Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Tumbleweeds That Make The Winds

 For the past couple of weeks I have been both wondering what to rename my blog and lacking in imagination as to an appropriate name...........
 My Mountain Boy, my Jamie dog and I drove out to the small rental house this afternoon.
I was determined to organize some things and make some room in the house from front to back, before I opened even one more box or plastic storage container.
We needed some room to move.
At the same time my dog was getting antsy to walk, and so was I, and as we drove out to the house I decided that I would walk and wander with my girl on the quiet gravel country road before I got down to business.
As we drove into the yard I looked to the side of the driveway and on the ground saw a green fleece sweater that I recognized as being mine.
My first thought was that the wayward fleece had gotten separated from our belongings in the chaos of the move.
But as we drove further into the driveway I found my answer.
As I have been unpacking containers I have been stacking them on the front porch - a temporary stop before they found their more-or-less-for-now-permanent home in a shed.
One of the containers had blown off the porch in the strong winds, emptied its contents into the dusty dirt and the green fleece had gotten caught up in the wind. 
After grabbing everything laying on the ground, shaking off the dust, securing the container and then more safely storing it under the front porch I realized that James and I would not be going for a walk today.
It was far too windy.
Many parts of Wyoming, including this part, are well known for high winds and even stronger gusts.
30-40 mile per hour sustained winds are not uncommon.  Neither are 50-60 mile per hour gusts.
And today was one of those days.
Very very very windy.
I have heard amazing stories of even stronger winds in Clark, located not far from here.
Roofs torn off.  Poles broken. 
Is it even possible for wind to roll up a paved road?  I do not know but that is the story I have heard........
Regardless Clark is notorious locally for having extremely strong winds.
This is high plains country, and there is a lot of wide open country.
Views that go on forever, and often nothing to slow the wind........  

 We have had some windy days since arriving in Cody.
Actually, each day seems to change frequently - moving from still to windy, from sunny to cloudy very quickly.
From windy during the day to inevitable calm every single evening.
Today was the most windy day we have experienced since arriving in Cody now a whole two and a half weeks ago.
While working in the house today I wondered how the wind would affect the house, how noisy it would be, and whether such strong weather would bother James.
We did not walk today, but after wandering around the house for a few minutes Jamie very quickly found a comfortable corner of the couch, walked in circles on the cushion for a few moments, plopped down, curled up and fell asleep.
OK - no worries there.......
The wind shook the windows ever so slightly.
But they also......sang to us.
Quietly - the noise of the strong winds buffered by the walls of the house............
 Stolen from a message board poster by the screen name of RockyMtnr..........
Not too many folks understand that the entire West is windy - with some exception given to the coast ... which may or may not be windy but which is dependent on different circumstances.
In the Intermountain areas - i.e., those parts of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado ... some of New Mexico and Arizona ... the wind patterns are tied directly to the migration habits of the Tumbleweed. While this event is more visible in Nevada than in any of the other states, when the Tumbleweeds make their twice-yearly march, you can see them lined up by the hundreds and even thousands ... all attacking the hopping of fencelines together - acting as stairs and ladders for each other and even tossing each other over the fencelines to continue their journey(s). The cloud that often appears over the largest of the migration herds is enough to trigger "shadow-winds" which are derived from cloud patterns and whose signal triggers the release of more winds over long periods of time in the Intermountain area.
In the old days, the government used to hire "Tumbleweed-Boys" to ride those ranges and help herd the Tumbleweeds into travelling patterns that were more agreeable with shadowwind-mathematics - but the sheer "renegade" manner practiced by many clans of Tumbleweeds caused excessively long days and nights trying to keep the herds contained and so, the project had to be abandoned. Not that the practice ever really made a definitive dent in the winds - in fact - some differences were truly negligible but today, those Tumbleweeds continue to roam, unchecked - much like the wild horses of the region although even the horses are now cultivated and thinned while the "weeds" continue to bandy together for meetings and shows.
On a dark, camped-out night ... take care during your moonlight excursions that you do not come across the "Sergeant-of-Arms" of the herds - the "Tumbleweeds Enforcers" - it is not always a clearly understood confrontation.
So, there you have it - it's the Tumbleweeds that make the wind - and the wind, in turn makes it easier for the Tumbleweeds to travel, which makes more wind ... and the circle continues.
Ah, the West!
 You cannot see it in this picture I took today but the wind blows so strongly and so consistently that many times the trees bend and grow with the wind.........
 These pictures were taken in a western inspired gift shop adjacent to a gun shop.
We have visited every gun shop in town and LC is liking what he is seeing.
A lot of guns, good prices, adequate amounts of ammunition, friendly and welcoming and conservative people who smile and mean it, and who speak without the need for interpretation of motives.
The adjoining shop was gorgeous - many beautiful western gifts...........
 Pictures taken outside a gun and pawn shop downtown and close to the Irma Hotel..........
 On the way back into town this afternoon, and only a few minutes from the house we are renting, we came across this horse wandering along the road.
When we first saw him he was grazing alongside the road before taking off in a trot..........
 A minute later he stopped to turn and look at us, and stayed there until his owner drove up to corral and help him find his way home again...........

