Waiting on spring ..

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
― Percy Bysshe ShelleyOde to the West Wind

Another Day of Heavy Fog

Another Day of Heavy Fog

The weather has been quite a topic of conversation lately .. most people sick of the cold and snow.  And while I’m ready for spring myself, today there were just some incredibly beautiful scenes to be soaked up.



Blanketed in Frost

Blanketed in Frost


The Eagles ..

There are a few places near where I lived in Wisconsin, the Sauk Prairie area in particular, where eagles gather.  They can be seen routinely flying along the Wisconsin River and there are days each spring devoted to watching them.  They are beautiful.  Big.  Majestic.  Watching them, seeing them even from a distance is mesmerizing.  I get shivers down my spine with awe and admiration.


But outside of that particular area, I can’t say I would ever routinely see them.

So the fact I have seen one to two a week since moving to South Dakota has been exciting for me and I try and pay attention when things like this happen.  While it may be random, purely coincidence and insignificant other than they happen to be in the same area I am in hunting for food or out for a daily gotta-get-some-exercise flight, sometimes things do carry with them an energy.  A meaning


Plus, as I have voiced my excitement about seeing them, the response I have gotten from just about everyone is, “Really?  I don’t ever see any!”


After having one fly very low over my car yesterday as I was heading out of town, having just dropped my daughter off at school .. I felt like perhaps someone was trying to tell me something.  And, I am believer in totems.  So I came home and looked up what it might mean.  I had had it explained to me before but I couldn’t remember.

What again is, the symbolism of the Eagle.


While there are many different opinions on this, I appreciate the one listed on the link above.  Especially given this most recent transition in life and the challenges and opportunities before us.

Coincidence or not, I appreciate even contemplating the thought they may be a sign.

I ask the Cowboy what he thinks.  “I think it’s a bunch of mambajahamba and believing in that is about as crazy as running around with a bunch of chicken bones around your neck.”  And he’s part Native American.

He laughs.  So do I.  Who cares.  I like the thought.


Ironically, as I sit down to write this morning, I see this tweet from @TravelWI:

Travel Wisconsin ‏@TravelWI Show our national bird some love. It’s Bald Eagle Appreciation Day! http://bit.ly/WaPgKV  #birding

Hope you’re fortunate to catch yourself a glimpse today.

Storm Blowing In ..

The snow hadn’t yet started to fly this afternoon but the wind had kicked up something fierce once again on the Great Plains by late this afternoon and there was a damp chill in the air.

The grove of trees the herd was lined up against the other day was facing the wrong direction to help with tonight’s howling winds.  So a few of them cozied up behind one of the loafing sheds this latest go round with Mother Nature.

The huddle.

The huddle.

As I ran out to snap a few photos, they all turned and looked at me, I think wanting to come over and say hello like they usually do.  But all stood their ground, not wanting to give up the wind break for any other in the herd.

I smiled at them.  And as the cold, bitter air sent a sharp pain through my front teeth, I scurried back inside, seeking warmth and shelter again myself.

Heavy Frost ..

The first thing I do usually when I wake each morning here in South Dakota, is look out one of our east facing windows.  I think I have just about always done the same wherever I have lived, I love the morning sun and the promise of each new day.  But for reasons I am about to share, the sunrise here is just different, and I appreciate each and every one I am able to enjoy.

The past 15 years of my life in Madison, WI there were typically neighbors homes or trees blocking the view and the sound of cars whipping by a busy road accompanying any morning light.

My time in Montana is perhaps the best comparison.  As you can imagine, there were magnificent views in each direction and a bold skyline of snow capped mountains, rich green forests, clear ice blue rivers, and deep shadows in the valleys, all soaking up the sun as it would rise in the sky.  But the sunrise would come in beautiful stages.

Here, it is instant it seems, the first crack of light is far and wide, like a fire spreading across the horizon.  It is sincerely unlike any other I have ever experienced simply because, if for no other reason, there is nothing to block your view (well, maybe the power lines) as far as the eye can see.

Sunrise in South Dakota

Late Morning Sunrise in South Dakota

While this morning once again did not disappoint – 6:45 a.m., deep shades of pink, orange, yellow and bright blue were mingling together across the horizon – there was one thing blocking the view.  At least through one window.

Frost on the Window

Frost on the Window

While I know the sheer amount of frost here is not good for the wood frames and a clear indication we need new windows/better insulation/etc (a project we plan to tackle in coming months) I tried to ignore that for the time being and soak in the moment.

The pattern of the frost was a bit mesmerizing and I loved the first light of dawn shining through.

