September 5, 2014
The high country fades first.
The grasses on Pole Mountain turn to yellows, reds and browns.
Now the cold, wet autumn approaches.
Wool sweaters and down jackets and I even pulled out the long johns one day last week. My fingers don’t work as well in the damp afternoons and I remain huddled longer and closer cooking over the old wood cook stove.
The aspen leaves tilt and some turn. It’s happening. I’m ready. Though all I have wanted to accomplish this season remains pending. Time enough. To rush, push, get it done, and yet I know what this season does to me. Sets me stirring. Like leaves in the wind or cold silver waters after a fresh rain. To be out there, breathing, feeling, sharp sensed, wild like a deer, uncontained… Running in the woods and riding the high country when staying home, remaining focused, keep grounded, containment becomes closer to impossible… most years. Maybe not this one.
For now I want to be right here, where I am, doing what I’m doing. Today. Tomorrow is something else.
Maybe tomorrow, for today my hands are full.
Simple living isn’t simply living. There’s work to be done. Beyond hauling water and splitting wood, though those things must be done too. Days are full. Between building, books and guest ranch business. Cooking, cleaning, lighting candles, heating water in which to wash. Writing words, peeling logs, gathering eggs, shoeing horses, hanging laundry on the line in between storms, figuring out what to feed the boys, and chasing the goose out of the road as another visitor drives away. Would I want it any other way? Well, sometimes, yes. Indoor plumbing would top my list right about now.
Building. Two more months until snowfly will more than likely shut us down for the season. Not to say there won’t be snow before then. Next week may bring the first of it. I envision us shoveling off the work site, sweeping off our logs, working in heavy boots and thick gloves, watching our breath rise with the rising walls. Soon.
As the mountain releases, so do I. The slow, certain exhale to dormancy. The big sigh of relief. For years I attributed this to making it through another season without losing a client. I mean really losing. As in, loss of life. Injuries, well, that was part of it. You’re in the mountains now. But the pending fear of the big loss was ever present. I lost sleep over it, but never a client. Yes, that was a serious fear for me and a serious consideration in the outfitting business, while my clients would come in complete trust and often ignorance for which I would assume responsibility and risk. Many folks treated a horseback ride in the high country as a walk in the park. For me, it was their life on the back of my horse, which in turn meant their life on my back. I took it seriously. No, I have no intention of ever sharing the crazy stories I could tell of what my clients did, or what we did to them… suffice to say, I took my outfitters oath almost as seriously as a doctor does to her clients. Truth is, I learned from all of them, and loved the opportunity to share my world, my time, my horses, my mountain. And at the end of it, every time, I was glad I was done. Hopefully with great memories, better riders, and a mountain that remained unaffected for all the hours and foot prints, both horse and human, we laid upon her.
Breaking water in the oil change pan outside the cabin that serves as the goose’s pond. Ice most mornings now. I await the honking of the flocks coming down river, congregating on the flats of the reservoir below Ute Creek, hoping some primordial longing to belong will call Rikki. Friends tell me otherwise. Get used to it, they say, you’re stuck with a goose. I still hold hope that nature will prevail. He will want to fly off. I’ll let you know. Yesterday morning was the first time a flock flew over head. He ran to me instead.
Tonight after a dinner at the guest cabins he walks home with me and the wildly barking dog in the light of the moon.
This morning he remains on vigil, looking down at the river. Something in him knows, stirs. The river calls him. Will he follow the primal voice and fly back to where he belongs?
Lessons learned from looking between the horses ears. Because sometimes I see more clearly from there than from between my ears alone.
What next? What today? What lesson do I need to learn? Between my legs or out my kitchen window.
I used to run ‘em in. Made sense when I had twenty, even forty head to get in each day, brush out, pick hooves, saddle and get out on the trail. Now I have seven. Now I can take the time. I am their leader, not their menace.
Sometimes what we’ve been looking for is right there before us. Open your eyes, they remind me.
Between the horses’ ears.
Now back to work.
For those who received a complimentary copy (hard copy or pdf file) of The Last of the Living Blue,… please take a few minutes to write, post and share your review. If you need help learning how and where to post and share, please write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. And for those who have already shared and posted reviews, and those who have written me personally to tell me your thoughts, thank you. Most sincerely.