For the second night in a row we have seen deer in the yard at the cottage we are renting in town.
Last night we saw one.
And just a few minutes ago we saw two together - siblings - grooming each others neck, walking around the yard, aware of LC and I standing by the door watching them but not alarmed by our presence.
They are beautiful to watch, and having so many of them traveling day and night unemcumbered in town is a charming and wonderful thing...........

LC came up with the new name for my blog.
It works and is appropriate for the new place we are now living.
Wyoming Wind Songs............

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This Land Is His

It only snowed heavily for a few minutes on the outskirts of town yesterday.
But it snowed a lot in the mountains.
I did not realize just how much it had snowed until we walked out of the rental cottage early into the evening yesterday.
As we were walking to the truck I looked towards the mountains that can be seen at the end of the road, something that is quickly becoming a habit, and I was stunned to see this...........
The next morning we took yet one more cruise - first to the dead end road close to the hospital, the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Buffalo Bill statue, a view of Heart Mountain and other mountains that circle the town of Cody........
This Land Is His

It’s easiest to recognize the beauties of this land
When ridin’ solo in the hills ‘mid tumbleweeds and sand.
A cowboy’s view from top his saddle stretches far and wide;
Vast panoramic sights of splendor span from side to side.
There’s time to think, and time to plan, and time to dream a dream.
‘Tis on such rides a tiny seed becomes a full-blown scheme.
Most cowhands think of what could be and this man was the same;
He hoped to one day buy some ground, yes, own it in his name.
He recognized the majesty, the grandeur of the land,
Acknowledgin’ the glory of the Master’s mighty hand.
He knew the form of Indian Butte and rode its highest crest;
And he could find the tallest pine, knew where the eagles nest.
He knew the trails and where they led, each path he knew by heart;
He knew where streams ran cool and clear, and where they split apart.
He’d rise up early just to catch the sun’s first rays of light;
He’d listen for the sound of geese that sang while in mid flight.
He heard the music nature played—the gentle fall of rain,
The Mournin’ Dove, the gustin’ wind o’er rocky desert plain.
This land was his! He worked for it and paid with sweat and tears.
He plowed the soil and planted crops—improved it o’er the years.
He raised some cattle on that ground and built a cabin there,
And hoped that someday down the line he’d leave it to his heir.
But urban sprawl has pushed him out and changed life in the wild;
What legacy will there remain to pass on to his child?
Yes, times have changed, and progress says he can’t go back again.
Now he is left with nuthin’ more than tales of “Way back when…”
Folks see him as an oddity; his dreams all went astray—
The way he lives, the things he loves, they have no place today.
He can’t forsake his hopes and dreams as long as he has breath;
No, nuthin’ can deter his dream except the stroke of death.
It seems his time is comin’ fast; the end is drawin’ nigh—
He recollects far distant times and breathes a heavy sigh.
‘Twas diff’rent than he thought it’d be when night came closin’ in;
A pocket watch and old guitar, that’s all he left his kin.
He loved the land with all his heart ‘though his had dwindled down.
And what remained? A rented shack, there on the edge of town.
But they can’t take away the land he’ll use for his last sleep;
A bit of God’s own precious earth—three wide and six feet deep.
That land is his; he worked for it, and paid with sweat and tears—
A narrow plot is all he owns, but his throughout the years......
                                           Bobbie Hunter©2009

And then we again traveled out towards South Fork that is quickly becoming a favorite area of ours....... 
Buffalo Bill Reservoir is also becoming a favorite.
It is quiet and very beautiful, and has views of the mountains and water that inspire and calm.
I can easily see me kayaking in this place while LC is fishing.
We realized today that this may be a bird hatching area.  We saw many geese and many ducks on the small islands in the lake.
Once in a great while we have seen people fishing here, but more often than not the place provides beautiful and quiet solitude.
At least at this time of year.............
I am ready for more color.
I am ready for everything that is brown to become green.
A few pictures inside the restaurant of the historic Irma Hotel in downtown Cody.
The entire hotel has the air of old, plush and well-to-do.
It is a beautiful place, filled with antler chandeliers and animal heads and burgundy carpeting and chairs and dark wooden furniture and elegant crystal chandeliers and huge local oil paintings and old photographs of Buffalo Bill Cody.
We decided to eat lunch there this afternoon and I was surprised to be able to enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet for $7.99.
After the initial sticker shock and then resignation of expense in Juneau, I was delighted at the novelty of paying so little for so much..........
One last quiet picture at the lake............

