Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Forever Free

In the hot and dry heat of mid-August in Wyoming our explorations have slowed down recently.
Running has become a hot and burdened and slogging affair but that is always the case during the summer.
My Norwegian blood hungers for colder temperatures that I know will be here soon enough.
But in the meantime Summer is kicking my ass.................

I have been introspective recently.

Email exchanges between me and one of my old adventure racing partners who is based in South Carolina.
He and I began racing at about the same time.
A few years older than me he is not the typical clean-cut, college educated, white collar, 2% body fat bicycle geek kind of guy that dominates the sport - the type that I raced with so many times in the past.
Rather he is a blue collar guy, ex-military, an excellent navigator and strong cyclist who is always a positive force on the trails.
A guy with a full grey beard and long grey hair, who looks and is a tough racer. 
For the past couple of years he raced with the man who died last month, they were good friends, and he feels the loss deeply............

My oldest son who calls me often recently.
My youngest son who does not call................

I was looking through old pictures today and found these of a herd of horses that I came across while running on BLM land.
It was late May.
Maybe even into early June. 
Everything was beginning to come alive again - increasing green, antelope running frequently, snow still in the mountains.
These were not wild horses, but rather belonged to someone who owns land adjoining BLM, and yet they were thinner than I would have expected them to be.
As I ran past them I watched these curious animals closely and enjoyed the sight of them greatly, briefly forgetting the effort I was putting out.
They also watched me closely, visually following me as I passed by.
As I reached the far end of the fence line they as one herd walked towards me.
I stopped to watch them - confident in the fence that separated us and curious to see what the horses would do once they reached the fence. 
Curious to see if they would quickly lose interest in this lone and random sweating woman who passed them.
They walked to the fence line, and then all closed in on each other trying to worm their way into the corner.
Seemingly wanting to get as close to me as they could..............

I had no idea that horses were such curious and intelligent animals.
Two of the horses currently on the property we rent belong to our neighbor, and the other two belong to the owner of the property.
These so very beautiful and completely black stallions used to be part of the wild horse herd located not far from here.
Their names are Smoky and Blackie and even though I resolved to not become attached to them because they are not mine - and I have not - it becomes more difficult the more I see them.
They are both jet black and glisten in the sun.
They love to be petted and gently talked to.
Smoky loves apple slices, but Blackie does not and prefers alfalfa squares.
I watch them sometimes knowing that they once were animals free to roam as they wished wherever they wished.
And now they do not have much room to roam, and do not get the attention that animals should get once humans make them dependant upon them.
They are just very sweet and very beautiful animals...............
This burned out combine and hay bales were seen while visiting the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center over the weekend.
After exploring the war monument dedicated to Japanese American internees who served in the American military during WWII I turned to survey the view behind me.
Heart Mountain as always dominated the scene.
This area is completely surrounded by rich farmland that produces soy beans and corn and many other crops.
During the time of the "Jap Camp" this area started as entirely sage covered and barren land.
The internees cleared the area of sage brush, completed an irrigation project (integral if the land was ever going to produce crops), and then initiated both livestock raising and crop production.................
A closer view of the peak of Heart Mountain.
Something I found on Wikipedia about the mountain:

Heart Mountain is an 8,123-foot (2,476 m) klippe just north of Cody in the U.S. state of Wyoming, sticking up from the floor of the Bighorn Basin. The mountain is composed of limestone and dolomite of Ordovician through Mississippian age (about 500 to 350 million years old), but it rests on the Willwood Formation, rocks that are only about 55 million years old—rock on the summit of Heart Mountain is thus almost 300 million years older than the rocks at the base.

While LC and James and I were wandering around yard sales in town on Saturday we found ourselves on a residential street close to a school.
As we slowly drove down the road I looked through the windshield and saw a young fawn running across the road in front of us.
Immediately after, an adult doe ran across the road chasing after the baby.
Momma overtook baby, and after reaching the sidewalk they wandered together down towards the gate leading into the school grounds.............
Surprisingly, when they reached the gate together there was yet one more doe already standing in the grass of the school grounds watching their approach.
And that is when I heard baby squeak his little baby deer noises.
Only he was not talking to the doe he had crossed the road with - he was talking to the one already at the school.
She was his mother after all, not the first doe we had seen.
The momma and baby continued to communicate with each other for a few moments before wandering off together.
I have never heard deer noises before.
And I heard them for the first time on a Saturday morning while wandering around town finding yard sales...........
More deer seen on the same day in a pasture close to the house.
This time three bucks traveling together..............
Every day this Summer I have been reminded that we live in high plains desert.
It has rained very little this Summer, and Summers in Cody Wyoming are hot and very dry affairs.
Cody is located in a huge bowl completely surrounded by mountain ranges.
Often this Summer I have stood on the front porch and watched isolated rain showers off in the distance.
And many times have seen dark and ominous rain clouds building over Heart, Cedar, Rattlesnake and Carter Mountains.
My experiences of the past with those kinds of clouds told me that we would soon be pounded with heavy rain.
But we rarely have been.
More often than not these dark and ominous clouds travel in a circle around the rim of these mountains - I have seen them actually travel each of these mountain ranges and miss us altogether - leaving the bowl of Cody still dry.
A few days ago we had a very short and very violent dust/sand storm.
I had seen the clouds building quickly over Carter and heading our way, and again I fully expected heavy rain.
And then all of a sudden the calm and sunny day abruptly changed.
High winds.  Dust and sand flying everywhere.  So strong that from inside the house it actually sounded like it was raining.
We have had a couple of these sand storms this Summer.
Strong.  Violent.  And gone within only a few minutes..................
Forever Free (Author Unknown)

Of all the things I've ever seen,
Of all the dreams I've ever dreamed,
The finest sight that's come to me,
White horses wild beside the sea
They ran across the trackless sand
In that remote, forgotten land,
And in their running they were free
Beside the boundless, unchained sea.
They raced the first light of the day
And surged across a shallow bay
To feed at ease in grassy plains
With wind alone to groom their manes.
No barn or stable was their home.
No one could govern where they roamed.
They galloped on the fenceless tracts
With no ones burden on their backs.
And each swift horse was nature's child
At home on land forever wild,
And each wild horse was meant to be
At home on land forever free.

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