Playing with Camera Filter

Playing with Camera Filter

Return of the Sun Dogs

Another frigid day on the plains of South Dakota brought a return of the Sun Dogs.


We had only started to drive away from the house this morning on our way to school, when I started searching for my sunglasses.  While I hate to ever complain about the sun, it was incredibly bright.  It took me a moment to realize why.

Turning onto our dirt road, I glanced toward the sky and startled our 11 year old when I shouted, “The Sun Dogs are back!”

Incredible Morning Sky

Incredible Morning Sky

While admiring the glow and the beautiful drive into town, I called the Cowboy and asked him to grab the camera and snap a few shots back at the ranch.  He claims to not really know what he’s doing with the lens, but I love this image from today in particular.

Cowboy's shot

Cowboy’s shot

Wind Break

Today’s snow came early, was heavy, wet and fell fast.  The Interstate is closed to our north, to the west and throughout much of the state, officials are asking people not to travel.

Break From the Wind

Break From the Wind

We made it home just before noon and are bunkered down for the day.  But I had to run and grab a few pics when we pulled back into the drive.  It’s the first time I’ve seen the herd all lined up along the tree and fence line in an effort to get relief from the South Dakota winds.  Beautiful.


February Snowstorm

Calm Before the Storm ..

You never know what Mother Nature is going to dish up, despite what the forecast calls for.  But this weekend’s storm seemed about as certain as a forecast can get.  Rain turning into sleet turning into snow with high winds to follow.

Yet, in the middle of the day Saturday, it was about as beautiful and calm as early February can get.

While the Cowboy moved up a few appointments he had scheduled for Sunday/Monday .. I cleaned up around our place.  Put things away the kids had gotten out.  Made room once again in our workshop for the four wheeler.  And looked for a way to take care of the burn pile that had once again been stacking up before it was buried in snow.

Most of it being boxes that had until now, held all of my boots off-season.

As we continue to look for creative ways to fit all of our collective belongings into a very small ranch home with little storage .. the Cowboy asked me the other week, why I was keeping them.  I, of course, let him know why adding that if I ever decide to put a pair on eBay, then I have the original packaging to send them in.

“You don’t need to keep those,” he encouraged me to give them up in the name of more space for other things.  He’s was right.


Instead of heading off to do other chores or back inside, I grabbed a glass of wine and sat awhile on a log next to the fire-pit.  It felt cathartic in some ways.  Watching.  Taking a deep breath.  Seeing more clutter disappear out of the house and our lives.  And as I watched the pile burn ..

I was enjoying the time I had to just be still and appreciating how quiet it was, that the only sounds around me were that of the crackling fire and a gentle wind.  They were some pretty simple moments, moments we don’t often take.


But they were moments yesterday, that allowed me to reflect back on the trip I took to Austin, TX.  A pivotal point in my life in recent years.  Where I bought the most awesome pair of boots that had been in the last box to burn.  (the boots weren’t in the burning box, to clarify.)

And I couldn’t help but smile to think of the decisions in my life to come out of that trip, and the path those boots have been on since.

Help: Looking for (a Good) Home ..

Dogs appear to be the theme of the week.


For as far back as I can remember, I have always brought home stray animals.  Cats, rabbits, dogs, rats .. whatever I knew had been abandoned or injured made its way home with me as a child.

My dad would always try and console me when I would get home from school and they would be gone, “Oh honey, I don’t know where they went.  They must have gotten out.”

My affection for animals, any/all/lost/hurt/stray/whatever comes my way, continues as an adult ..

Much to the amusement and dismay of those closest to me.



For instance ..

As I was driving to an appointment yesterday in a very remote area, I saw cars swerving ahead of me.  Deer, I figured.  I slowed as I approached the area.  Sure enough, I thought as I saw something small and tan alongside the road.

But as I got closer I saw it was actually a dog.

‘Darn dog,’ I thought to myself.  ‘Get off the highway, you’re going to get hit.’

Then a second appeared.  They didn’t seem to care they were wandering out into whatever traffic happened to be coming along.  They were just wandering.  Checking things out.  Not seeming to have a care in the world, even if it did have 18 wheels on it and was headed for them.

I looked around quickly, no ranches, no homes, we were miles from any town.  Nothing seemed to be within wandering off distance for the two.  And still they wandered down the middle of the two lane highway.

Now, I’m pretty sure what I did next is something most rural folks don’t do very often.

Long overdue nap.

Long overdue nap.

I pulled over.  Backed up.  And got out to see if they were ok.

