I went to a bereavement support group meeting this morning.
While waiting for it to start I wandered around in the lobby, deeply embedded in deep thoughts, and a woman approached me and introduced herself.
She was young and small and held out her bony and fragile hand to me, and had a voice that sounded like a chipmunk.
As I shook her hand and introduced myself I realized that her small and fragile hand was giving mine a small and fragile shake.
With an uncomfortable shrug of one shoulder she told me that she was the trained facilitator of the group.
She told me her name and I immediately forgot it.Maybe I was already looking for an excuse. The excuse was standing right in front of me in the form of a woman who smiled too readily and gave me a limp handshake, and in the form of the other two women who had greeted me when I first walked into the building, who were both artificially light hearted.
I immediately realized that I needed a personality similar in strength to my own, and that she (and they) were not it.
I immediately realized that I would not be returning.
There were six other people in the group who had also had people die on them. All of them were old and all of them had lost spouses. They all told their stories and I simply told them my name.
All were nice people. Some had lost people recently and some had lost people years ago.
One old man had lost his wife of 62 years only three months ago.
He was a hurting and lost soul and I felt badly for him as he spoke of life without her. It was sad.
The young, small, limp handshake woman provided college text book advice right on cue, and babbled on about the importance of taking care of yourself while grieving.
She got the text-book-helpful-hints correct. Someone called her name. Her name was Sonny.
Of course it was.
Throughout the hour my heart was racing and I could barely breathe and I had to leave the room three times.
When it was over I grabbed my jacket and pack and rushed wordlessly to the front door, grateful to get the hell out of there.................
The weather today was absolutely freezing.
LC and I woke up to a temperature of 38 degrees. An hour after we got up it was 35 degrees and still dropping, and it was very windy. A couple of hours later it was lightly snowing.
After eating a quick and light breakfast at a restaurant with LC and his hunting friend from Alabama (who is staying with us for a little over a week) I went to that support group meeting.
After it was all over I needed air (even if the air was freezing cold), ran some errands and then parked my truck in the almost empty parking lot of the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum and climbed out, grateful for the chance to clear my head.
The biting wind was welcome. So was the cold.
We still have not made it inside the museum yet even though it is supposed to be a truly outstanding place.
During the busy summer tourist season the parking lot is always filled with vehicles and the grounds are always filled with people and employees and demonstrations and displays.
Now, on a freezing cold day in early October (I was wearing shorts just yesterday) the place was almost deserted.
And that was welcome too.
I guess I always knew but never really thought about it before, but the town of Cody is absolutely filled with statues.
All over town there are grizzly bears. Large statues of grizzly bears decorated in all manner of colors and patterns and decorations. They silently and whimsically stand outside libraries and office buildings and stores, and are all the result of a fundraising effort for the public library some years ago.
There are art studios, banks, office buildings, hotels, motels and stores all over town that have statues resting on their front lawns.
Some are a nod to Buffalo Bill Cody. Many others are simply a nod to the place in which we live.
Bears, buffalo, elk, deer, cougars, mountain goats.
All beautiful statues. All unique and wonderful. All provide Cody with decoration and character and photo ops.
A life sized statue of Buffalo Bill Cody stands right outside the museum.....................
Lining the sidewalks around two sides of the museum are concrete lights adorned with moulded copper animal figures....................
When I first climbed out of my truck and breathed cold, fresh air, I had planned on walking the entire perimeter of the museum because I knew that the grounds contained many wonderful statues.
By the time I had been outside for only ten minutes though, my hands were absolutely freezing.
Temperatures are supposed to bounce back into the 50s and then 60s again by early next week.
But on this day the weather was cold and bitter and in just a short time my freezing hands were bright red and complaining.
OK then............just a few pictures...................
This statue was larger than life-sized. At least 8 or 9 feet tall.................
After returning to my truck I drove through the parking lot, parked at the edge of the lot and again climbed out.
The mountains had forced me to stop.
Snow at the 5100 foot level of Cody was not sticking to the ground, but higher in the mountains I saw a thin dusting of snow.
The first snowfall of the year.................
Not long after we arrived in Cody in March of 2011, LC and I walked this area, and unexpectedly came across a small building across the road from the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum.
It was a small big horn sheep museum and as I stood in the freezing cold looking up at the lightly snow-covered mountains in front of me I saw the statues of the sheep and remembered.
Briefly indecisive - wanting to walk across the road to take pictures but also wanting to return to the warmth of my truck, it was inevitable that eventually the pictures would win out.
Once that decision was made the cold became a non-issue.
I eagerly walked across the quiet road and slowly wandered the grounds, enjoying the sight of more beautiful and lifelike statues.
I don't know for certain, but the quality of the animal statues throughout Cody is so consistent I would not be surprised to learn that they are all from the same maker..............
After again returning to my truck I meandered through empty residential back roads and found what I was looking for.
The last time LC and I were in Cody we stopped at this place the very first day that we were in town.
We had not stopped at the statue yet since getting back to Cody in June, and today seemed like a good day to make that stop.
THE Buffalo Bill Cody statue is located on a dead end road in between the museum and the hospital, and backs onto BLM land.
It is a huge statue and a must-see must-stop for anyone visiting Cody Wyoming................
Looking back towards Cedar Mountain on the left and Rattlesnake Mountain on the right..............
BLM land and the tell-tale "C" behind the statue..................
Finally cold enough, tired enough and hungry enough, it was time to head for the house.
I smiled when I saw her.
LC and I nicknamed her Dolly Llama but in truth neither of us really know if "she" is a "he" or if "llama" is actually "alpaca".
But not long after we got back into town we began talking about the Dalai Lama when we saw this hairy beast, and somehow she/he morphed into Dolly Llama.
She is not normally this close to the road, but on this very cold day (and as I slowly drove by) I realized that Dolly was quietly sitting in a pasture only a few feet into the field.
I parked the truck one more time on a bend in a road a few hundred yards from Dolly and battled the wind and cold as I headed on foot towards her.
She had been sitting quietly and when she saw me approaching she lifted her head higher into the air, instantly on alert.
I crossed over to the other side of the road and slowed my pace, trying to calm her and she soon settled back down into relaxation mode.
By the time I slowly crossed back over the road and moved closer to my hairy animal, she was calm.
She is a funky, weird, sweet looking animal, and I like her very much.................
Pictures taken while standing close to the truck.
I was only about two miles from the house, and finally ready, coldly ready, to go home..............
A dusting of snow. Taken in the back yard at the house..............
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door..............Irish Blessing