We had gone to ride yesterday afternoon at a friends nearby indoor arena. Grateful for the warmth of the barn and of the horses underneath us, it was not a problem to stay at length and enjoy the time.
It didn’t take long however, after walking out of the barn to unsaddle, that I was back to not being able to feel my fingers and was shivering. I couldn’t wait to just get back into my car, sit on the heated seat and be warm for the next 20 minutes while I waited for my daughter to wrap up basketball practice. Yet, when I got to the end of their drive and turn toward town, the horses on the other side of the gravel road stopped me in my tracks. I had to hop back out, say hello and snap a few photos. Love how this one in particular, turned out.
The new year has brought several days of bitter cold temperatures and it seems a constant dusting of snow to South Dakota. It’s been beautiful but almost too cold to get out and fully appreciate it all. The kids have tried with all their might to stay out longer than 10 minutes to sled and play but it’s been days of running between heated homes and vehicles. Cabin fever has indeed settled in over this winter’s break.
The herd has stayed very close to the shelter belt through it all.
And the dogs find warmth among the straw bales if they’re out for very long.
There has been a ride on horseback from Lower Brule, South Dakota to Mankato, Minnesota every year now since 2009. Each winter, not matter how brutal the temperatures or the winds, these riders saddle up and make the trek across the prairie for a cause they believe in. One that moves them at their very core.
The Dakota 38 + 2.
The ride is open to anyone at any stage of the journey. People come from all over the world to take part. Each leg of the trip, each day, the riders and their support team come through a different town in the hopes they might connect with an increasing number of people willing to open their hearts and minds to the mission. One of remembrance but more importantly of healing and of forgiveness.
We are blessed the ride comes through our area. This past year, the Cowboy went for the first time to help shoe and trim horses for the group over at the Flandreau Indian School. It was the first I had ever heard of the ride. We didn’t talk much about it at the time. Months later…
The Dakota 38 +2 documentary http://bit.ly/1cJDUui aired on South Dakota Public Television and by chance, we happened to be doing something we rarely take time to do. Watch TV. We’ve talked a lot about it since.
The story of the Dakota 38 + 2 is incredibly powerful in and of itself.
But the ride that happens now each year in memory of those lost so many years ago, it is moving. For me, I want to know more. I want to better understand the divide between the Natives and non-Natives in my new home which no one seems to hide or act like it doesn’t exist. I want to help bridge our communities wherever there is a chance. I want to understand what it means to help everyone heal. I want to better understand the Native American culture, all of the different Native American cultures for that matter. I want to better understand a piece of my own family history I’ve only ever seen written on my birth certificate, better understand the culture of the tribe the Cowboy’s family is enrolled in here in South Dakota and better live many of the values of a people and culture that for far too long have been cast aside.
I’m grateful for even the few lessons I’ve learned from the documentary and the few moments I was able to spend with the group this year. The riders, their support team, could not have been more welcoming. More open. More inviting, willing to talk and to let some stranger in a Prius follow them for just one small part of the ride.
Was a gorgeous morning here in South Dakota. Captured these moments well after the peak of the hoar frost shining in the morning sun .. still a stunning sight. The shots aren’t great, I didn’t take much time to stop and focus as I had only 13% battery power left on the camera, something I don’t let happen very often. The camera’s been put to some fun use the past week and I haven’t thought to recharge.
Anyway, I snapped the few photos the camera allowed on a whim …
Sunrise yesterday in eastern South Dakota – brought what I believe were the first Sun Dogs of this winter season. Absolutely beautiful scene out our front door just before 8 AM.
The sunset last night proved equally stunning, with the Sun Dogs making their second appearance in just a day.
I had never witnessed this phenomenon until just about a year ago, shortly after moving to the ranch here in South Dakota. Have been treated to many, since. Stunning.
We were driving through town this morning on our way to pick up a friend of the kids for the day .. and on our way, we passed the old granary in town. It’s a cold, gray and rainy November day but love how it made this whole scene appear.
The start to winter here in South Dakota has been brutal. Deadly, as many of you know, in some parts. The snow has been deep west river, the temperatures frigid and the legendary winds have been howling. But more often than not thus far, especially east of the Missouri, the sun has been shining and the weather overall, has been relatively mild.
I couldn’t resist going for a walk with the camera this morning. The sun was trying to break through a heavy frost. The cattle in the field across the way were just barely visible in the mix. Chances are, we won’t have too many more mornings like this.
It’s just beautiful here. While I miss the lakes, rolling hills and bluffs of Wisconsin and the majestic mountains of Montana, I have absolutely fallen in love with the prairie.
“I cross country skied to work this morning,” I just heard a man report on the mid-day news.
Snow is absolutely dumping on the western part of the state right now. The DOT is encouraging people to stay home with “a lot more wind and a lot more snow” slated to come. The interstate is closed. People are without power. And it comes at a time we had hoped to leave for Rapid City to spend time with family, a critical time we will never get back if we don’t get there soon.
Severe weather is scheduled for the eastern half of the state meanwhile, most likely not snow but possibly tornadoes.
It’s been a few days now of intermittent storms after months of below average precipitation. Some of it is much needed and welcomed. But too much rain or snow or wind will also create problems for farmers out in the fields right now 24/7 trying to get the harvest in.
As the front was moving in the other night .. I was driving home from a few meetings in Sioux Falls. The skies were beautiful. While I was already running behind in order to get home and meet our daughter .. I had to stop and grab a couple shots. Short of the border on these, they are unedited.
“My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher but everyday, three times a day, you need a farmer.”
– Brenda Schoepp
The dogs are barking again. They’re not used to this much traffic past our house each day..
The gravel roads of South Dakota are rumbling day and night right now under the heavy weight of combines, tractors, grain carts and semis.. whatever is takes to get the harvest done.
It’s beautiful. It’s dusty and right now it’s constant. After looking at and being surrounded by what seems to be 9 -10 foot high corn the past couple months, harvest will drastically change the view out our front door when all is said and done.
Wishing those out in the fields, a safe and wonderful harvest. This has been a dry summer but it appears a good one.