Sheet Music Of The Winds

My Mountain Boy and I have spent the past couple of days very busy with details.
Details involved in starting a new life.
I look at LC sometimes and guiltily realize that I have not made life easy for him this past 14 months.
Juneau was hard on his hard-living body.  Hard on his head.   Hard on his emotions.  Hard on his wallet.
He is 12 years older than me and as much as I yearn for quiet and peace, I know that he yearns for the same thing.
He hasn't had that for a while now.
I don't take ownership for the fact that Juneau (the job and the people, not the place) was not what was presented to me when I made the decision to move there.
But that does not prevent the guilt - knowing how challenging my decision to accept a position in Juneau turned out to be on someone who deserves so much better.
He understands and lovingly accepts, and we are continuing to forge ahead.
Setting up bank accounts and changing addresses and getting our taxes done and setting up utilities and buying home items to replace what we had to leave back in Juneau or even further back in Tennessee.
Trying to catch family and friends up on where we are and hoping that the US Postal Service can keep up with our address.
Before we left Juneau we submitted a change of address to the home of LC's brother in Minnesota because we had no idea where we would end up when we boarded the ferry on that cold Tuesday afternoon.
Another change of address submitted recently for here in Cody because it looks while we may be planted in one place for a while. 
And hopefully the USPS can keep up with us.........

This picture is actually an oil painting seen on the wall of a local bank.
I snapped it after spending an inordinate amount of time with a new bank employee setting up bank accounts...........
Metal sculptures in the parking lot of the bank.
There are many of these located all over town.
Most are not of the same exceptional and beautiful calibre as those seen outside the art gallery that I photographed last week, but they are lovely none-the-less.
They are all of elk and bear and mountain goats, and I love them............
We now live in high plains desert.
With mountains surrounding us in all directions.
And as such the weather is extremely variable.
The pictures of the antelope and sheep statues above were taken outside the bank, and five minutes later and only a mile down the road we were greeted with heavy wet snow, that did not stick to the ground because of the mild temperatures we have had recently...........
We had pulled the truck into one more parking lot because our whining dog needed to do what dogs who have been stuck in the back of a truck for too long need to do.
Five more minutes down the road towards an area LC and I are both beginning to love (South Fork - a community just south west of town) it had not snowed at all...........
Buffalo Bill Reservoir in the South Fork area..........
The clouds in the mountains in Cody remind me of the clouds in the mountains in Juneau.
I was compelled by the water and the mountains and the cloudy skies to stop and take these pictures.
Those mountains eventually lead into Yellowstone, which has received much much snow this year.
Looking at those mountains I knew that it was snowing out there yet again..........
LC and James patiently waiting for me to "take the damn picture already........"
Before we travelled down from Montana we rented a furnished cottage for a month figuring it would give us a chance to look around in comfortable surroundings.
We found a decent house to rent much sooner than we expected - small, reasonable price, four miles outside of town in farm country, so in effect can move in at any time.
We have this cottage until the 12th of April though, so.......sometime this week.......we will make the final move into the house..........but no rush.......
More pictures of mountains becoming increasingly obscured in cloud and fog.........
On the spur of the moment we veered off the highway and took an up-til-now previously unexplored side road.
Just to see where it led.............
Surprisingly and delightfully it led to Buffalo Bill State Park.
We did not see much of it but will make a point of exploring more another day.  I could easily picture kayaking here...........
Homes on the outskirts of the park...........
A pooch sitting at attention guarding his property caught my attention as we headed back towards the highway.
When I climbed out of the truck I caught HIS attention, and put the spunky little guy on alert...........
Some random thoughts:

I am out of shape and the workouts at the gym are helping.  My muscles are sore and it feels good.....
We are still moving too fast, trying to do too much, not relaxing the way we promised ourselves we would.........

I am looking forward to walking and bike riding outside.  Driving with LC is great and enjoyable and fun, but I want to slow down some more, burn some more calories, burn some more mental energy, not be in a rush to take pictures, spend more time by myself.........
Once we get settled into the house we will take some time to see other places in the region - parts of Montana and Colorado and Utah and Idaho.
Just because we can.
Just because we owe it to ourselves to be certain that Wyoming is right.
We'll make the drive and do some exploring.......but the more we talk to people here the more that Cody Wyoming feels right.
One thing I did learn in Juneau though is that if you have to work SO hard to make things's really not right.
We are working through a lot of details to get set up again right now, but I don't feel as though I am tying myself in knots to MAKE it work.  To make it fit...........

Who publishes the sheet-music of the winds or the music of water written in river-lines?......John Muir