Ditch Diaries

Week two; Day one.

Back after a break.  Gunnar has healed well.  Still a bit groggy at times, and left with a good scar above his eye which we say gives him even more character.  But he’s good to go and back at his place working with the horses.

Peak season on the mountain, and we need to get away.   We have learned to endure July.  Moods fluctuate with the weather.  July has it all, from heat to hail.  Like ants on a birthday cake. Too many people driving by with blind, blank stares; passer bys who remain unnamed, unknown, unaccountable.  I long for a friendly wave of a vehicle I recognize.  A permanent place in the wind.  A summer neighbor drives up fast and furious behind our full load of horses in the trailer.  The only one rushed on the road.  You can feel the stress from the car back there, too tight on our tail to see the wide places to pass as we pull to the side again and again to let her by.  A rush to get off the mountain, back to work, back to one’s own reality.

My reality is here.  Yes.  It is very, very real.  Though at times, like July, it seems a surreal moving image surrounding me.

I look to the morning frost on pasture and long for winter already.

Be here now.  Riding up the trail. Beyond where most make it in a day.  Higher even than the Aspen grow, delicate silver bark, flesh scratched with initials, scarred by those who come and go and leave nothing better than this behind for a generation to endure.

And then we are there.

I hear the horses heave and sigh and let go with their heads down in the rich high mountain grasses.

Late at night writing by the light of my headlamp.

Crazy the contentment I find here in the tent together with my boys, our dog between us, our horses in the trees just outside.  The occasional stomp of their feet as they shift their weight easily, the snort of their relaxed breath.  They are satisfied, tired, full bellies; they worked hard and well and have earned their rest. I am proud of them.

Crazy the contentment in this 12×12 tent, complete with woodstove on which we cooked elk burgers for dinner.  A nice change from Hamburger Helper.  Life does not get much better than this.

Day two.

Slept until the mountain was light. Gunnar and I get the horses out.  They know the routine and handle with great manners.

Morning work proved other than perfection in paradise, between Norman balking at being out their working alone, and poor communications between the three of us.  It’s bound to happen.  It did.

Lunch in the tent while thunder rumbles across the steel grey sky.

We are damp and chilled and grateful for the woodstove.  I remember July days on the beach, sun and sand and sweat and sundresses in the evening.  I reach for my down jacket and felt hat and check the horses before returning to work.

Day three

Progress is slow.  Perhaps we are out of shape. We would like great transformations.  We would like the whole mile plus of ditch to be as well groomed, just the right slope, clear of vegetation, and solid high bank as the twenty feet we just worked on.  We are down and know it is only up to us to make things better.

We turn to ditch digger humor to lighten our load. How much more down can a ditch digger get?  It’s easy when you start at the top and work your way down.  We do manage to keep each other laughing and really, being out there working with my husband and son, dog and horses, it is easy to rise up again.  It never takes long.  Put down the shovel, slow down the slip, and smile.

A better afternoon.  Norman pulls a mean load, and the three of us get in the groove and get mean with our shovels and picks.  Truly a dirty job.

Day four.

I am up and out earlier than usual, with camera and tripod, to get a shot at a shot at the Rio Grande Pyramid at first light.  Gunnar and I sneak out before coffee and leave the boys to lead the horses out to pasture.

I am rewarded with clouds, color, and a remarkable view, unobstructed and uninterrupted, deep in the Weminuche Wilderness and realize that for now, no doubt, there is no place I would rather be.

Here and now.

9 thoughts on “Ditch Diaries

  1. Your photos are wonderful .After all the hard work I would need two tripods .One for the camera and one for me .Framed your pictures would make a great gallery showing

    • I’m seeing a big improvement with the new camera. (Only half of these were taken with that, and you can tell by quality which ones, I bet). Hopefully some day, Don…

    • saws doing great – as norman most definitely – though have not had time to get to the saw vise project – might end up as an after season project, getting the saws in shape and ready to sing for next season. i’m not going to forget though…

  2. Loving the Ditch Diaries series! Keep up the good work!
    Glad Gunnar is so much better…Cody had a freak tennis ball injury last week and I freaked out because his pupil got tiny and remained that way for a while…Ron reminded my that Gunnar got kicked by a horse and survived so he was quite certain Cody would be okay from the tennis ball! LOL! I was still worried but sure enough a few hours later he was fine but it sure was scary. I figure he had a mild concussion.

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