I was just having this discussion the other day with a young lady I know, who sheepishly told me she was quickly on book 7 of a 14 book series. “But she just *loves* these books!” She felt a little guilty for reading them so fast! I laughed and told her at my age of 49, I can still hear my dad’s voice telling me to “Get your nose out of that book!” Reading was for night-time when all other work was done. But, alas and alack, reading is my addiction… and though I can seemingly kick the habit for a short while, pretty soon I find myself wandering my house, wondering at which book I’ll have to reread before I make it to the library or a friend loans me a book! I read pretty much anything and everything… Recommend a book to me and even if I don’t like it, it’ll get me to thinking why *you* liked it! Lately, with my gorgeous dogs running around, I’ve read quite a few “dog” books… whelping, training, herding… but today I finished Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote. Oh, my goodness! Though sprinkled with intriguing facts and observations, it does nothing to hurt the storied tale of Merle. It reminded me much of the story of Seabiscuit… a nonfiction book breaking great barriers with the ability to weave a compelling story. It made me laugh much like the story of Marley and Me. But be forewarned, like most dog books, the heart will have to endure its ending. Today I was riding down the mountain in the pickup’s backseat, with my husband and father-in-law in the front. Beside me was Lucas, who with all his trials in the two years of his young life, will probably have to struggle with, like most dogs, a sad decline. While excited on the trip up, Lucas was now sleeping steadily on the seat, bouncing along the rocky road. All three males were blissfully unaware of my sorrow and torment. Trying to slow the steady stream of tears and snot with the sleeve of my t-shirt, I read on. Merle’s Door did come to an ending. And I will have to recommend it to people who love dogs and good stories. Controversial in its own way, it received many points in my book for just taking place in Wyoming! Of course, most people in Wyoming feel that anything within a stone’s throw of Jackson Hole really isn’t Wyoming! This book passed my test. Good job, Mr. Kerasote. Good dog, Merle. Thanks for helping me with my addiction.
Mankind has developed great, wonderful, and stupendous inventions throughout the centuries… modern medicine, farming methods, space exploration, chocolate, milkshakes, and without a doubt, the best invention of all is nothing less than a hot shower. I spent the day with good friends, exploring and riding trails on our 4 wheelers. We were reminded we live in big country when at the end of our day, covered in a fine layer of red dust, we found 50 miles on our trip meters. We had travelled through sagebrush and junipers, hay fields and creeks. We climbed ridges and fell off the other side. We discussed history and map reading, people and experiences. We drank cold Pepsi and devoured Fritos and sandwiches. We saw deer and antelope. We had a simple day of enjoyment and friendship. But I have to admit, I don’t do this everyday… and about mile 30 or so, my arms began a dull throb of unused muscles. By mile 40, I really felt it! From my wrists upwards about 6 inches, that center muscle began to protest! What a wimp I was! Returning home and after saying our goodbyes, the only thought was for a hot shower. But supper had to be cooked and chores done and finally, achingly, I could climb into that invention that tops all others. Just last year we installed a pressure tank to actually allow us the chance to be enveloped in water rather than lean against the wall and have a pitiful stream trickle down our backs. I no longer have to lust after showers in motel rooms or visits to my mom’s where she actually has a shower massage! I can relax and let hot water wash all those hurts away. And I did. I’ll ride again anytime, it was a wonderful day… but only if I get that hot shower!
I’ve been gone a while… having a unique opportunity to work a camp sponsored by my employers, Eleutian.com. We managed to have a dozen young Korean students and tour northern Wyoming for a week. We did team building activities on a low ropes course at Mickelson Station, Powell, Wyoming. We toured Yellowstone. We toured the awesome Buffalo Bill Historical Center, floated the river, and then attended the night rodeo all in Cody, Wyoming. We went to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and swam in the hot springs of Thermopolis. We studied bats with the Wyoming Game and Fish Dept., hiked to an ancient pictograph site, and toured a local dinosaur dig site north of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. We also viewed the cutthroat and rainbow trout at Wigwam Rearing Station. We ate Japanese food, fried chicken, pizza, delicious Korean food, and too many sandwiches! We loved ice cream and shaved ice! It was a great learning experience and cultural lesson… but when it all comes down to it, when I’ve been gone a while, there is no place as quiet and relaxing as this place, where there are no other people, or streetlights or sirens or traffic or *anything* but a loving family and doting dogs.
When I was in second grade, I did something that would impact the rest of my life. I joined the Girl Scouts. What followed were years of day camps, troop camps, primitive camps, and wildlife camps. I went to camp every summer of my life. My last years of high school were spent at camp learning to be a camp counselor. At age 19, I had the amazing job of being a horse wrangler at the now defunct Girl Scout National Center West in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. We, as strong young women, prided ourselves on sleeping out under the stars every night on our horse packing trips into the Big Horn Mountains. We disdained our tents except for the one night it rained and rained and rained and rained! We did stay in tents when in main camp… and the smell of canvas and pine trees is a combination that breaks my heart… I am no longer involved in Girl Scouts.
But it gave me an appreciation for sleeping outdoors which continues to this day. Thankfully I have a husband that knows I am not rejecting him… but I need this for my soul. I have taken my children up the hillside to watch the Perseid meteor shower every August of their young lives. Rarely will one accompany me now, preferring a soft bed to a cot or lawn recliner…
I have migrated to a 14′ tipi…with blowup air mattress and buffalo robe! I can start a little fire if it’s chilly, or huddle under my buffalo robe. It is located about 75 yards from my house through some trees…and it is easy to believe I am all alone. OK, that’s an exaggeration! I forgot, I have 3 English Shepherds! Lucas, Elsa, and Dally take it upon themselves to be my guardians. Lucas sleeps outside the tipi, but as close to my head as he can get. I hear him breathing. I hear him scratching. I hear him sigh. And at least twice a night, he runs off unseen threats to me with his bass voice that vibrates the tipi walls. Elsa is the silent ninja… I can’t hear her, but she is there, her high pitched bark backing up Lucas when he takes off. Dally is the only one who starts off the night inside the tipi with me. She minds her manners, except for one thing… I have found Dally to be a sweetgrass thief. I have had two braids out in my tipi, and both have disappeared. Sweetgrass must taste as good as it smells! In that I can’t blame her, sweetgrass is a favorite scent of mine, but she needs to share! Dally is the only one that can find her way, for the most part, in the doorway between the tipi and liner. Sometimes she gets lost and winds up between my tipi and liner…but like Lucas, gets as close to me as she can, and sleeps until her daddy chooses to scare off some “booger”. I woke up the other morning, walked to the back of my tipi and there was Lucas and Elsa laying in the shade on guard. Dally was lost between the liner and tipi and only her legs were visible out from under the tipi. I called her name, woke her up, and she shoved her pretty little head out from under, astonished that I was now OUTSIDE the tipi. She wriggled her way out and happily gave me a good morning greeting.
Soon I’ll take my buffalo robe and move to the trampoline, and watch the Perseids until I fall asleep. I’ll have 3 dogs sleeping underneath me…and a blanket of stars above. “Tuck a cloud up under my chin, Lord, blow the moon out, please.”