Ode to Spring (and Wolves)

POSTED IN | 11:15 PM
If you've spent most of your life in a temperate climate, the shock of a more extreme clime can remain one that doesn't quickly fade.

Thus has been this Okie's winter experience on the high, 4,800 ft. elevation plains of Wyoming these past months.

I apologize if these posts grab you as patently dud, but the weather is ALWAYS a topic of conversation in smalltown America, even for the saltiest of Wyo natives.

In other tidings, this week's headlines featured a big news story (broken by the venerable Douglas Budget, of course) about the first incidence of livestock being killed by wolves in the county since the earlier 1900s. The wolves were killed out in the '30s in Wyo but were reintroduced to the state some 400 miles from here in Yellowstone in the mid-90s. The Wolf honchos say there are about 300 wolves in the state now, with about 200 of the howlers living OUTSIDE the Park.

This is a very controversial issue as wolves are generally thought of as bad juju for the livestock livelihood and were killed off for a reason by the ranchers back in Tiggety-Two.

At any rate, I find it personally interesting that most of my adolescent life growing up in Oklahoma was spent in a moderate to strong fear, however irrational, of bears and big-toothed attack creatures. Obviously the Sooner State has none of these beasts, adding to the irrationality of my phobia all the more.

But the coincidence is not lost that now I've purposefully moved to a place where both BEARS and WOLVES reside, albeit in mostly minimal numbers.

I've got whole new volumes of content to bring up in my counseling sessions now, let me tell you. Where to start...

So, my two bits about wolves.

Also, I lied about it never snowing again, or rather the pundits did. We got another six inches last week.

Death and taxes, friends. Still life's only constants, especially in the month of April. Only the fool, I'm learning, builds his house upon the forecasting sands of the Wyoming springtime.

Here's to more snow, Mammy.

Last Friday morning on Fifth Street, headed to work.

My parking spot.


Country Roads

POSTED IN | 12:22 AM
Jerry Seinfeld once quipped a phrase that I've related to many times since being in Wyoming.

"Where does a park ranger go to 'get away from it all'," he joked.

When you live in the country already, a quick half-mile drive will get you even more definitively out of town. This winter, when the cabin fever demons have struck and the roads have been passable, I did some local sightseeing.

These were taken a few miles outside of Douglas on county roads. Pretty choice scenery, Mammy. Thankfully the ultra-sparse traffic makes in-motion shots even less hazardous.

Thus, Converse County on a crisp April day.


New hoofs for a new season

POSTED IN | 11:37 PM

Behold the stud, who thinks he's God's gift to female-horse kind.

Cud-chewing peanut gallery.

Stick a fork in her, Betty! Wide load! Any day now till she pops out a bambino.

The moo-moo stink-eye. "You wanna start something, humanoid?"

Equine Narcissus.

Shadow munch.

Behold, the new hooves! Lil' baby colt, just a few days old. Amazing these guys can run around like champs only 20 minutes out-tha' womb. They don't even ask for college money neither.

"Mom, who's that weirdo human with the camera?..."
"Just stay calm, son. Humans are dumb animals. He can't see us if we don't move..."

Trotting lessons.

Douglas Park Cemetery

POSTED IN | 12:25 AM
The pundits say the winter snows are over. Just have a "feeling" in their bones. Or something. Whatever climatic juju they're smoking, I hope they're right. I'm ready for this season to be over. Holy Moses.

Though I've realized it's not so much the cold that I dislike, but what it does to people. Like the venerable grizzly, folks get a bit cranky and head for their dens about the time snowflake No. 1 falls to the autumn ground. Everybody folds his wings neatly and coops up for the winter. Physically and socially too, from what I gather. I've often felt like the only one even occasionally walking the town streets these winter months. Kind of a bummer when people seemingly pack up shop from fall till spring, and only return to normal life post-thaw. A Van Winkle-esque maneuver, if only in miniature duration.

There's really something different about northern folks and how their winters affect them. The southerners of our country really seem to be less hibernation prone, from my observations. Not that I'd be different over time, necessarily. But still kind of a downer, to the idle observer/pedestrian appreciator.

I've come to the personal conclusion that unless you can regularly take advantage of the cold (skiing, snow shoeing, sledding, etc.), it's not really worth it. The advent of USING the cold instead of just BEARING it is one I like a lot more. Perhaps I'll someday get to test my theory. For now you'll have to trust me...

At any rate, a recent traipse in said wintry biznass left me with some snowified versions of one of my fav Douglas locations. The cemetery. Perhaps this is strange, but I often jog/walk through there (when it's warmer, of course).

Powerfully peaceful place though...

Sand people walk in single file to hide their numbers...

Evergreen sandwich.

Doe(s) a deer...

Mystery marks. Yeti?!

Animal crossing.

Five o'clock shadows.

Bare barked.

Radar-equipped neighbors.

The Urban disconnect


The observation isn't lost, that upon my moving to Wyoming, I did inherently step into what can only be regarded as a ranching community. While there does exist a fair number of respectable "city folk" in this small outpost, who aren't as inclined to the trade, by and large the dominant tone is one of animal husbandry.

Never before have I heard more conversations centering on, whirling around and peppered with the simple revelries and often hardships of raising animals, usually as means of one's lifestyle.

In short I have to say I like it. Coming from a pet-saturated background myself, the advent of having one if not numerous animals in or around my home growing up was common hat.

My dad used to say that everybody should raise animals of some kind, or be exposed to the process on some level. He said it taught character and responsibility, and lent a person to developing discernment for another's needs, even if that "other" rests of four legs instead of two.

I find I agree with my dad more and more, especially in light of my animal-dense encounters on the high plains of the Equality State.

What strikes me as most beneficial here is people's connection to the natural world. Most of these folks aren't flashy. They work hard on their ranches, they love their families and their animals, and they keep it simple. Not dumb. Just simple. Many are completely self sufficient, growing their own meat and vegetables, making their own cheeses and soaps and truly living off their sage brush lands. I find this very, very nifty.

This lifestyle does much to answer some of life's prevailing questions that are more and more stampeding to the forefront of a global modernized life (i.e. where the heck does my food come from? what the hay is in it? what in tarnations did i have to do to get it?, etc...)

For many Wyomingites their way of life is bound tightly to the thriving of their herds, whether cloven or shod. In recent snow storms (like the one today that has all roads in or out of town closed), there have been a number of calves perish, as is always the case in cow calving season. This type of weather is stressful on the animals and subsequently the ranchers. In chatting with folks around town and church you can tell it wears on them. Even the loss of one infant animal. You can tangibly see nature affecting their everyday lives.

Where do you see such natural connectivity in the urban lifestyle? I'll say it doesn't exist in nearly as potent a draught.

And I will make the statement that I think animals give back nearly equally what they take. Not necessarily in economic or readily quantifiable terms but in quality of life and therapeutic restoration.

I have a rancher friend here (see photos of animals below) who told me horses are "healers." This friend has several bodily ailments and with a honest face told me that if "touched" correctly, equines have the ability to remove pain from the human body. She's worked with horses for 50 years and knows them better than anyone I've ever met. How can you argue with that? I don't understand it, but I'm inclined to believe her...

So, in these musings I'll say I miss my own animals. The "girls" back home in OK (see photos). And I don't think I'm close to selling everything I have and joining the cowpoke ranks, but they make a convincing argument with their lives and their land-based connectivity. Plum diggety.

Abby fetching.


Molly prance.

Pooch's bliss.

Truly a long face.

Sunshine down on me

POSTED IN | 11:53 PM

March bids farewell.

...and you are what you eat...

el final.