As for the kind words some of you have shared, I can’t say I don’t need to read those things. I am finding myself horribly insecure with such matters right now. The first book was more personal than I would have liked (thanks to the poking and prodding of my initial editor), and the second came out too soon for me to be able to start selling myself all over again. I am a bit burned out on the whole process. Though not on writing. I am a writer. I am not a salesman.
Now I find myself turning pages back to and through already written words, back to Ginny’s world, the world we shared and lives that tangled and intertwined in the Patagonia winds. This book too shall come. It begins, the time has come. A new birthing. It stirs, awakens, as it was meant to do.
Time for letting the grapes ripen, the wine sweeten, seasons come and go, everything in its time, no matter that I’m as bad as any one for wanting it all yesterday…
Much appreciation and gratitude to Carrie Browne for posting a lovely review of my books on her blog, The Shady Tree. I also enjoy noting the progress Carrie has made on her poetry, photography and blog layout and design. Her blog is a wonderful place to visit. Enjoy!
A return to the approaching autumn.
This morning, the first elk call of the season heard across the mountain above the crazy calls of returning coyote. Tonight, hard rain on the metal roof. And already I wonder when it will turn to the silence of snow.
August 23, 2014
A farewell to summer days.
of the turtle
we withdraw where
in silent spaces
Darkening days we learn
within or is it
beneath the surface
to the cocoon
From which we emerged
Soothed by the sound of rain
the promise of browning grass
as the high country pales and fades
with a wave of returning stillness
as a cloud enwrapping
the veil of early morning
silhouettes of what will be
maybe it is the
winds and waters which
when what I thought
was something more solid
A poem in progress.
Words evolving as we do with life.
Yeah, I know. I could leave it and settle for “good enough.”
But good enough is not good enough.
If you only live once, live as fully as you can. Be the best person you can be. Do the best work you can do, and share the best of yourself.
A good reminder from Mother Teresa: “People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.”
We can’t expect others to be nice, use manners, play fair… All we can do is be the best person we can be.
Learn to trust. Sure, you’ll get burned. Get over it and try again. Practice makes perfect. Not trying gets you no where.
Take the blame if need be – Let someone else be the one to pass it on. Something too heavy for them to carry will only make you stronger.
It’s not just “the new generation.” It’s the old farts, too. And plenty of us finding ourselves in the middle ground.
Oh, the disappointment of human beings. My self included.
Notes to self.
This morning, I thought I’d share them with you.
I have been meaning to share with you my friend, Teri’s blog: http://myeverydayphotos.wordpress.com/
Teri is a talented professional photographer from Washington State’s beautiful Methow Valley. What many of you might be most interested in this. Considering the devastation, sadness, fear and almost a sense of personal violation so many of us here in Colorado experienced over the past years (and presumable in years to come as well) while wildfires rages around us (last year’s Papoose Fire/West Fork Complex Fire is described intimately in The Last of the Living Blue), this year it has been the Methow Valley hit hard. Teri’s words and powerful images tell the story better than I shall try to. If you have a moment, please see Teri’s work here.
August 14, 2014
A Personal Challenge… and a few random thoughts on a rainy day.
This past week brought…
- Rain every day.
- Completion of the first floor walls.
- A bear on our deck.
- Our goose in the air. (I did not specify gracefully…)
At the same time, two dear friends are diagnosed with cancer; a third with pregnancy. The first two I truly believe will bravely battle, eloquently conquer and be triumphant while friends and family grow closer in support. The third, well, the lifetime of an up and down roller-coaster ride of frustration, exhaustion, endurance, sleepless nights and the most intense selflessness, beauty, love, compassion and comprehension one may ever experience that becoming a mother entails (adoptive of course included) … it is just beginning!
Thoughts blur and swirl while looking through streaked glass panes at brown waters swelling down the muddy road. Clothes hung indoors alongside cast iron pans by the wood cook stove to dry while the dog lies right beside it. Sticky, heavy boots left just outside the door. White noise of loud rain pounding on the metal roof does not quite my mind.
I am working on personal improvement. Seems like I always am. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and hopefully a long lifetime to keep me busy. Why would I not want to be the best I can be? Why would I not want to better myself and my world? Seriously, who truly believes “good enough” is good enough? I’ve never strived for mediocrity. I want a great life. And no one can make it that way but… me. One can accept the middle ground if that’s their thing. It’s not mine. I encourage you to not sit back and accept it either.
