Sunday, June 30, 2013

Promising But Unfulfilled

Many times LC and I watch storms approaching our area.
Mostly storms come from the south and west, sometimes from the north, and only very occasionally from the east.
For all intents and purposes Cody is located in a huge bowl that is surrounded by mountains.
The Bear Tooths, the Absarokas, the huge and endless and flat Big Horn Mountains - they all surround us.
We stand often on our front porch looking out over the mountain ranges and over the endless expanse of BLM land that also surrounds us.
We watch as storms struggle to make it over the mountains and when they finally do we always get suckered in, firmly believing that the storms will find their way to us.
They rarely do.
What happens more often than not is that these isolated storm bands (so isolated that we can literally see where they begin and where they end) circle around us.
Getting trapped by these mountain ranges that force the storms to change direction and circle around us before inevitably moving east.
I took these pictures about a week ago.
It was late in the evening, and just at a time when the sky was filled with different cloud types, promising but ultimately unfulfilled chances for rain, and setting sun...................
Many many years ago my youngest son Chris began to make some decisions under pressure from so-called "friends" at school, that increasingly got him in trouble - first with me, then the school, then with the police.
One day the police called me and told me that he was in jail and could I come pick him up. 
He was only 13 years old at the time, but was already over six feet tall and everyone thought that he was much older than he was.
I had become increasingly worried over many months about my youngest child, and was indecisive about what I should do for him, and just how serious his problems were really becoming.
By the time the police picked him up, Chris had already been in some minor trouble with them and they already knew his name.  Never a good sign.
I asked the police if they could hold him.  They asked me for how long and I told them as long as possible.
They told me that they would hold him as long as they could, but if they needed the space for a bigger fuck up than my son was, we would have to come get him.
I hoped that they would be able to hold him at least overnight. 
I wanted him to sweat and I wanted time to think.
Six hours after the first call, I received a second call from the police.  They needed the space for another kid.
I asked my husband to pick him up.  I wasn't ready to see Chris yet.
While I waited at the house for the return of my husband and child, I stood in the dining room beside the picture window, eating a bowl of cereal.
As I ate I stood by that huge window that overlooked the back yard, looking outside but not seeing anything outside, and feeling deeply worried.  
Sean walked into the dining room.
When he came up behind me he threw his arms around my neck and pressed his cheek against mine.
"You'll figure something out.  You always do.  It'll be alright".
I could feel myself well up as I fought back sudden and unexpected tears, and I turned my head to face my oldest son, smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek.
"We'll figure something Babe".
When Chris walked into the house I looked up at my young son and made the instant decision that I was pulling him out of school.
I didn't know what I was going to do after that, but I figured it out.
Many years later, I can't figure this out.
Today would have been my Seans' 6th wedding anniversary.

