told him the café had a pre-Christmas special that we could gobble down. Oops!  He turned really pale.   I guess it didn’t help when I mentioned giblet gravy.  He took off at a turkey trot!  Touchy little fellow today.

Tom went back to the Bunyan sized woodpile that he had started hiding behind.  But not for long.  I saw him in the hardware store buying a can of blue paint.   What on earth would he want that for?

It’s been a few days since I’ve seen Mr Turkey – er- excuse me – Mr. Bunyan, but I did witness the oddest thing a couple days before Christmas.  There was a strange creature in a red plaid shirt astride a blue ox.  They were scurrying out of town when I heard him whisper “Giddy-up, Babe, Giddy-up!”

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