This is not therapy. That’s a topic I tend to stay away from. Today can be scary enough! Looking back, figuring out the reasons why… maybe some day… but today, my hands are full.
We all can blame someone else for our own misery, lack of love, lack of success, (fill in the blank), because surely it’s not MY fault.
Except, sometimes it is. And that sometimes might just be now.
When we start to accept responsibility for ourselves and our actions and our lives, we can begin to make changes.
Life is all about change.
So… with this in mind, I present to you one simple step towards self improvement:
The Thirty Day Internet Limit Trial
For the next thirty days, we have committed to the following:
- One ten minute e-mail/internet check before exercises, cooking and breakfast.
- One five minute check after cleaning up.
- One ten minute check at lunch break.
- One ten minute check after work.
- A little more time to surf the web, do research, check weather, touch base on social media, whatever… after dinner. (See, we eat so late, this won’t last too long for me, as I’m ready for bed right after we eat!)
Still sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
I justify this much as we have no phone service, so this is a reasonable compromise which allow us to keep in touch, run our business, do our work, and do all those fun things we’ve learned to love – and can’t seem to live without – on the internet, without it ruling our lives.
See, I swear we got to the point where the computer was always open just in case some important news came in and surfing social media became a brainless break for the boys no better than TV (which Forrest never had, and Bob had to give up when he married me). It became a crutch, and a waste of time at best. At worst, something which made us emotionally distraught (well, that might just be me…).
Maybe it’s worse for many. The folks texting during meals, posting what they eat for all to see, and interrupting face-to-face conversations because they are or the matter is so important they just have to respond now. We’re not that bad, but worse than I’d like to be. Maybe you do worse, and maybe you don’t care. We do, and we’re doing something about it.
Thought I’d share this with you for two reasons. First, because those of you who might just realize you have a problem, you might just want to do something about it, too. Go ahead. Try it. Just for thirty days. See if you survive!
I’m also telling you this too to give you fair warning: you may not get an instant response from me if you write. You probably won’t see much from me on Facebook unless I’m sharing book news or business. I’ll only be blogging once a week – which is about what I’ve managed to reduce my blogging to now a days anyway. (Instead I make my posts looooooonnnnng. Go figure.)
So, today begins the trial. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping it may help in two ways – mental peace and more time to do more positive things. As an added bonus, maybe it will also improve communications, team work, and productivity as my husband and son are joining me.
Want to give it a try?
In the meanwhile… life goes on… back on the ranch… back to the mountain.
The rains bring on the change of season, heavy and thick it hangs in the air with clouds lingering on her side like little children clinging for comfort.
Arousing the state of dormancy.
One season begins to bow. Another approaches. Anticipation as the land tires and leaves fade and summer sounds are washed away in the steady rains. Mushrooms flourish in withering land and light. And I wonder what the tree squirrel will eat this winter without a pine cone in sight. Such are the things which trouble me.
She begins her long slow deep exhale
And with her, I breathe in unison.
I need to remember this one, as I have believed it but thought perhaps I was wrong:
Wendell Berry: “I’ve known writers — I think it’s true also of other artists — who thought that you had to put your art before everything. But if you have a marriage and a family and a farm, you’re just going to find that you can’t always put your art first, and moreover that you shouldn’t. There are a number of things more important than your art. It’s wrong to favor it over your family, or over your place, or over your animals.”
What a wonderful word. Eco-biography.
Think about it. Hold it in your hand, roll it around in your mouth, savor it.
A story about person and place, and the intimate intertwining of the two.
Author, farmer and activist Kayann Short coined the term. In her review of The Last of Living Blue on her blog, Kayann honored my work with this term. Ecobiography. A phrase I am honored to write about; a new genre I am proud to be a part of.
It’s about slowing down… I enjoyed the opportunity to write a guest post for fellow author/blogger C.M. Mayo (for those who saw this, you’ll note I didn’t get it right the first time, but just one more excuse to keep on writing! I finally got it, and Madam Mayo posted this on her blog last week. I hope you enjoy.
That’s all she wrote this week. Until next time…
And don’t forget to consider giving it a try… Stay away from the darned internet, and see what happens…