Oasis In The City

I guess I'm starting to lose track of time.
Trying half heartedly to keep it together, move forward, be OK, not impose my feelings on others.  
Trying not to stay lost in a place inside my head and my heart that seems to be the only safe place left for me, and ultimately a place that I really don't want to leave.
I had heard, somewhere at sometime, that the hundreds of flags that I had unexpectedly found set up outside the library last year, were also set up again this year.
They were set up for the first time last year, on a vast expanse of  irrigated green space outside the beautiful library building to celebrate Flag Day.
I knew nothing about the event in '12, and only found it by accident during a trip to the library a few days after we arrived back in Wyoming.
At that time, I hadn't reached into the side pocket of my pack for my camera in months, but as I turned off the Greybull Highway and onto Stampede Avenue where the library is located, I saw the flags.
I instantly pulled the truck over to the curb and sat quietly looking out over the hundreds of waving flags for a few moments, feeling numb and not sure in that instant what I wanted to do with the sight.
After a few moments I impulsively reached for my camera, climbed out of my truck, and began to walk alone through a red, white and blue world of American flags that were waving wildly in the Wyoming Wind.
Local residents and businesses purchased the flags as a fundraiser for the library system, and it was a way to recognize the day, recognize the service of a military member, recognize and remember either a favored family member or a lost loved one.
A link to the event last year:
I post the link above because last week I realized that I had missed the entire event this year.
Hundreds of flags came and went and I missed the whole thing.
As I pulled onto Stampede this year, I looked over the expanse of green and saw nothing.
Maybe they had placed them behind the library this year?
I already knew that they hadn't but I turned off Stampede anyway and meandered down the winding paved side road leading to the back of the building.  Nope.
I had missed it.
As I drove through the large complex (that includes the library, the recreation center and the arena) I was indecisive about what to do next.  Just head home?  Stop and walk?  Walk and picture take?
Picking Door #3 I pulled over to the far side of the library, parked the truck and climbed out.
The entire western region of the country (including Cody) is deeply embedded in a heat wave right now.
Temperatures are very high, the sky is a constant and almost unwavering deep blue, and the rain we have had off and on for the past few months is now long forgotten as Wyoming settles in for a typically hot and intensely dry summer.
My least favorite time of the year because the oppressive dryness and heat is unyielding and energy sucking, and this woman has little mental or physical energy to spare.
But on the day of this walk - only a couple of weeks ago - it was only warm and beautiful.
A good day for a short walk only a few miles from home.........................
The park like setting of the library grounds are lovely, and there are two small man-made lakes on both the front and back ends of the building, connected by a system of man-made streams.
A pumping system circulates water continually around the facility - a constant and contrasting state of smooth ponds and fast running water.
It is a pleasing place.
An oasis in the high desert of Cody.  An oasis of water within the city limits.  As oasis of calm in the middle of what is now a hustling and bustling and vaguely annoying tourist town.
I walked slowly, enjoying the green-ness and quietness and stillness of this oasis, trying to calm my rapid heart rate and rapid thoughts.
Slow down Karin. 
Slow down...............
This building holds the library on the main floor.  Additional floors are homes to a  branch of Northwest College offices, and offices that update drivers licenses and car tags................
After wandering along the shore of this beautiful little pond, I sat on the large boulders deep in thought.
The sound of moving water was soothing but I could still feel my body and head moving too fast.  So fast that I could barely keep up with all the images and thoughts that moved rapid fire through my brain.
So fast that I almost felt sick to my stomach.
A freeway of images rapidly moving from left to right like speeding cars - approaching, speeding by me, disappearing from sight only to be replaced by another one.  And another one.  And another one.
I looked out over the lake.  Looked up and enjoyed the sight of Heart Mountain, absently wondering (as I have hundreds of times) if the Indian In Profile that made up the top of the mountain was an actual, living person in history, or if the Indian profile is just a local observation of how the mountain "looks".  Realizing again (as I have hundreds of times) that I don't care about the answer enough to even look it up on the computer.
I could see portions of Cedar Mountain to my left, partially hidden by the trees.
I looked over at the shady spots beside the building, remembering the deer I had unexpectedly seen sitting in one of those "dark spots" a couple of years ago.
Moving on...............
When I look at these pictures as I blog, I am reminded again that pictures can give a "sense" of a place, but don't really tell the whole story.
One day when I was still living up in Juneau I took some pictures of a long abandoned, tiny, rustic, wonderfully beautiful and rundown wooden building.
The pictures - without any supporting information to back up the images - would have naturally made you imagine that the tiny wooden structure was located in the middle of the mountains.
Standing alone and abandoned in some beautiful, outstandingly isolated place.
In reality the little windowless shack was located about 50 feet off the main two lane highway that ran from the "End of the Road" to "Out the Road", through the high density residential area known as the Valley, through Juneau and down to the ritzy residential area known as Thane.  Eventually making its way to the other "End of the Road".
1/4 mile away from the wooden structure was a major grocery store and the turnoff for the Valley, with all its'  residential and business and commercial nastiness.  But you would never guess that from the picture.
And so it goes with the Cody Library.
In one direction there are only nice but high density homes.
1/4 mile away from this quiet place in the opposite direction is a busy strip mall, an Albertsons grocery store, a Subway and K-mart and a Maverick gas station, a couple of liquor stores, a boot shop, a health food store, a yuppie sandwich shop, a Starbucks with its overpriced and over-strong coffee (I have tried to drink coffee at Starbucks only twice and both times ended up throwing it away), a couple of mom and pop motels, a KOA campground, McDonalds and Burger King and some taco place whose name I don't remember.
Oasis indeed......................
An hour after I had started my quiet walk, I circled and slowly made my way back to the truck.
All through the long Wyoming winters, local Cody residents see the black plastic bottom of this place.
The ponds are dry, the streams are empty, the grass surrounding the ponds is dormant and brown, just like the entire rest of the world around us.
In summer it comes alive....................

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mule Days 2013

I love this picture.
It is so western.  So cowboy.
And this young man (who was sitting on a gate in front of then pen that was holding one of his mules) was one cute little cowboy.
Each year in Ralston, which is a small community half way between Cody and Powell, there is an event known as Mule Days.
It is a long weekend filled with........well........mules of course.  Buying mules, trading mules, auctioning mules, showing off mules, selling mule gear and hundreds of mule owners riding and talking and visiting with other mule owners.
It is one of a handful of quintessential western and cowboy events held in the area during each summer. 
Mules are sweet animals that look just like horses except for their ridiculously long ears that rotate inwards and outwards, just like satellites trying to capture the slightest noise from outer space.
The sight of them amuses me, but LC has very fond memories of mules and they have a soft spot in his heart.
He was raised on a farm.
Actually he was only partially raised on a farm.
Throughout his childhood he bounced rapid fire between two sets of caregivers - spending part of his time with on-the-road, traveling preacher parents when it was convenient (who cared more about saving the souls of strangers than raising their boys), and spending part of his time with a stable and loving couple (who owned a farm in Eastern Tennessee) when it was not convenient.
LC ploughed fields with mules.  His father figure kept and loved mules, that were part work animals and part family pets.
My Mountain Boy loved his substitute parents, loved the farm where he spent so much time, loved the animals on that farm, and so to this day still has a very soft spot for these strange and beautiful creatures.
There is really not much to add to this.  The pictures tell the story of our visit..................
A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once..............William Faulkner