Tails wagging, tongues flapping about and seeming overall healthy, into the back seat they went.  I drove about 4 miles to the nearest town.  It was early and in that town of about 800 I saw no one around. The two businesses I could find weren’t yet open.

I had to get to my appointment.  They went with and crashed in the backseat as though they hadn’t slept in days.  I called everyone I could think to call, the  Sheriff’s Office and filed a report, area Shelters, businesses, residents.  No one seemed to know of or be looking for this pair.

Hours later, I came back through that small town, made a couple more stops into the only places the locals could think they might belong.  Other shelters in surrounding counties weren’t answering calls or were at capacity with no room to take them.  Our local Veterinary Clinic said they would add to the list of dogs they already had that had been abandoned in case anyone called.

“Be prepared for a couple overnight visitors,” I told the Cowboy as I got closer to home.  Not exactly what he wanted to hear, especially after the conversation from the day about our own dogs.

Why Can't We Be Friends

Why Can’t We Be Friends

But they were sweet and stuck close and seemed to appreciate the help.

I hope someone out there is missing them and searching.  I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for them to be found.  But I cried today as I dropped them off at the only shelter that would take them.  Had they been able to get along with our two labs, we would have continued to foster until home or a new home was found.

Or.  I might have kept them.  Had everyone been cool with it.

“Four dogs, on top of everything else we have is just too much,” says the Cowboy.

I’m not sure we’ll ever see eye to eye on that one.  Regardless, I am quite certain there will be others someday finding shelter in the backseat of my car.  If only temporary.

Wishing our girls good luck.  Hope hope home finds its way back to you again, soon.

The Dogs: Indoor vs Outdoor

I might have sat down to write last night ..

Pasture Run

But the mess we came home to after a couple of birthday parties for family and friends kept me busy for far too long.  There will be no photos of it.

“I’ve said this before.  The dogs need to be outside,” says the Cowboy.  “Dogs belong outside.”

He went to bed.  I, for over an hour, cleaned up a trail of foul smelling excrement throughout the house.  Our four kids all huddled in the one bedroom upstairs that didn’t need cleaning and fell asleep.


“If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.”
― Roger Caras


How many ranches have indoor dogs?  Not many, I believe.

Yellow on the Bench

The Cowboy has never had an indoor dog, hates the hair in the house, can’t stand that one of my dog sneaks as often as it can onto the bed to nap and hates coming home to a mess (one of our pups can not leave anything alone that might be left on the kitchen counter, including butter, which in turn makes her sick.  Have you ever smelled dog vomit after they’ve downed a stick of butter?  Not cool.  I still don’t know what caused last nights unbelievable mess.)

I can’t say that I blame him.  I’m not a fan of it either.

But I’m used to it, I guess.  I have had indoor dogs all my life and don’t see where there are issues that can’t easily be overlooked or overcome.  I’ve cleaned up accidents and illnesses since I was old enough to take on the responsibility and .. I have until now, always lived within city limits and not wanted a dog to bug the neighbors with its barking.  Plus people that live in towns/cities tend to think if you leave your dog out for any length of time or take your dog anywhere in the car with you it’s their job to call Animal Control.  Somehow that dog is being abused or abandoned, I’m thinking is their typical most educated guess on the subject.  I have to say, my dogs would any day, rather go with me and sit in the car for hours on end than stay home if I give her the choice.  They otherwise just appreciate being around people.  To a fault, I guess.

Our Old Gal

I’m getting off topic.

Indoors or send them outside?  I feel the need at this point, mid-winter, to wean.  Which isn’t fast enough it appears, for the Cowboy.  Especially after last nights mess.  I don’t think they’re ready for it, my very small opinion as the smaller of our two labs comes in shaking from 15 minutes in the cold on days like we’ve had recently.

But girls, know it is coming.  Faster than you or I might like if we continue to have any more nights like this last ..

Frozen Nose Hair ..

Yes.  That is how cold it remains.

You know those days, don’t you?  Days where all you have to do is step outside the door and instantaneously, eyelashes have icicles and nose hair is frozen.

If not, I’d say consider yourself lucky.  But, we live where we do because we love weather like this, don’t we?  It’s dinner in the crock pot weather.  Good stout beer weather.  Make a fire weather.  Bundle up on the couch with the kids in a big blanket and watch a movie weather.  Those are good things about it being too cold to do much else.  Either way, as the snow moves in this fine February day, here’s to hoping this is the last day of this bitter cold snap for 2013 .. we’re waiting on spring!


(Thought a shot of Gracie’s whiskers was better any day, than a shot up any of our noses.)